Republican Latin America (Fall 2015)

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

Syllabus Republican Latin America – History 281

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2015

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 14:30-15:50

Course Description: This course explores Latin American history from 1790 to the present, tracing the development of dozens of nation-states out of Spanish and Portuguese colonies. It seeks to provide an overview of the history of the region, particularly by focusing on the topics of independence, indigenous peoples, slavery, state formation, nationalism, labour, and the Cold War. In addition to this topical approach, the readings and lectures will focus on broader themes in modern Latin American history such as gender and race. Special attention will be paid to the histories of Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Brazil. The course will explore how internal and external forces such as social inequalities, racial hierarchies, and export economies as well as colonial and neo-colonial legacies shaped the diverse histories of Latin American countries.

Purpose and Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of Latin American history.

2) The ability to critically analyze and discuss primary documents.

3) The ability to identify historiographic debates.

4) A greater understanding of the place of Latin America in world history.

Required Readings:

Teresa Meade. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Sussex: Wilely Blackwell, 2010.

  • One copy of this book is on reserve at the library.
  • You can purchase it at the bookstore for approximately $50.

All other primary and secondary sources will be posted on Blackboard. Three videos, also serving as primary documents (required readings), can be found on YouTube. If the link in this syllabus does not work, search for the title provided.

Recommended movies:

The following movies are recommended but not a requirement for this course. Films such as these provide an opportunity to learn more about different Latin American societies. These films touch on many of the topics in this course.

También la lluvia (Even the Rain), Spain, 2011.

Cidade de Deus (City of God), Brazil, 2002.

Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), USA, 2004.

Che: Part One, USA, 2008.

La historia official (The Official Story), Argentina, 1985.

Sin nombre (Without a Name), Mexico, 2009.

Course Structure: A lecture on one of the course themes will be given on Mondays and Wednesdays. The readings will be discussed on Mondays and Wednesdays as well. Students are expected to do the week’s readings before the Monday class.


  1. Attendance and participationm 20%
  2. Essay bibliography and library workshop, Wednesday, September 30, 5%
  3. Historiographic research essay. Due Wednesday, October 21, 25%
  4. Term test. Monday, November 9, 25%
  5. Primary document analysis. Due on Monday, November 30, 25%
  1. Attendance and participation: Students are expected to attend all classes and to participate in the weekly discussions of the readings. Evaluation will be based both on attendance and a demonstrated mastery of the readings. Students are required to read an average of 50 pages per week (primary and secondary documents combined). If you uncomfortable speaking in class, discuss this with me in the first week of the term. I am willing to consider alternative methods of evaluation.
  1. Essay bibliography and library workshop: Students have to attend a workshop at the UNBC library on Wednesday, September 30. The bibliography is due in class on Monday, October 5. The workshop will take place during regular class hours, but it will be in the computer lab on the 2nd floor of the library. Evaluation of this assignment is based on three criteria.
  • Attending the workshop with a librarian on September 30.
  • Submitting a bibliography with six book titles or journal articles that will be used for the historiographic research essay. All titles on the bibliography should be organized around a single theme in modern Latin American history (e.g. independence, slavery, education, religion, indigenous peoples, migration, work, economics, agriculture, media, dictatorship, etc.). This bibliography is due on October 5.
  • Following the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style. For proper citation guidelines, see
  1. Historiographic research essay. 8-10 pages. Students will select a topic from a list that I distribute or of their own choice upon consultation with me. They are asked to write a historiographic research paper, analyzing three themes that run through several scholarly perspectives on the selected essay topic. Students can draw from course readings. However, they need to make use of new material beyond the assigned readings. The paper should draw from at least eight journal articles, chapters in edited books, or monographs not assigned in class. This is not an opinion piece but rather an analysis of the scholarly arguments. A more detailed description of expectations will be distributed three weeks before the due date. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with me in the weeks leading up to the due date.
  1. Term test. 70 minutes, in class. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and the secondary readings (not primary documents).
  1. Primary document analysis: 4-5 pages. Students are required to critically analyze and discuss how the authors of three primary documents assigned in class discuss a common theme (such as race, gender, government, the nation, slavery, the economy, hardship, etc.). A more detailed description of expectations will be distributed in class and posted on Blackboard three weeks before the due date. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with me in the weeks leading up to the due date.

