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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

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

Fall 2020, Truman State University
MC209, MWF 9:30-10:20
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker

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.

See the syllabus addendum on Blackboard for additional class policies.


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

Assignment                                                                                         Points
15 chapter quizzes (10 pts ea.)                                                150
15 primary source analyses (40 pts ea.)                                  600
Final exam                                                                              250

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. At least 900 points are necessary for an A, 800 for a B, 700 for a C, and 600 for a D. Fewer than 600 points is an F. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Weekly quizzes. A weekly quiz is on the Blackboard webpage for each chapter from the Meade textbook.

Primary source analyses. Write a one to two-page essay that uses the Meade textbook reading for the corresponding week to interrogate the perspective presented in each primary source for that week.
            In order to analyze the primary sources, think about what the documents reveal, what they conceal, and how the experiences and perspectives of the authors shaped their 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?

The essays should not be a response to these questions, but use these questions to analyze the perspectives in the sources and in the textbook. Include specific references to the readings with quotes and citations to argue your larger point. The essays must be typed, double-spaced, and include page numbers, citations and a bibliography.

Final Exam. The final exam will ask you to analyze these five transversal themes that we will study across the semester (so pay attention to them and be sure to take note when and how they emerge in the readings and discussions):

  1. Race and gender
  2. Religion
  3. Leadership styles (caudillos, populists, etc.)
  4. Neocolonialism and imperialism
  5. Revolutions

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Aug 17-21)   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 24-28)   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 (Aug 31-Sept 4)         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 7-11)     Caudillos
            Read: Meade, ch. 4
            Primary source: Galeano, Eduardo. Memory of Fire: II. Faces and Masks. New York: Pantheon Books, 1987, 188-89.

Week 5 (Sept 14-18)   Neocolonialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 5
            Primary source: Monroe, James. “1823: The Monroe Doctrine.” In Latin America and the United States: A documentary history, edited by Robert H. Holden and Eric Zolov, 11-14. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Week 6 (Sept 21-25)   Caste Wars
            Read: Meade, ch. 6
            Primary source: Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, “Law of Disentailment of Church and Corporate Property,” in Mexican History: A primary source reader, ed. Nora E. Jaffary, Edward W. Osowski, and Susie S. Porter (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2010), 246-48.

Week 7 (Sept 28-Oct 2)          Mexican Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 7
            Primary source: Lewis, Oscar. Pedro Martínez: A Mexican Peasant and His Family. New York: Vintage Books, 1964, 92-94.

Week 8 (Oct 5-9)        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 12-16)    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 19-23)  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 (Oct 26-30)  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 2-6)     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 9-13)   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.

Week 14 (Nov 16-20) Pink Tide Governments
            Read: Meade, chs. 14
            Primary source: Chávez, Hugo. "Capitalism is Savagery." Z Magazine 18, no. 4 (April 2005): 53-54.

Week 15 (Nov 23)      Conservative Restoration
            Read: Meade, ch. 15
            Primary source: TBA

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