Spring 2022 Courses
From the US-backed dictatorships of the Cold War, to contemporary examples of state violence, many Latin Americans have experienced grave human rights violations. At the same time however, activists in the region have propelled significant international human rights advances. Examining concepts and cases from the anthropology of human rights, this course explores questions of rights as they affect Indigenous peoples, women, gay and lesbian populations, migrants, the urban poor, and children. By analyzing these cases, we will gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and risks facing the future of human rights in the Latin America.
In this class we will trouble the idea of "The Northern Triangle" by prying apart that grouping, examining each country's unique stories, and taking a nuanced look at shared phenomena. We will cover: the history and legacy of US intervention, the evolution of state and criminal violence, resistance struggles and Indigenous movements, and the varied and complex reality of drug cartels and street gangs. The course will touch on themes of transparency, impunity, and corruption in the democratic, post-war present and also focus on the emergence of and challenges to attempts to hold the post-dictatorial governments to account.
This course invites students to study Teotihuacan, Mexico, the largest urban development of American antiquity. It considers this city's art history and archaeology over six weeks, to culminate in a 1-week fieldtrip to view the city's ruins, if possible. We will then examine those major pre-Hispanic polities with which Teotihuacan interacted, including Tikal, Guatemala, or upon which it exerted historical influence, such as Tenochtitlan, Mexico City. The final two weeks will consider comparative settlement and architectural data from the Mississippian, Puebloan, and Inka cultures of Indigenous North and South America.
The forests of the tropics, especially of Latin America, are the areas of the world that gain the most attention from the land change science community. This class will examine the global-level forces that lead to changes in land-use and land-cover in Latin America's forested landscapes. Using images obtained of swidden landscapes, we will examine how changes in Latin America's forest cover are used to perpetuate the myth that the region's poor are responsible for observed changes. Drone-derived data and indicators of people's perceptions of wildlife will help us examine the drivers of change in the region.
This course explores transnational and diasporic formations of race in the Americas. Drawing on Ethnic Studies, Latin American Studies, and anthropological and historical approaches, we explore racial formations in Latin America and its transnational communities. A central goal for this course is to understand race and racial formations as culturally contextualized and situated within the politics of difference. How are U.S. racial-ethnic categories embraced, contested, or reconfigured across the Americas, and vice versa? Topics include multiculturalism, mestizaje, border thinking, transnationalism, and racial democracy among others.
This course grapples with changing understandings of race in Latin America from the early 19th century to the present, and explores the persistent tension between nation-building projects and the region's remarkable human diversity. Latin America's history, like that of the US, has been profoundly shaped by the violent legacies of conquest and slavery. Yet the categories through which Latin Americans imagine racial difference have tended to shift over time and with them, the forms taken by racism and discrimination. We will set these evolving concepts in their historical context, the better to understand their concrete and enduring effects.
Amazonia is a vital nexus for planetary survival. This course focuses on the world's largest tropical forest and the ancestral home of over one million indigenous peoples, now threatened by deforestation and megafires. Further degradation will have disastrous consequences for its peoples, biodiversity, rainfall and agriculture, and global climate change. Combining perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, we will critically examine projects to colonize, develop, and conserve the Amazon over time and reflect on the agency of indigenous peoples, maroon and riverbank communities and their creative modes of existence.
The seminar will draw on Anibal Quijano's work to explore three major themes: the intertwined notions of race and gender in Latin America; the understanding of gender and patriarchy in the work of contemporary decolonial feminist theory; and the oppressive intersectional inequalities introduced by the Conquest and colonization that continue to shape our world. Although Quijano's scholarship tends to be read in a disjointed and disconnected way, this course will take a more unified approach. This seminar will be taught by PLAS fellow Rita Segato, an internationally acclaimed anthropologist and feminist thinker.
Cross-Listed Spring 2022 Courses
Note: Listed in order of LAS course numbers.
An introduction to Latin American cultures and artistic and literary traditions through a wide spectrum of materials. We will discuss relevant issues in Latin American cultural, political, and social history, including the legacy of colonialism and indigenous resistance, the African diaspora, national fictions, popular and mass culture, gender and racial politics. Materials: essays by Ángel Rama, short stories by Julio Cortázar and Samanta Schweblin, poems by Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén and period Cuban son music; paintings by Mexican muralists, films by Patricio Guzmán and Jayro Bustamante, writings by indigenous activist Ailton Krenak.
The course focuses on the social forces that shape design thinking. Its objective is to introduce architectural and urban design issues to build design and critical thinking skills from a multidisciplinary perspective. The studio is team-taught from faculty across disciplines to expose students to the multiple forces within which design operates.
Flotsam. Jetsam. Hunger. Nudity. Lone survivors washed ashore. What can tales of shipwreck tell us about the cultures, societies and technologies that produce them? We read narratives and watch films of disaster and survival from the sixteenth century to the present, with an eye to how these texts can challenge or reinforce the myths that empires and nation-states tell about themselves and others.
This course explores the visual and archaeological world of ancient Mesoamerica, from the first arrival of humans in the area until the era of Spanish invasion in the early 16th century. Major culture groups to be considered include Olmec, Maya, and Aztec. Preceptorial sections will consist of a mix of theoretically-focused discussions, debate regarding opposing interpretations in scholarship, and hands-on work with objects from the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum.
This seminar addresses the field of "indigenous art" to unsettle current understandings of self and alter representation. Focusing on South America and drawing parallels with the Americas and Oceania, it investigates studies of material and immaterial culture from the perspective of indigenous world-makings. Attention will be paid to how indigenous arts speak to the dilemmas of self-governance, biocultural diversity, and conservation. We will also address forms of decolonization of Amerindian arts that are at play in museums, festivals, and environmental storytelling, with indigenous artists and intellectuals as their protagonists.
An introduction to the history of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and its repercussion in literature, art, architecture and music. In addition to discussing the major Revolutionaries, including Madero, Zapata, Villa, we will study figures who sough to create a cultural revolution in the arts: Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, Diego Rivera, Mariano Azuela, among others.
Global capitalism has often imagined Latin America as a collection of "raw" commodities ready to be extracted. In this class, we explore this way of conceiving the region through its cultural production. Throughout the semester, we will engage with various "exemplary" commodities, including bananas, rubber, and sugar. We will look at their representations in literature, art, movies, and economic texts, but also at how commodities themselves -as material objects with a history- have shaped aesthetical forms. This approach will serve as an entry point for understanding inequality, neocolonialism, patriarchy, and climate change in the region
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.
Tropical Biology 338 is an intensive three-week field course based in lowland rainforest in Panama. The origins, maintenance, and major interactions of terrestrial biota in tropical rainforests will be examined. The course will involve travel to three different field sites, field journaling, and completion of independent field based research projects.
'Revolution knows no compromise,' Malcolm X said in a 1963 speech. 'You haven't got a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed.' This course investigates the concepts of revolution and counterrevolution by centering the race question. We will explore the strategies that liberation movements used to achieve revolution and conversely, how imperial states aimed to subvert these movements through counterrevolutionary warfare. Our class will highlight Black, Indigenous, and Third World liberation struggles, and we will look at cases in Haiti, the U.S., Russia, Algeria, Cuba, and Iran.
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.
The course deals with philosophy as practiced in Latin America from the Spanish Conquest until the contemporary period. Unifying themes are race, identity, and the relationship between European influences and the specific circumstances of Latin America. We will explore these themes by examining the following topics among others: the use of Aristotelian ideas in debates about the appropriate treatment of the indigenous populations of the Americas; and ways in which Latin American thinkers employed ideas of the French enlightenment, Comte's positivism and Marxist concepts to articulate programs for political and cultural change.
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.
This seminar relates Caribbean music to historical and contemporary migratory issues. It examines questions of listening, memory, joy, diaspora, and the Anthropocene through genres like: son, bolero, calypso, salsa, reggae, merengue, bomba, and reggaeton. Attention to gender, sexual and racial inequities in portrayals of migrant cultures as symbolic of multiculturalism, while migrants are stigmatized as risks to security. Seminar speaks to current global context of displacement with focus on climate change's impact on the Caribbean. We study music, sound, performance, literary, ethnographic and historical texts, visual arts, and journalism.
Do plants think? Do forests have a language? Are our bodies separate from the environment? Are we substantially different from what we once called "nature"? Such questions have been emerging in philosophy and literature, bringing to light new forms of knowledge that are both integrative and holistic. This seminar will discuss the visual arts, literature and musical experiments produced by thinkers (Indigenous or otherwise) who can help us imagine a planet where, differently from our current world, we may still be able to survive.
This course covers major recent developments in political economy of development with special focus on political institutions and governance. The course will be structured in three parts. The first part will cover broad macro political economy issues (e.g. institutions and institutional change). The second part will focus on micro issues (e.g. property rights, clientelism, state capture and decentralization). The final part will draw mostly from the experimental literature and discuss institutional reforms that aim at improving democratic governance.
This course explores questions and practices of liberation in writings by women philosophers and poets whose work helped to create cultural and political movements in the U.S. and Latin America. Starting in the 60s, we will study a poetics and politics of liberation, paying special attention to the role played by language and imagination when ideas translate onto social movements related to social justice, structural violence, education, care, and the commons. Readings include Gloria Anzaldúa, Angela Davis, Silvia Federici, Diamela Eltit, Audre Lorde, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Gayatri Spivak, Zapatistas, among others.
The course examines Marx's critique of capitalist slavery and its refiguration in Caribbean critique. We discuss the writings of Toussaint Louverture, Henry Christophe, C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, Aimé Césaire, and Suzanne Césaire - key figures of the `Black Jacobin' tradition - as they develop original critiques of slavery, colonialism, and Antillean capitalism, these being understood as what Marx called the `social forms' (gesellschaftliche Formen) of labour and wealth.
An overview of the major works that emerged after the Cuban Revolution and of the debates about the relationship between culture and politics. The focus on the seminar is on the interrelation between architecture, film, and literature. What was the architecture of the Cuban Revolution? How was it portrayed in films and novels? How did debates about politically-engaged art and social realism enter into the field of architecture? Special focus in the Art Schools (ISA), Housing Complexes, and Architectural Pavilions erected in the 1960s.
This course introduces students to important texts from the immense body of scholarship on slavery, anti-slavery movements, and post-emancipation culture in the Iberian Atlantic world, focusing primarily on the "slave societies"of 19th-century Cuba and Brazil and their connections to the greater Caribbean. Grounded in historiography, the course includes literature, court documents, visual culture, studies of post-emancipation movements, theories from the black radical tradition, and films about Latin American slavery. Sub-topics include insurrections, autobiography, religion, the role of translators, conucos/provision grounds, fashion.
This was by far the best led class I have taken at Princeton; the format of us filling out worksheets ahead of time so that you already knew our initial thoughts allowed discussions to be rich and fulfilling. The mix of theoretical discussion with practical research was really enjoyable and I feel like I am walking away from the class both with something concrete and a new frame of mind around thinking about conflict. It was clear throughout the class that you are truly an expert in the field and I am grateful to have had the chance to take this class with you. -Franklin Maloney ‘20 regarding: LAS 376: The Economic Analysis of Conflict taught by Ana María Ibáñez (PLAS Visiting Research Scholar and Visiting Professor - Fall 2018)