Lecture and Reading Overview:

September 9 – Spanish America on the Eve of Independence

  • Lectures:
    • Wednesday: Course introduction and Spanish America, 1790-1810
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 1, “Introduction to the Land and Its People,” 1-20.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 2, “Latin America in 1790,” 23-48.

September 14 and 16 – Independence and its Aftermath

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Indigenous America
    • Wednesday: Independence in Spanish America
  • Readings:
    • Ada Ferrer, “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” American Historical Review 117 (2012): 40-66.

September 21 and 23 – Slavery and Nationhood in Brazil and Cuba in the Nineteenth Century

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Slavery in Brazil
    • Wednesday: Slavery in Cuba
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 3, “Competing Notions of Freedom,” 49-78.
    • Ada Ferrer, “Rustic Men, Civilized Nation: Race, Culture, and Contention on the Eve of Cuban Independence,” Hispanic American Historical Review 78 (1998): 663-686.
    • Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2004.
      • “Miguel Barnet: Biography of a Runaway Slave,” 58-64.
  • Recommended movie:
    • Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), USA, 2004.

Last day to add/drop courses without  financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. September 23.

September 28 and 30 – Caudillismo

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Caudillismo
    • Wednesday: No lecture. Class meets in the UNBC library (in computer lab on second floor)
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 4, “Fragmented Nationalisms,” 81-104.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 5, “Latin America’s Place in the Commodity Chain,” 105-134.
    • Gilbert Joseph and Timothy Henderson. The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2002.
      • Frances Calderón de la Barca, “Women and War in Mexico,” 196-205.
    • The Chicago Manual of Style

October 5 and 7 – Indigenous Peoples and Liberal Republics

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Rise of Liberal Republics
    • Wednesday: Pre-Columbian Pasts and Marginalized Presents
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 7, “Revolution from Countryside to City, Mexico, 157-174.”
    • Joseph and Henderson. The Mexico Reader.
      • “José Vasconcelos: The Cosmic Race, 15-19”
    • Gabriella Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo. The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2002.
      • “Chief Manuel Namuncurá: Letter to the President,” 154-156.
      • “Domingo Faustino Sarmiento: Civilization or Barbarism?” 80-90.
  • Recommended movie:
    • También la lluvia (Even the Rain), Spain, 2011.

October 12 and 14 – Thanksgiving and Research Week

  • Historiographic research paper due next week.
  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Thanksgiving, university closed.
    • Wednesday: No lecture so that students can work on research paper.
  • Readings:
    • No readings.

October 19 and 21 – Immigration to the Southern Cone

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Immigration, Labour, and Urbanization in Argentina
    • Wednesday: Immigration and Race in Brazil
  • Readings:
    • José Moya, “A Continent of Immigrants: Postcolonial Shifts in the Western Hemisphere,” Hispanic American Historical Review 86, no. 1 (2006): 1–28.
    • Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein, “Challenging Particularity: Jews as a Lens on Latin American Ethnicity,” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 1 (2006): 249–263.
    • Nouzeilles and Montaldo. The Argentina Reader.
      • “Juan Bautista Alberdi: Immigration as a Means of Progress,” 94-101.
      • “Alberto Gerchunoff: The Jewish Gauchos,” 193-195.
    • Video: Search YouTube for “Viaje en el tiempo – Buenos Aires 1930”
  • Recommended movie:
    • Sin nombre, Mexico, 2009.

