Latin American Studies Courses

Spring 2018

War and Peace in Latin America
This course studies civil wars, political violence, and peace processes in Latin America. You will explore the causes of civil conflict, how armed organizations mobilize, why they vary in their use and repertoires of violence, how they interact with the civilian population, why they fragment or remain cohesive, and how they confront the state and international community. You will then examine how peace is sustained in Latin America, why it lasts in some cases and breaks down in others, focusing on the role of international interventions, power-sharing, reconciliation between adversaries, and reconstruction.
Instructors: Sarah Zukerman Daly
Public Health and Private Healing in the Atlantic World
This seminar explores the impact of transatlantic exchanges between Europe, Africa and the Americas on the development of the environmental, political and sociocultural trends that affect our health and our ability to heal today. During the first half of the semester we will reconstruct the interconnected histories of the medicalization of the West and the westernization of the Rest, from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century. In the second half of the semester we will explore the contemporary consequences of these historical developments.
Instructors: Adrian Lopez-Denis
Caribbean Revolutions: From Plantation Slavery to Global Tourism
The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to the history of the Caribbean from the arrival of its first human inhabitants to the present. During the first half of the semester we will examine the dual role of plantation slavery and European colonialism in the historical development of the region up until the opening of the Panama Canal. On the second half we will discuss how the Caribbean interacted with the United States and the world at large during the long Twentieth Century.
Instructors: Adrian Lopez-Denis

Courses are listed by catalogue number

Cross-Listed Courses

Spring 2018

Arts of the Americas: The First 5,000 Years
You live in the Americas: do you know about the prolific cultures who lived here before the European conquests? Are you curious about art, but wish you had a more hands-on understanding instead of seeing it behind glass? Do you wonder how a Eurocentric academic discipline might construct knowledge differently if considered from a non-European point of view? This course will provide both an introduction to art history through the ancient Americas, and to ancient American cultures, thoughts, and beliefs through their arts. Precepts will meet in the study room of the Art Museum, where we'll study up close its world-class Americas collection.
Instructors: Andrew James Hamilton
Of Love and Other Demons
Love is the subject of the world's greatest stories. The passions aroused by Helen of Troy brought down a city and made Homer's masterpiece possible, while the foolishness of those in love inspired Shakespeare and Cervantes to create their most memorable characters. Many powerful Latin American and Spanish stories deal with the force and effects of love. In this course, we will study a group of films and literary fictions that focus on different kinds and forms of love. We will pay special attention to the forms of narrative love (quest, courting, adultery, heartbreaking), as well as the translation of love into language, body, and image.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Introduction to the Literature and Culture of the Portuguese-Speaking World
Luanda, Lisbon, Rio, São Paulo...Through readings of selected texts and audiovisual materials, this course will visit the diverse cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world through the lens of culture produced in, by and about major cities. Historical and contemporary issues in several geographic areas will be approached comparatively.
Instructors: Nicola Trowbridge Cooney
Rap, Graffiti and Urban Cultures in the Hispanic Worlds
Graffiti and rap music have become main cultural phenomena in the last decades, revealing the desires, fears and demands of city dwellers in the Luso-Hispanic worlds, where hip-hop's global spirit blends with local cultural traditions. In NYC, Madrid, D.F., Rio and Buenos Aires, urban cultures have expressed the transformations of cities in a globalized world, and struggles on the part of their populations. Taking the Iberian case as an axis, this course analyzes the Hispanic global expansion of hip-hop cultures from the artistic, historical, social and political angles.
Instructors: Germán Labrador Méndez
Other Futures: An Introduction to Modern Caribbean Literature
This course introduces students to major theories and debates within the study of Caribbean literature and culture with a particular focus on the idea of catastrophe. Reading novels and poetry that address the historical loss and injustices that have given shape to the modern Caribbean, we will explore questions of race, gender, and sexuality and pay considerable attention to the figure of the black body caught in the crosscurrents of a catastrophic history. We will analyze how writers and artists attempted to construct alternative images of the future from the histories of slavery and colonialism that haunt the Caribbean and its diasporas.
Instructors: Nijah Cunningham
Brazilian History: Slavery, Race and Citizenship in Modern Brazil
This course will introduce students to the history of slavery and race relations in modern Brazil and will explore how it resonates in present-day debates about citizenship. Students will read classical and recent historical works as well as primary sources in order to gain a critical and comparative understanding of slavery as an institution in the Americas, and its adaptability to local realities. Students will be introduced to methods of historical research, with a particular focus on digital history. Students will write papers tackling how the history of slavery has distinctively shaped ideas of democracy, human rights and social justice.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Modern Caribbean History
This course will explore the major issues that have shaped the Caribbean since 1791, including: colonialism and revolution, slavery and abolition, migration and diaspora, economic inequality, and racial hierarchy. We will examine the Caribbean through a comparative approach--thinking across national and linguistic boundaries--with a focus on Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. While our readings and discussions will foreground the islands of the Greater Antilles, we will also consider relevant examples from the circum-Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora as points of comparison.
Instructors: Reena N. Goldthree, Robert A. Karl
Caribbean Women's History
This seminar investigates the historical experiences of women in the Caribbean from the era of European conquest to the late twentieth century. We will examine how shifting conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, class, and the body have shaped understandings of womanhood and women's rights. We will engage a variety of sources - including archival documents, films, newspaper accounts, feminist blogs, music, and literary works - in addition to historical scholarship and theoretical texts. The course will include readings on the Spanish-, English-, and French-speaking Caribbean as well as the Caribbean diaspora.
Instructors: Reena N. Goldthree
Pre-Columbian Peoples of Tropical America and Their Environments
The pre-European history of Amerind cultures and their associated environments in the New World tropics will be studied. Topics to be covered include the peopling of tropical America; development of hunting/gathering and agricultural economies; neotropical climate and vegetation history; and the material culture and social organization of native Americans. Field and laboratory experiences will incorporate methods and problems in field archaeology, paleoenthnobotany and paleoecology, and archaeozoology.
Instructors: Dolores R. Piperno, Anthony Ranere
Mexico's Tenth Muse: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Studies a variety of texts (poetry, comedia, mystery play, letters) written by the most celebrated female Hispanic writer of the seventeenth century, widely considered to be the first feminist of the American hemisphere. Discussions include: rhetoric and feminism; Sor Juana's literary forbearers; freedom and repression in the convent; correspondence with other writers in the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru; performances of gender and sexuality in colonial Mexico. Sessions to view and analyze first editions of Sor Juana's works of the Legaspi collection will be held at the Rare Books and Special Collections in Firestone.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Tropical Biology
"Tropical Biology" is an intensive, three-week field course given at four sites in Panama, examining the origins, maintenance and major interactions among terrestrial plants and animals. The course provides the opportunity to appreciate (1) floral and faunal turnover among four rainforest sites (beta-diversity); and (2) floral and faunal turnover along vertical gradients, from ground to upper canopy, at two rainforest sites (vertical stratification). Students carry out group and individual projects at the sites. Fieldwork is supported by six orientation walks that introduce participants to common orders and families of plants and arthropods.
The Body in Pieces
In 2012, the Reina Sofia Museum presented the exhibition "Losing the Human Form," featured works from the 1980s in Latin America that focused on the violence against bodies, and the radical responses of artists who based their work on liberty and transformation. This seminar takes the problems posited by the show as a point of departure for thinking about unmaking the body as a central function of modern and contemporary visual culture. Cognizant of the violence of 20th century Latin America, it places emphasis on the dictatorships of the Southern Cone, Colombia, Mexico, and cases in Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Roberto Bolaño: Adventures in Cultureland
Forty years after the emergence of Gabriel García Márquez, the narrative works of the Chilean Roberto Bolaño have once again put Latin American literature at the center of the world's cultural mainstream. Quiet poet, public storyteller, and heir of Borges' most intricate speculations and the beatniks' nomadism, Bolaño broke with the recipes of magical realism and opened a fresh literary horizon by combining anti-intellecutal vitalism and erudite conceptualism. This course explores the artistic strategies of an author who made Jim Morrison dialogue with James Joyce, and went from being an anonymous eccentric to a New York Times bestseller.
Instructors: Susana Draper
Critical Theory in Latin America and Beyond
This course introduces students to a number of traditions in critical theory from Latin America and beyond. How does ideology work? How do we understand art's relation to history and politics? How can political philosophy help us understand ongoing global conflicts and movements? Readings include selections from the Black Radical tradition, Marxism, Feminism, Subaltern Studies, Aesthetics. Authors include C.L.R. James, Theodore Adorno, Nelly Richard, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Roberto Schwarz, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, as well as select examples from literature and film.
Instructors: Rachel Lee Price
Olmec Art
This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
Inca Art and Architecture
This course examines the art, architecture, and worldview of the greatest Andean civilization, the Incas. Conquered in 1532 by the Spanish, the Incas are known through archaeological and historical sources. Neither, however, can be taken at face value. The destructions of the conquest and differential preservation mean the archaeological record is incomplete. Likewise, Spanish historical sources present the Incas through European understandings, logic, and attentions. This course compares the two to reach a nuanced understanding of this ancient civilization. A spring break excursion will visit Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lima.
Instructors: Andrew James Hamilton
Seminar in Comparative Politics: Latin American Democracy - Advances/Setbacks
Latin America's third wave of democracy has been more widespread and enduring than in any prior point in history. This seminar analyzes this critical transition to democracy alongside the challenges, advances and setbacks that contemporary Latin American countries have faced. We discuss the swing between Left and Right politics; innovations in participatory democratic institutions alongside enduring clientelism; new social policy programs designed to address inequality and poverty; the changing face of civil society and the rising salience of ethnic politics; and the uneven rise and political responses to violence.
Instructors: Deborah J. Yashar
Populism in Global History
Since the global recession of 2009, populism has surged back into public consciousness. For many, no other concept seems to explain the forces driving the contemporary political world as well as does populism. Yet, as with most political keywords, it is the subject of considerable confusion, disagreement, and argument. This course is meant to offer a historical understanding of a contradictory and complicated political form that has come to define our times.
Instructors: Joseph M. Fronczak
Latin American Politics
This graduate-level course focuses on core themes in Latin American politics. It focuses on a core set of theoretical debates about democracy and development in the Americas, while paying attention to parallel and diverse trajectories within the region.
Instructors: Deborah J. Yashar
Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: The Long 19th Century: Mimesis, Alterity, and Representation
This seminar explores the role of mimesis in political representation and state formation in Latin America, focusing on some of its most powerful and enduring symbolic articulations in the massive legal, literary, and scientific archive it generated during the nineteenth century-a long and turbulent century, characterized by revolutions, mass political mobilization, subaltern uprisings,utopian thinking, and sweeping modernization. Drawing upon Taussig's work on mimesis and alterity, we study how the modern political produces spaces of equality and of extreme differentiation.
Instructors: Maria Gabriela Nouzeilles
Seminar in Colonial Spanish American Literature: Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in the (Colonial) Andes
How do we theorize the practices of insurgency and resistance, apostasy and heresy, riots and boycotts? How are they recorded, if at all? Can they write themselves? We explore seminal texts of Colonial Latin America, with a focus on the Andes, to examine how these are both inscribed and erased from the Archive and, in so doing, question the category of the "colonial" itself and the various prefixes associated with it. Primary authors include Las Casas, Francisco de la Cruz (heretic), Vargas Machuca, Guaman Poma de Ayala, Francisco Vásquez, and Lope de Aguirre; theoretical works by Guha, De Certeau, Clover, and Hardt and Negri's Assembly, etc.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
May Days: Fifty Years of Iberian Countercultures (1968-2018)
This course seeks to analyze the cultural and political aftermaths of 1968's historical events in the Iberian Peninsula. Fifty years after the French May, the Prague Spring, the Tlatelolco massacre and the California's «summer of love», this seminar analyzes the theoretical, artistic and cultural heritages of the Sixties in the Iberian worlds. Among the topics to be explored are: psychedelic art, Civil Rights movement, utopia, Carnation revolution, the Spanish transition to democracy, neoliberalism and creative capitalism.
Instructors: Germán Labrador Méndez
Luso-Brazilian Seminar: #leiamulheres
Responding to the #readwomen movements across the world, we will discuss a possible feminine or feminist canon of Brazilian literature and culture. Readings include the poetry of Sappho translated into Portuguese, contemporary poetry and fiction, erotic literature, as well as canonical and controversial writings such as those of Clarice Lispector and Carolina Maria de Jesus. Cinema includes Yasmin Thayná, Petra Costa and Daniela Thomas.
Instructors: Pedro Meira Monteiro