Spring 2024 Courses
The 1960s was a decade of dramatic changes around the world, and Latin America was not an exception. In January 1959, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and made a significant impact on the island, the Western Hemisphere, and the on-going Cold War. Guerrillas and other types of social movements developed; the United States launched an aggressive crusade against Cuba and other efforts at social change in the region; and new intellectual, literary, and artistic trends. This seminar will review key episodes, processes, and actors during that turbulent decade, from 1959 through the 1973 coup against socialist President Salvador Allende in Chile.
The poetries of Latin American nations and the United States, like the histories of the American hemisphere, are in many ways intertwined and wrapped up in the legacies and continuities of imperialism and displacement. This course offers an exploration of the ways in which Latin American and U.S. literatures intersect, especially at pivotal moments of hemispheric political history: (1) the "Good Neighbor" era, (2) inter-American Cold War, (3) US military invasions, (4) second-wave neoliberalism, (5) present day. We pay particular attention to Latin American and Latinx writers, cultivating a South-to-North comparative approach.
This course examines current issues on health in Latin America, with a special focus on health policy. The course consists of two parts: the first part explores social determinants of health, health inequities, and counter-hegemonic views of health in the region. The second part analyzes health systems and health reforms in comparative perspective, including the cases of Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Costa Rica. Based on these cases we assess advantages, shortcomings, and problems of implementation of health systems based on (1) social insurance, (2) national health service, or (3) market-driven factors.
The production and distribution of narcotics is one of the world's largest industries, and has been a quintessential example of the globalized economy since at least the 19th century. This course follows how the Latin American drug trade works and how it is understood, both conceptually and spatially, from source to user. Therefore, the course addresses areas of drug production; the dynamics and experiences of drug trafficking, including the origins of narcotics illegalization and state efforts to curtail the drug trade; and finally, the consumption of drugs and the practice's policing by state authorities.
Cross-Listed Spring 2024 Courses
Note: Listed in order of LAS course numbers.
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.
This course will appeal to those interested in Mexican culture and politicized art practices. It will cover major events in Mexican art from approximately 1910 to 1970, ending with the struggles around Mexico '68. Mexican modernism circulated worldwide, and cultural pilgrims rushed to Mexico to learn from their example. For them, the Mexican Revolution was just beginning, having migrated from the political to the cultural realm. Throughout this course, we will consider the relationship of art to revolution and how history works to make meaning from the past.
This course is an introduction to crime fiction from early 20th-century "locked room" mysteries to 21st-century narco-narratives. It examines short stories, novels, films and essays about detective and crime fiction in Latin America (some examples from Spain). Topics include the genre's position vis-a-vis "high" and "low" literature, connections to film, relation to contexts such as immigration, state crime, drug culture and globalization. Authors include Roberto Arlt, María Elvira Bermúdez, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, Ricardo Piglia, and Fernando Vallejo.
In Latin American literature, the opposition between civilization and barbarism has defined America since its "discovery" by Columbus. With a focus on the intersections of time, space, language and violence in seminal texts, we look at ways their authors position the Americas and their peoples in universal history. We will also consider the role of the public intellectual and writer as political figure and founder of new national movements. Authors include Columbus, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Bolívar, Sarmiento, Martí, Darío, Vallejo, Borges, Arguedas, and Vargas Llosa. We read selections of major works and one full novel by Vargas Llosa.
The world we inhabit is flooded with images. They shape our perception of the past, the present, and the future. And they also serve as a vehicle of power and resistance. But how do images actually work? Who gives them meaning(s), and why? Our course will look at these questions through the lens of the rich visual culture of the Hispanic world, from the rise of the Spanish empire through the early twentieth century. From Velázquez's Las Meninas to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Tepeyac, we will learn how to place pivotal images in their historical contexts, discussing them as both witnesses, and agents, of social change and artistic innovation.
This course will analyze the role of cinema in the construction (and deconstruction) of national and transnational identities and discourses in the Portuguese-speaking world. We will examine recurring cultural topics in a wide variety of films from Brazil, Portugal, and Lusophone Africa and Asia, situating works within their socio-historical contexts and tracing the development of national cinemas and their interaction with global aesthetics and trends. Through these cinematographic productions we will illuminate complex relationships between Portuguese-speaking societies and analyze significant cross-cultural differences and similarities.
What is a document? How does it record and represent the real? This course studies the role of documentation in modern Latin American literature, art, and film. It traces artistic and political uses of the document as a narrative trigger, an incomplete or deceiving representation of reality, and/or an aesthetic artifact. Among other materials, we will study art and documentary photography, memory art, fiction and non fiction texts, as well as photoessays and documentary film.
This course will explore the discursive construction of the Amazon rainforest and its peoples throughout history in cultural production of non-indigenous, indigenous, transcultural, and collaborative origin --from travel writing to literature, cinema, and visual arts. While engaging with different discourses on Amazonia, we will study the history and impacts of colonialism, naturalism, nation-building, extractivism, and the environmentalism of the poor from an Amazonian perspective. Finally, we will examine the role of native and collaborative cultural production in the imagination of indigenous, environmental, and climate futures.