October 26 and 28 – Gender and Family

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Gender and Family in Latin America
    • Wednesday: Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 6, “Immigration, and Urban and Rural Life,” 135-156.
    • Robert Levine and John Crocitti. The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1999.
      • “The Integral Woman: Província de Guanabara,” 317-318.
      • “Maria Puerta Ferreira: The Children Always Had Milk,” 319-322.
    • Nouzeilles and Montaldo. The Argentina Reader.
      • “Alfonsina Storni: Modern Women,” 254-258.
    • Steven Palmer and Iván Molina. The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.
      • “Thomas Francis Meagher: Holidays in Costa Rica, 1858,” 69-83.
      • “Visit Beautiful Costa Rica! Tourism Propaganda of Another Era,” 334-335.
    • Chomsky, Carr, and Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader.
      • “Tomás Fernández Robaina: The Brothel of the Caribbean,” 257-259.
  • Recommended movie:
    • Cidade de Deus (City of God), Brazil, 2002.

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. October 29

November 2 and 4 – The Mexican Revolution

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Mexican Revolution
    • Wednesday: Populism
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 8, “The Left and the Socialist Alternative,” 175-192.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 9, “Populism and the Struggle for Change,” 193-212.

November 9 and 11 – Latin America and the US Empire

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Latin America and the US Empire
    • Wednesday: Remembrance Day. No classes
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 10, “Post-World War II Struggles for Sovereignty,” 213-234.
    • Palmer and Molina. The Costa Rica Reader.
      • “Prospectus: National Association of Coffee Producers,” 123-126.
      • “Banana Strike Confidential. Diplomatic Service of the United States of America,” 128-131.
      • “Notice to West Indian Farmers! West Indian Strike Committee,” 132-133.
      • “From Rain Forest to Banana Plantation: A Workers’ Eye View,” 293-297.

November 16 and 18 – Latin America and the Cold War

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Latin America and the Cold War
    • Wednesday: The Cuban Revolution
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 11, “Cuba: Guerrillas Take Power,” 235-249.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 13, “Revolution and Its Alternatives,” 277-304.
    • Search YouTube for: “Che Guevara at the United Nations, 1964”
    • Chomsky, Carr, and Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader.
      • “Fidel Castro: Castro Calls on Cubans to Resist the Counterrevolution,” 536-539.
      • “Fidel Castro: Castro Announces the Revolution,” 341-343.
      • “Silvio Rodríguez: Singing for Nicaragua,” 588-589.
  • Recommended movie:
    • Che: Part One, USA, (2008).

November 23 and 25 – Dictatorship and Repression

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Genocide in Central America
    • Wednesday: Dictatorship and the Disappeared in the Southern Cone
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 12, “Progress and Reaction,” 251-276.
    • Nouzeilles and Montaldo. The Argentina Reader.
      • “National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons: Never Again,” 440-447.
    • Levine and Crocitti. The Brazil Reader.
      • “Araken Tavora: Rehearsal for the Coup,” 231-234.
      • “Antonio Pedro Tota: The Military Regime,” 235-237.
      • “Excerpts from the 1967 Brazilian Constitution,” 238-240.
  • Highly recommended movie:
    • La historia official (The Official Story), Argentina, 1985.

November 30 and December 2 – Democracy and Memory

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Return to Democracy
    • Wednesday: Consuming Latin America
  • Readings:

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard at least 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 me. 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 ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (

History majors: Those interested in majoring or minoring in history, please come talk to me during my office hours or after class.

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. It is advised 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.

Twitter: Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@BenjaminBryce2). I tweet articles about university affairs, graduate school, and history in the media. I will also use the hashtag #hist281 to tweet articles, images, and songs related to course topics. All students are welcome to use this hashtag and to tweet articles, movies, images, and songs related to course topics as well. Please remember to compose all tweets using the professional language that is expected in the classroom at the University of Northern British Columbia. Using Twitter is not a requirement for this course. No important course content will be distributed over Twitter. The hashtag #hist281 exists only to share related materials and to create a sense of community.

Submission of written work and 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. 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 the Administration Building) 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 mailbox. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, send me your assignment 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 well in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify me 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 and academic offences could lead to permanent expulsion from UNBC. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

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.

SafeAssign: Students are required to submit a digital version of their essays to SafeAssign through Blackboard. SafeAssign describes itself as “a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of sources to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.” If you do not want to submit your essay through SafeAssign, you can instead submit photocopies of all your research notes along with your essay.

Accessibility and Accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability or health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach me to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability or if you have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom, or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

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: