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Latin America Revolutions (HIST 391):
Seminar on Revolutionary Theories

“We are anti-imperialists because we are Marxists,
because we are revolutionaries,
because we oppose capitalism with socialism,
an antagonistic system called upon to transcend it.”
–José Carlos Mariátegui (1929)

Spring 2006, Truman State University
MC 209, TR 1:30-2:50
Office: KB 225A

Marc Becker
Office Hours: W 1:30-3:30
Phone: x6036

            This course will present a critical comparative analysis of twentieth-century revolutionary theories in Latin America.  The goal of this class is to acquire a more complex understanding of the nature of exploitation in Latin America, intellectual responses to that oppression, and continuing struggles for social justice.
            This course meets the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Liberal Studies Program.  As such, it will provide you with a greater knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity through the study of encounters of Indigenous, European, and African worlds in the Andean World.  Hopefully this course will make you more aware of how culture has been used for political and social ends, including confronting racial discrimination, economic exploitation, and social injustice.

            You are expected and required to attend every class session, and you are responsi­ble for the material covered in the lectures, readings and films, and for any announce­ments made in class.  Unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade.  Please drop me an email note if you are sick or otherwise unable to attend class.  If you have a disability or any conflicts which may affect your class performance, please bring this to my attention immedi­ately so that we can make arrangements for this to be a positive learning experience for you.  Please let me know if you have suggestions for improving the class.  I do not treat students as empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge; we need to be constituents rather than simply recipients of our education.  Our goal is to challenge existing assumptions, engage alternative viewpoints, and encourage critical thinking.  Through the study of history, we seek to empower ourselves to be better citizens and to provide ourselves with the skills necessary to play a positive and educated role in society.

            There is one required book for this class in addition to other assigned readings and films.  We will run this course as a seminar (rather than a lecture course) in which class time will be focused on discussion, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings.
Löwy, Michael, ed. Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present: An Anthology, Translated from the Spanish, Portuguese, and French by Michael Pearlman ed. Revolutionary studies. Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books, 1999, ISBN: 1-573-92474-1

These readings (available on the course web page) will give those of you with little background on Latin America an overview of its history and how scholars have interpreted that history:

Jan Knippers Black, "Introduction: Understanding the Persistence of Inequity"; Peter Bakewell, "Colonial Latin America"; and Michael Conniff, "Latin America Since Independence: An Overview," in Latin America, its Problems and its Promise a Multidisciplinary Introduction, 4th ed., ed. Jan Knippers Black (Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 2005), 1-20, 78-100.

Assignments and grades
Discussion leader (10%): One student will be responsible for leading the discussion of each of the sections in Löwy.

Reaction papers (50%): Critique the argument in the introduction and each of the chapters (20 in total) in Löwy.  Who is the author, and why did this person write this item? What does it reveal (or conceal) about the author and that person’s politics, society, and other concerns? The essays should be about one or two pages long, typed, double spaced, follow good essay form (have an intro, thesis, conclusion, etc.) and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

Final paper (40%): Take one of the readings in Löwy and explore its historical context and legacy.  This should involve research that extends significantly beyond Löwy.  The paper should be fifteen to twenty pages long, typed, double spaced, follow good essay form (have an intro, thesis, conclusion, etc.) and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.  The paper is due at the time of the Final Exam (Tuesday, May 9, 1:30-3:20).

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