From a relatively poor, multi-religious, and politically-fragmented land during the Middle Ages, Spain became in the early modern period one of the biggest empires in world history. This introductory course offers a historical overview of the Spanish empire, from its emergence in the late fifteenth century to its eventual dissolution in the nineteenth century. We will examine the nature of Spanish imperial rule, the societies and cultures that were forged in the process, and the asymmetric connections that it facilitated between Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
This course proposes a counter-narrative of the myths and fantasies that have been created about the Caribbean and of the historical and cultural realities surrounding them. Through a close reading of literary, artistic, critical, and historical texts we will examine race, ethnic, and gender identity constructions; the rise of the plantation economy; and the emergence of modern nations. The relationship between coloniality and the emergence of diasporic Caribbean voices of dissidence will be a guiding tone for our conversations throughout the semester as we unpack the links between colonialism and diaspora in the Caribbean.
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.
This seminar examines Black Latinidad as an epistemology; as a way of knowing that allows us to better understand the historical relationship between race, colonialism and diaspora. Through the analysis of cultural texts: including novels, music, film, and visual art, we will engage in a genealogical examination of Black Latinidad beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century and through the present. Expanding the conceptual, geographical and temporal limitations that continue to produce Latinx Studies as a contemporary, U.S. based field of knowledge, our course will engage a historical approach to Latinx thought that centers blackness.
For the first time, most people now live in cities. One in seven humans lives in an urban slum. We analyze the political, economic, and social dynamics that both create and arise from urbanization, informality, and attempts to govern our contemporary urban world. We ask how formal and informal institutions change inequalities of shelter, work, race, and other social identities, across urban space. We investigate the links between the processes of urbanization and climate change, and how they shape the politics of cities. We draw from cases across the globe and the US, along with a range of social science methods and theoretical perspectives.
This course will focus on the state's role in promoting economic growth and distribution in the developing world. The core organizing question for the course is: why have some regions of the developing world been more successful at industrialization and/or poverty alleviation than other regions. The students will learn about the patterns of development in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with special attention to such countries as China, India, South Korea, Nigeria and Brazil. General challenges that face all developing countries - globalization, establishing democracy and ethnic fragmentation - will also be analyzed.
The readings and discussions will consider how the literature and arts of Haiti affirm, contest, and bear witness to historical narratives concerning the world's first black republic. The course will sample an array of historical accounts, novels, Afro-Caribbean religion (Vodun), plays, music, film, and visual arts of this unique postcolonial nation.
This course is designed to introduce cutting-edge research on the political and economic development of Latin America. It first takes a historical perspective and studies the path from colonialism to the region's current modern states. The second part focuses on the current issues faced by the region's young democracies - such as unequal influence, limited representation, corruption, inequality, and violence. Methodologically, the course focuses on quantitative work, analyzing the ways in which data can be leveraged to provide evidence to evaluate social science arguments.
This course explores the cultural productions surrounding narcos and cocaine in Colombia and Mexico, two countries whose imaginaries have become globally associated with drug trafficking. Beginning with the transformation of the coca leave into an illegal global commodity, passing through the emergence of the figure of the "sicario" in the 1980s, all the way to Netflix's 'Narcos' vision of the War on Drugs and cryptococaine, the course will engage critically with so-called narco-aesthetics in chronicles, movies, television series, short stories, podcasts, and art
This course explores how Latina sexualities and sexual economies are integrated with U.S. development and expansion of capital in Latin American countries. We trace the history of capitalism and its reliance on the construction of racialized, gendered, and sexualized subjects. We will explore how, similar to Asian and Black women, Latina's sexualities are integral to the accumulation of wealth in the United States. We focus on the sex trades, such as sex tourism in Cuba, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, the booming online sex work industries in Colombia, and independent pornography industries like OnlyFans in the U.S.
The focus of this course is on learning how to read, transcribe, translate, and interpret by-and-large handwritten documents that concern the Spanish Crown's conquest, presence, and aspirations in the Spanish Transpacific, mainly in the Philippines from 1521 to about 1800. Most of the manuscripts we will examine were produced by European colonizers, missionaries, and their allies, but even many of those cases we will learn to detect the voices of the subjected and colonized.
This course considers the intersecting roles of gender and power, labor and knowledge, sacrifice and sustenance in the conception of Nahua femininity. Students who complete this course will gain familiarity with the culture of Nahuatl-speaking people of central Mexico and the representation of Nahua women. Special attention will be given to the changing perception of Aztec goddesses under colonialism and their Chicanx reclamation, as well as to historical figures such as Malinche, the "tongue" of Hernán Cortés, and Doña Luz Jiménez, muse to the Mexican Muralists following the Revolution.
This course explores women's lives and writing in Colonial Mexico. Primary readings include examples from relaciones, historias, diarios, and cartas. Topics include insurgency; marriage; indigeneity and maternity; Black authorship; convent life; translation; swindling; monstrosity. We read primary and secondary texts by Cortés, Franco, Martínez, Robles, Sahagún, Seed, and Tortorici.
We are so lucky to have such diverse offerings and focus on incredibly important topics such as migration, the creation of borders, political organizations aiming to represent the poor and marginalized, and the state of justice in countries that have suffered from repression such as military dictatorships. -Elise Kratzer '24
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)