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download pdfLatin America Revolutions (HIST 391)

“In this part of the world the possibility is almost totally gone
for there to be a peaceful transition to socialism.”
- Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1963)

Spring 2018, Truman State University
BH101, MWF 11:30-12:20
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker
Office Hours: typically MWF 12:30-11:15 & MW 2:30-5:00
Phone: x6036

This course will present a critical comparative analysis of twentieth-century revolutionary movements in Latin America. We will examine these events through the lens of those who participated in these activities. What socio-political conditions led to a revolutionary situation? What were the differing responses to those conditions? What did these revolutions seek to accomplish? What were the outcomes of these revolutionary changes? In addressing these issues, we will emphasize the themes of nationalism, state formation, imperialism, agrarian reform, leadership strategies, and citizenship. The goal of this class is to acquire a more complex understanding of the nature of exploitation and oppression in Latin America and the 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 Latin America. 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.

This course also has an optional study abroad trip to Cuba during spring break (March 10-18). For more information, see

See the syllabus addendum on Blackboard for additional class policies.


Joseph, G. M., and Jürgen Buchenau. Mexico's Once and Future Revolution: social upheaval and the challenge of rule since the late nineteenth century. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780822355328
Chomsky, Aviva. A history of the Cuban Revolution. Second edition. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. ISBN: 9781118942284
Power, Margaret. Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine power and the struggle against Allende, 1964-1973. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0271021950
Zimmermann, Matilde. Sandinista: Carlos Fonseca and the Nicaraguan Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0-8223-2595-0

Assignments and grades

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Response papers (4 x 100 pts ea)                                          400 pts
Cuba essay                                                                              100
Research paper proposal                                                          50
Primary source                                                                        100
Research paper                                                                       250
Final exam                                                                               100

Response papers: Prepare a three-page written response to each assigned book. Briefly state the authors’ main arguments and the evidence that they use. Examine the use of sources, methodology, and theory. Provide your own assessment or critique of the readings. The essays must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations and page numbers. 100pts each.

Cuba essay: Select one book from the reading list on Blackboard. Read the entire book, write an analysis of its main arguments and use of evidence, and present your findings to the class (March 2-9). 100pts.

Research paper proposal: Submit a paragraph describing your project, the research questions you seek to address with the project, a hypothesis of what you expect to find (the thesis statement of your research paper), and a preliminary bibliography of sources that you plan to use. Due March 23. 50pts.

Primary source: Select a primary source related to your research topic from the microfilm collection ( Try to find something that relates as closely as possible to your research topic. Have me approve the source in advance, and then write a paper (typed, double-spaced, about 3 pages, citations, bibliography, page numbers) analyzing the document and its historical perspective. Attach a copy of the document to the essay. Due March 30. 100pts.

Research paper: Write a research paper on a topic related to Latin American revolutions. The paper must use a minimum of six scholarly sources (including at least one book and one journal article) and one primary source, and should be 15-20 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers. The format should follow Mary Lynn Rampolla, A pocket guide to writing in history. Due May 4. 250pts.

Final exam:  The final exam is comprehensive and cumulative. 100pts.

Class Schedule

Jan 17
Jan 19: Chomsky, Intro

Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)
Jan 22: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 1
Jan 24: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 2
Jan 26: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 3

Jan 29: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 4
Jan 31: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 5
Feb 2: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 6

Feb 5: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 7
Feb 7: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 8
Feb 9: Joseph/Buchenau, ch. 9; Joseph/Buchenau essay due

Cuban Revolution (1959–)
Feb 12: Chomsky, ch. 1
Feb 14: Chomsky, ch. 2
Feb 16: Chomsky, ch. 3

Feb 19: Chomsky, ch. 4
Feb 21: Chomsky, ch. 5
Feb 23: Chomsky, ch. 6

Feb 26: Chomsky, ch. 7
Feb 28: Chomsky, ch. 8/Conc; Chomsky essay due

March 2-9: Cuba book reports

Chilean Road to Socialism (1970–1973)
March 19: Power, Preface/Intro/ch. 1
March 21: Power, ch. 2
March 23: Power, ch. 3; Research paper proposal due

March 26: Power, ch. 4
March 28: Power, ch. 5
March 30: Power, ch. 6; Primary source due

April 4: Power, ch. 7
April 6: Power, ch. 8/Conc/Epilogue; Power essay due

Nicaraguan Sandinistas (1979–1990)
April 9: Zimmermann, Intro/ch. 1
April 11: Zimmermann, ch. 2
April 13: Zimmermann, ch. 3

April 16: Zimmermann, ch. 4
April 18: Zimmermann, ch. 5
April 20: Zimmermann, ch. 6

April 23: Zimmermann, ch. 7
April 25: Zimmermann, ch. 8
April 27: Zimmermann, ch. 9-10, Epilogue; Zimmermann essay due

April 30-May 4: Presentations; Research paper due

Final exam: Monday, May 7, 11:30-1:20

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