Republican Latin America (Winter 2018)

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


Republican Latin America – History 281

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Winter 2018

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:30-12:50

Location: Geoffrey R. Weller Library, 5-177

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. Second edition. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

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

All other primary and secondary sources are in the course-kit or can be accessed individually (for free) through the UNBC library. 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 Tuesdays and Thursdays. The readings will be discussed on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well. Students are expected to do the week’s readings before the Tuesday class.


  1. Attendance and participation, 15%
  2. Essay bibliography and library workshop. Thursday, January 18, 5%
  3. Primary document analysis. Due on Thursday, February 8, 20%
  4. Term test. Thursday, March 15, 30%
  5. Historiographic research essay. Due Tuesday, April 3, 30%
  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 are 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 Thursday, January 18. The bibliography is due in class on Thursday, January 25. 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 January 18.
  • 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 January 25.
  • Following the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style. For proper citation guidelines, see
  1. Primary document analysis: 3-4 pages. Students are required to critically analyze and discuss how the authors of any three primary documents assigned for the week of January 23-25 discuss a common theme (such as race, gender, colonialism, 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.
  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. 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 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 ten journal articles, chapters in edited books, or monographs not assigned in class. This is not an opinion piece nor a summary of a history 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.

Lecture and Reading Overview: 

January 4 – Spanish America on the Eve of Independence

  • Lectures:
    • Thursday: Course introduction and Latin America, 1790-1810
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 1, “Introduction to the Land and Its People,” 1-22.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 2, “Latin America in 1790,” 23-48.

January 9 and 11 – Independence and its Aftermath

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Indigenous America
    • Thursday: Independence in Spanish America
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 3, “Competing Notions of Freedom,” 49-80.

January 16 and 18 – Caudillismo

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Caudillismo
    • Thursday: No lecture. Class meets in the UNBC library (in computer lab on second floor)
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 4, “Fragmented Nationalisms,” 81-104.

Last day to add/drop courses without  financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. January 17.

January 23 and 25 – Indigenous Peoples, Liberal Republics, and Primary Documents

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: The Rise of Liberal Republics
    • Thursday: Pre-Columbian Pasts and Marginalized Presents
  • Readings:
    • 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.
      • “Lucio V. Mansilla: An Expedition to the Ranquel Indians,” 146-153.
      • “Charles Darwin: Wars of Extermination,” 115-118
    • Gilbert Joseph and Timothy Henderson. The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2002.
      • “José Vasconcelos: The Cosmic Race,” 15-19.
      • “Carlos Pellicer: Ode to Cuanhtémoc,” 406-10.
      • “Octavio Paz: The Sons of La Malinche,” 20-27.
    • Greg Grandin, Deborah Levenson, Elizabeth Oglesby. The Guatemala Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2011.
      • “Lindesay Brine: Travels amongst Indians,” 111-116.
    • Robert Levine and John Crocitti. The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1999.
      •  “Indian Protection Agency: Exotic Peoples,” 365-366
  • Recommended movie:
    • También la lluvia (Even the Rain), Spain, 2011.

January 30 and February 1 – Slavery and Nationhood in Brazil and Cuba in the Nineteenth Century

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Slavery in Brazil and Cuba
    • Thursday: No class.
  • Readings:
    • Ada Ferrer, “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” American Historical Review 117 (2012): 40-66.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 5, “Latin America’s Place in the Commodity Chain,” 105-134.
    • 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.

February 6 and 8 – Immigration to the Southern Cone

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Immigration, Labour, and Urbanization in Argentina
    • Thursday: 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.
    • Nouzeilles and Montaldo. The Argentina Reader.
      • “Juan Bautista Alberdi: Immigration as a Means of Progress,” 95-101.
      • “Alberto Gerchunoff: The Jewish Gauchos,” 193-195.
    • Video: Search YouTube for “Viaje en el tiempo – Buenos Aires 1930”

Primary document analysis due on Thursday, February 8

  • Recommended movie:
    • Sin nombre, Mexico, 2009.

February 13 and 15

  • Reading week. No readings and no classes.

February 20 and 22 – Gender and Family

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Gender and Family in Latin America
    • Thursday: Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires
  • Readings:
    • Ada Ferrer, “Rustic Men, Civilized Nation: Race, Culture, and Contention on the Eve of Cuban Independence,” Hispanic American Historical Review 78 (1998): 663-686.
    • Gabriela Cano, “Unconcealable Realities of Desire: Amelio Robles’s (Transgender) Masculinity in the Mexican Revolution,” in Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico, edited by Mary Kay Vaughan, Gabriela Cano, Jocelyn Olcott (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 35-56.
    • Levine and Crocitti. The Brazil Reader.
      •  “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.
    • 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. February 22.

February 27 and March 1 – The Mexican Revolution

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: The Mexican Revolution
    • Thursday: Populism in Latin America
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 7, “Revolution from Countryside to City, Mexico, 157-174.”
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 8, “The Left and the Socialist Alternative,” 175-192.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 9, “Populism and the Struggle for Change,” 193-212.

March 6 and 8 – Environment and Commodities

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Latin American Commodities
    • Thursday: Environmental History
  • Readings:
    • John Soluri, “Accounting for Taste: Export Bananas, Mass Markets, and Panama Disease,” Environmental History 7 (2002): 386-410.
    • Steve Marquardt, “‘Green Havoc’: Panama Disease, Environmental Change, and Labor Process in the Central American Banana Industry,” American Historical Review 106 (2001): 49-80.
    • Search YouTube for “Chiquita Banana Song, 1940s”
    • 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.

March 13 and 15 – Latin America and Canada

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Latin America and Canada
    • Thursday: Term test
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 10, “Post-World War II Struggles for Sovereignty,” 213-234.

March 20 and 22 – Latin America and the Cold War

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Latin America and the Cold War
    • Thursday: The Cuban Revolution
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 11, “Cuba: Guerrillas Take Power,” 235-250.
    • 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).

March 27 and 29 – Dictatorship and Repression

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Genocide in Central America
    • Thursday: 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.
    • Chomsky, Carr, and Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader.
      • “Silvio Rodríguez: Singing for Nicaragua,” 588-589.
  • Highly recommended movie:
    • La historia official (The Official Story), Argentina, 1985.

April 3 and 5 – Latin America Today

  • Lectures:
    • Tuesday: Change and Continuities in Latin American History
    • Thursday: No class.
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 14, “The Americas in the Twenty-First Century,” 305-334.

Essay due on April 3

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.

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 e-mail. 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.

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 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 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.


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: