Environment, Export Economies, and Workers in Latin America (Fall 2018)

Draft. See Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.

Syllabus 

HIST 493/708 – Workers and Environment in Latin America

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2018

Time: Fridays, 14:30-17:20

Location: Teaching and Learning Centre 10-4560

E-mail: ben.bryce@unbc.ca

Office: McCaffray Hall 3092

Office Hours: Thursdays, 16:30-17:30 and Fridays by appointment

Course Description: This course explores the relationship between workers, the environment, and capital in Latin America. It focuses on the emergence of agricultural export economies and the communities involved in environmental and economic change. We will examine common themes in the unique histories of many countries in Latin America, and the course will provide students with a greater understanding of environmental and labour history in the region and the relationship between Latin America and international consumers. It situates Latin America in an international context and highlights the role of other regions of the world in social and economic changes in Latin America.

Learning Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of Latin American history and its place in world history.

2) A greater ability to critically discuss historiography.

3) An introduction to archival research and increased experience working with primary documents.

Course Structure: Class time in this seminar course will be dedicated to discussions of assigned readings, student presentations, and discussions of research projects. Written assignments will build on the topics examined in class, but they will require additional reading. There will be no lectures in this class because it is a fourth-year seminar intended for history majors.

Evaluation for HIST 493: (for MA students enrolled in HIST 708, see modified grade scheme below)

a) Participation, 25%

b) In-class presentation, 10%

c) Assignment 1: Description of online archival sources, 500 words, September 28, 10%

d) Assignment 2: Primary document analysis, 1500-1800 words, November 2, 20%

e) Assignment 3: Peer review workshop, November 30, 5%

f) Assignment 4: Essay, 3000-4000 words, December 14, 30%

a) As a fourth-year seminar, discussion is an essential part of this course, and students will learn from one another. Students are expected to attend class every week and actively participate in the discussion of the readings. Students will be required to read approximately 110 pages per week, and they should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and share some critical thoughts about the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates.

b) In-class presentation. Dates to be chosen in the first week of class. Each student will have to make one presentation to the group (between 5 and 7 minutes) on the main themes that appear in the week’s assigned readings. Students should be able to identify the main arguments of the readings and connect the readings to the general themes of the course.

c) Description of online archival sources. 500 words. Students are asked to locate and describe the contents of one online archive that could be used to carry out in-depth research on one of the course themes.

d) Primary document analysis. 1500-1800 words. Students are asked to write a short research paper based on at least five primary documents (each document should range in length from 1 to 15 pages) and citing the assigned course readings where appropriate. Students are encouraged to draw from the sources found in the online archive that they described for assignment 1. If this proves too difficult, students can instead find primary documents in any of the following books: The Costa Rica Reader, The Brazil Reader, The Cuba Reader, The Mexico Reader, or The Guatemala Reader (Duke University Press). They are all on reserve in the library and contain hundreds of primary documents related to the course themes.

e) Peer review workshop. Evaluation will be based on attendance and participation as well as on bringing a completed draft of the assignment to class. Students will have to attend class and participate in the exercise in order to receive any marks for this assignment. Students need to bring a draft of their final essay (at least 10 pages; the final essay should be longer, 3000-4000 words) and that draws from at least seven of the twelve required publications. Students need to bring three printed copies of their essays. Two will be read by two classmates, and those classmates will give the author feedback. The other essay will be left with Dr. Bryce to ensure that the student has completed a draft of the essay. Revision is an important part of academic writing, and the goal of this exercise is to help students give and receive feedback to peers in order to revise their work.

f) 3000-4000 words. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a historiographic debate found in at least twelve publications (books or articles). Outside research is required, and at least twelve books or articles not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class in addition to twelve other publications. The topic is open but it must relate to one of the main themes of the course. A list of possible topics will be circulated in class, but students are free to pick their own topic after discussing it with Dr. Bryce. This assignment should be submitted as a Word document or PDF via Blackboard by the end of the day (23:59) that it is due.

Evaluation for HIST 708: The due dates for HIST 708 differ. Assignments are different, or they are weighted differently and are more challenging than for undergraduate students.

a) Participation, 20%

b) In-class presentation, dates assigned in first class, 10%

c) Assignment 1: Archival description, 800 words, September 28, 10%

d) Assignment 2: Primary document analysis, 1800 words, November 2, 20%

e) Assignment 3: Book review, 600-800 words, November 16, 10%

f) Assignment 4: Essay, 4000-5000 words, December 14, 30%

a) As a graduate seminar, discussion is extremely important, and students will learn from one another. Students are expected to attend class every week and actively participate in the discussion of the readings. Students will be required to read approximately 110 pages per week, and they should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and engage critically with the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates. Graduate students are also expected to attend and participate in the peer review activity on November 30. Submitting a draft of their essay is optional for students enrolled in 708, and their attendance that day will count toward their overall participation grade.

b) In-class presentation. Dates to be chosen in the first week of class. Graduate students will have to make one presentation to the group (between 6 and 8 minutes) on the main themes that appear in the week’s assigned readings. Students should be able to identify the main arguments of the readings and connect the readings to the general topics of the course.

c) Archival description. 800 words. Students are asked to locate and describe the contents of one archive that could be used to carry out research on one of the course themes. This archive can be online or in a physical location. For a physical archive (located anywhere in the world), students will have to consult the archive’s finding aids.

d) Primary document analysis. 1800 words. Students will be asked to write a short research paper based on at least eight primary documents (each document should range in length from 1 to 15 pages) and citing the assigned course readings where appropriate. If you described an online archive for assignment 1, your sources can come from that online archive. If this proves too difficult, students can instead find primary documents in any of the following books: The Costa Rica Reader, The Brazil Reader, The Cuba Reader, The Mexico Reader, or The Guatemala Reader (Duke University Press). They are on reserve in the library and contain hundreds of primary documents related to the course themes.

e) Book review. 600-800 words. Students will be asked to write a review of an academic book, following examples of other book reviews. Students can search for reviews of the five assigned monographs used in this course in journals such as the American Historical Review, the Hispanic American Historical Review, or The Americas. Students are advised to review a book published since 2000 and one that they will use in assignment 6. If students choose a book published after 2016, they can consult with Dr. Bryce about submitting a revised version of their review to an academic journal.

f) 4000-5000 words. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a historiographic debate found in at least fourteen publications (books, articles, book chapters). Outside research is required, and at least fourteen publications not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can also analyze the assigned course readings when appropriate, but this must be in addition to fourteen new publications. The topic is open but it must relate to one of the main themes of the course. A list of possible topics will be circulated in class, but students are free to pick their own topic after discussing it with Dr. Bryce. This assignment should be submitted as a Word document via Blackboard by the end of the day (23:59) that it is due.

Required Readings:

The following books are on sale at the UNBC bookstore and are on reserve at the library. The one assigned journal article (week 1) can be accessed via the library’s catalogue.

John Soluri. Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

Heidi Tinsman. Buying into the Regime: Grapes and Consumption in Cold War Chile and the United States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014. (eBook also available in the library).

Lara Putnam. The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Thomas Rogers. The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Christopher Boyer. Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. (eBook also available in the library).

Suggested Readings:

Students without a background in Latin American history are expected to fill in those gaps as needed in order to ensure their own success in this fourth-year seminar. Students should read selected chapters of one of these or another textbook covering modern Latin American history.

Teresa Meade. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Second edition. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. 2010 edition on reserve in the library.

John Charles Chasteen. Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016. On reserve in the library.

Thomas Skidmore, Peter Smith, and James Green. Modern Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. On reserve in the library.

Peter Winn. Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2006. On reserve in the library.

Course Overview:

September 7

  • Introduction
  • Readings:
    • Stuart McCook. “The Neo-Columbian Exchange: The Second Conquest of the Greater Caribbean, 1720-1930.” Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 11-31.
    • Part of any of the textbooks in “Suggested Readings”

September 14

  • Commodities and Science
  • Readings:
    • John Soluri. Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005. Introduction-Chapter 3 (pp. 1-103).

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. September 19.

September 21

  • Landscapes and Science
  • Readings:
    • Soluri. Banana Cultures. Chapters 4-8 (pp. 104-246)

September 28

  • The Ethics of Food
  • Readings:
    • Heidi Tinsman. Buying into the Regime: Grapes and Consumption in Cold War Chile and the United States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014. Introduction-Chapter 2 (pp. 1-102).

Assignment 1 due September 28. Description of online archival source

October 5

  • South-North Connections
  • Readings:
    • Tinsman. Buying into the Regime. Chapters 3-5 (pp. 103-254).

October 12

  • Race and Gender in the Caribbean
  • Readings:
    • Lara Putnam. The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. Introduction-Chapter 3 (pp. 3-111).

October 19

  • Labour Migration in the Caribbean
  • Readings:
    • Putnam. The Company They Kept. Chapter 4-Conclusion (pp. 112-217).

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. 50% tuition refund. October 25

October 26

  • No Class.
  • Work on Primary Document Assignment and do readings for next week.

November 2

  • Environmental Change and Labour in Brazil
  • Readings:
    • Thomas Rogers. The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. Introduction-Chapter 3 (pp. 1-96).

Assignment 2 due November 2. Primary document analysis

November 9

  • Agriculture and Modernization in Brazil
  • Readings:
    • Rogers. The Deepest Wounds. Chapters 4-7 (pp. 99-217).

November 16

  • Forestry and the State
  • Readings:
    • Christopher Boyer. Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. Introduction-Chapter 3 (pp. 1-127).

November 23

  • Developmentalism and Nature
  • Readings:
    • Boyer. Political Landscapes. Chapter 4-Conclusion (pp. 129-257).

November 30

  • Peer review workshop
  • No readings

Assignment 3: Draft of essay due

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard three weeks before the due date. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

Definition of Grades: Papers for this course will be marked according to the scale set by the History Department. An “A” essay is an excellent piece of work, which argues a clearly developed and challenging thesis, the proof of which is grounded in an exceptional usage of relevant primary and/or secondary literature. The research should demonstrate both critical evaluation and creativity while the writing should be sophisticated, coherent, and grammatically sound. In order to receive a final grade in the range of A- to A+, students will be expected to demonstrate consistently: independence of thought; subtle and complex analysis; the ability to grasp, articulate, and respond to arguments offered by others; and an exceptional understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “B” essay demonstrates good research skills, a clearly stated thesis, and a generally successful attempt to develop it logically, based upon secondary literature. The research should reflect an above-average development of ideas and criticism, while the writing should be clear and demonstrate a basic competence in organizational skills and grammar. As such, there should be few grammatical or structural errors. In order to receive a final grade in the range of B- to B+, students will be expected to demonstrate: the potential to engage in independent thought; an appreciation of the complexity of the issues under consideration; and a good understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “C” essay demonstrates that the author possesses a basic understanding of the material and some of the secondary literature, but has unsuccessfully endeavoured to articulate a thesis. While revealing knowledge, comprehension, and some application of information, usually the work also contains grammatical, structural, and organizational errors or flaws. Overall, the essay is adequate but uninspired. In order to receive a final grade in the range of C- to C+, students will be expected to demonstrate some awareness of the complexity of the issues under consideration and a satisfactory understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “D” essay fails to make its case or articulate a thesis. It is marked by a combination of illogical thinking, grammatical errors, flawed research, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the assignment. There is little application, analysis, or integration of ideas, and the essay generally fails to demonstrate a working knowledge of the topic at hand. In order to receive a final grade of D, students will be expected to demonstrate minimal competence. Although there may be evidence of an understanding of certain aspects of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussion, there is also evidence of difficulty in applying or communicating this understanding.

An “F” essay is inadequate in that it demonstrates fragmentary and often undigested information. It tends towards compiling rather than analyzing information and reveals a weakness in critical or analytical skills. The use of literature is often severely limited if not inappropriate or irrelevant. Overall, the essay is marked by a profound absence of thinking about the topic or the assignment. In order to receive a final grade of F, students will have failed to give evidence of being intellectually engaged in the subject matter of the course and will have failed to demonstrate even a minimal understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with Dr. Bryce. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have or raise them in class. If you cannot make it to my office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library (http://www.unbc.ca/academic-success-centre/library-writing-centre). The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (http://www.unbc.ca/academic-success-centre).

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. I advise that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. If an assignment is not handed in in class, it is considered a day late. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. This late penalty applies to weekends and holidays as well. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a valid medical certificate.

Submission of late assignments: To submit a late assignment, hand in a paper version to the administrative assistant in the Department of History (Loreen Obst, whose office is room 3007 on the third floor of McCaffray Hall) before 16:30 on a weekday. She will date-stamp the essay. Once you hand in the paper version, send me an e-mail and a digital copy of your essay so that I know to look for it in my departmental mailbox. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, send me your assignment via e-mail and then hand in the hardcopy on the next business day. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously. Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here: http://www.unbc.ca/calendar/undergraduate/regulations

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach Dr. Bryce to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability, or have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at arc@unbc.ca (http://www.unbc.ca/access-resource-centre/contact).

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website:

http://www.unbc.ca/calendar/undergraduate/regulations

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