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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

“Poor people inhabit rich lands”
- E. Bradford Burns

Fall 2016, Truman State University
MG1096, TR 1:30-2:50
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker
Office Hours: TR 10:30-11:30
Phone: x6036

This course surveys the history of Latin America from independence from European colonial powers at the beginning of the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. We will examine a variety of issues including inequality, leadership styles, democracy, religion, and gender. This course fulfills the history mode of inquiry in the Liberal Studies Program. In this mode, students will study a broad topic or major geographic area over an extended period of time and will demonstrate competence in one or more of the following areas, which characterize the work of historians:

  • thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  • the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  • analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  • understanding the social and aesthetic richness of different cultures.

Following is the required book for this class. Additional readings will be posted to the Blackboard website. The primary source readings listed in the schedule are provisional and may change to better meet the needs of the class. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class. Lectures and discussions will complement the readings and assume the base level of knowledge that they present, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings.

Meade, Teresa. A History of Modern Latin America, 2d ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. ISBN: 9781118772485

The author has a study guide for this textbook at

Assignments and grades
Course grades will be based on the following assignments. You can check your grade progress on the class Blackboard web page (grades are calculated out of a total of 1000 possible points, and not the percentage of completed assignments as displayed in Blackboard). Assignments are due at the beginning of class, and I do not accept “drop and run” papers or papers submitted without the physical presence of the student. Grades on late assignments will be penalized 10 percent for each day that they are late. You are free to submit assignments electronically, but I will not acknowledge receipt nor provide feedback on such submissions. You may verify receipt and grade on Blackboard. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.)                                      100 pts
Weekly quizzes (10 pts ea.)                                                   150
15 primary source analyses (20 pts ea.)                                 300
Newspaper essay (Nov 17)                                                    250
Final exam                                                                               200

Daily identification terms. We will begin each class period with identifying and giving the significance of one identification term drawn from a list posted to the Blackboard webpage for each of the weekly assigned readings from Meade’s A History of Modern Latin America. These will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 points. One point means that you are present, 2 points indicate that something was fundamentally wrong with your response, 3 points indicate a rote response from the text, 4 points represent analytical thought, and 5 points are for responses that reveal critical thought that extends significantly beyond the text and places the term in a broad historical context.

Weekly quizzes. A weekly quiz is on the Blackboard webpage for each chapter from the Meade textbook. Complete the quiz by class time on Tuesday.

Primary source analyses. Write a short (no more than one page) essay that compares the perspective of each primary source to the textbook chapter for that week. Each essay is due at the beginning of class on Thursday for the corresponding weekly reading assignment.
            In order to analyze the primary sources, think about what the documents reveal, what they conceal, and how the experiences and perspectives of each author shaped its contents. In order to identify the main issues in the documents, consider:

  • What type of source is this?
  • What can you extrapolate about who created the source, when, and where?
  • Who did the author consider the audience to be?
  • Why was the document created?
  • What views and perspectives does the document present? Are other views silenced or challenged?
  • What does this source tell a reader about a historical event? What are its limits in explaining those events?
  • How does this source fit into a larger historical narrative? Does it challenge or conform to a dominant narrative?

Newspaper essay. Over the course of the semester, read the New York Times that is distributed daily on campus for its coverage of Latin American current affairs. Compare its coverage of one specific topic to how that same issue is treated in the Latin American News Digest (access on campus at, historically in the New York Times (access at, in the primary sources we have read in the class, and in the textbook. The essay must engage the treatment of a similar issue in each of these five sources. It should be about three to five pages long and must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers. Attach the clipping from the paper copy of the New York Times from this semester that you discuss in your essay (not a printout from a webpage). The essays will be graded on the relevance of the selected topic, the presentation of an innovative argument, the ability to present evidence to support that argument, the coherence of the essay’s organization, and the quality of writing. Due November 17.

Final Exam. The final exam is comprehensive.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Aug 23/25)    Intro & Geography
            Read: Meade, ch. 1
            Primary source: Martí, José. "Our America." In José Martí Reader: Writings on the Americas, edited by Deborah Shnookal and Mirta Muñiz, 111-20. Melbourne, Australia: Ocean Press, 1999.
Week 2 (Aug 30/Sept 1)          Colonial background
            Read: Meade, ch. 2
            Primary source: Bastidas, Puyucahua, Micaela. "Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua." In Women in Latin American History, Their Lives and Views, ed. June Edith Hahner, 30-31. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, 1976.

Week 3 (Sept 6/8)       Slavery
            Read: Meade, ch. 3
            Primary source: Louverture, Toussaint. "Constitution of the French Colony of Saint-Domingue." In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804: A brief history with documents, edited by Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus. Bedford Series in History and Culture, 167-70. Boston, MA ; New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006.

Week 4 (Sept 13/15)   Caudillos
            Read: Meade, ch. 4
            Primary source: López de Santa Anna, Antonio. "The Caudillo as Protagonist." In Problems in Modern Latin American History: A Reader, edited by John Charles Chasteen and Joseph S. Tulchin, 64-65. Wilmington, Del: SR Books, 1994.

Week 5 (Sept 20/22)   Neocolonialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 5
            Primary source: Calvo, Carlos. “The Calvo Clause.” In Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History, ed. Robert H. Holden and Eric Zolov, 68-69. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Week 6 (Sept 27/29)   Caste Wars
            Read: Meade, ch. 6
            Primary source: Cunha, Euclides da. Rebellion in the Backlands. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1944, 85-86.

Week 7 (Oct 4/6)         Mexican Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 7
            Primary source: Zapata, Emiliano. "Plan of Ayala." In The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. G. M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson, 339-43. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.

Week 8 (Oct 11)          Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 8
            Primary source: Mariátegui, José Carlos. "The New Peru." The Nation 128, no. 3315 (January 16, 1929): 78-79.

Week 9 (Oct 18/20)     Populism
            Read: Meade, ch. 9
            Primary source: Perón, Eva. "My Mission in Life." In Documenting Latin America: Gender, Race, and Empire, ed. Erin O'Connor and Leo Garofalo, ed., vol. 2, 178-82. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, 2011.

Week 10 (Oct 25/27)   Dictators
            Read: Meade, ch. 10
            Primary source: Barrios de Chungara, Domitila. Let Me Speak! Testimony of Domitila, a woman of the Bolivian mines. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978, 194-204.

Week 11 (Nov 1/3)      Cuban Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 11
            Primary source: Guevara, Che. "Guerrilla Warfare: A Method." In The Awakening of Latin America: A classic anthology of Che Guevara's writings on Latin America, edited by María del Carmen Ariet, 412-14. Melbourne, Vic: Ocean Press, 2013.

Week 12 (Nov 8/10)    Chilean Path to Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 12
            Primary source: Allende Gossens, Salvador. "Last Words Transmitted by Radio Magallanes, September 11, 1973." In Salvador Allende Reader: Chile's Voice of Democracy, edited by Salvador Allende Gossens, James D. Cockcroft and Jane Canning, 239-41. Melbourne, Vic., Australia, New York: Ocean Press, 2000.

Week 13 (Nov 15/17)  Liberation Theology
            Read: Meade, ch. 13
            Primary source: FSLN. "The Historic Program of the FSLN." In Sandinistas Speak, edited by Bruce Marcus, 13-22. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1982.
Nov 17: Newspaper essay due

Week 14 (Nov 29/Dec 1)        Pink Tide Governments
            Read: Meade, ch. 14
            Primary source: Chávez, Hugo. "Capitalism is Savagery." Z Magazine 18, no. 4 (April 2005): 53-54.

Week 15 (Dec 6/8)      Immigration
            Read: Meade, ch. 15
            Primary source: EZLN. "First Declaration From The Lacandon Jungle." In The Zapatista Reader, edited by Tom Hayden, 217-20. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.

Final Exam: Tuesday, Dec 13, 11:30-1:20

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