Spring 2020 Latin American Studies Courses

Spring 2020

Social Justice: The Latin American City
This course deals with difficult questions of how urban social justice is understood, demanded, pursued, and meted out.The UN reports that more than half of the world's population now lives in cities, a transformation especially profound in Latin America. In this course, we will critically assess both this urban terrain and the tools and theories we use to apprehend it, from `environmental racism' to the 'circuits of capital', and from the 'Pink Tide' to the 'postpolitical'.
Instructors: Ben Alan Gerlofs
From Zapata to the Cold War: Latin America's 20th Century Revolutions
In this lecture course we will analyze key 20th century Latin American revolutions within their regional and global context, focusing on the ideologies that motivated insurgents and the legacies left in the wake of national transformation. We will read broadly across the literature on Latin American revolutions, analyzing historical arguments, comparing and contrasting existing narratives, and building our own arguments about revolutionary processes. Crucially, we will consider how revolutionary dreams met with violent counterrevolution in the crucible of cold war.
Instructors: Bridgette Kathleen Werner
Immigration Debates in the United States
This seminar is a course in policy analysis and journalism writing, focusing on immigration from Latin America to the United States. We will explore the historical and social factors that have made immigration a bitterly divisive issue, as context to examine current policies of the Trump administration. Reporting and writing assignments will allow students to explore immigration realities in and around Princeton, and to practice different voices of journalism, from neutral news prose to opinion editorials to tweet blasts. We will consider the role of journalists in contributing to fact-finding in the polarized national debate.
Instructors: Julia Drury Preston
Amazonia, The Last Frontier: History, Culture, and Power
This course focuses on the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest and the ancestral home of over one million indigenous peoples, now threatened by deforestation and fires. 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 cultural wisdoms of its guardians. Students will work together to develop alternative visions to safeguard the forest for Brazil and the planet.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Towards a Material History of Latin America
This class looks beyond traditional archival approaches to explore the postconquest history of Latin America through an analysis of objects, landscapes, and the human body as "alternative archives". Beginning with the era of European invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries, we will explore the material traces of colonial and postcolonial lives and examine the ways that archaeology, environmental science, forensics, and art history can shed new light on historical actors and narratives that would otherwise remain marginalized or even invisible.
Instructors: Noa Emrys Corcoran-Tadd
Poverty, Inequality and Social Mobility in Latin America
The course will discuss research on poverty, social mobility and income inequality among persons in Latin America in the last two decades. We will look at empirical results and the theories used to explain them. While we are mainly interested in results, every section of the course will deal with the underlying theories used in different studies and their implicit or explicit policy recommendations. The course combines History, Political Economy, Economics and Sociology. Previous knowledge of statistics, economics or quantitative sociology is not necessary.
Instructors: Marcelo Medeiros

Cross-listed courses by catalogue number

Spring 2020

Interdisciplinary Design Studio
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.
Instructors: Elisa Silva
Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
This course focuses on key issues of 20th and 21st c. Latin American art. A thematic survey and general methodological introduction, we will treat emblematic works and movements, from Mexican muralism and Indigenism to experiments with abstraction, pop, conceptualism, and performance. Questions discussed include: What is Latin American art? What is modernism in Latin America? What is the legacy of colonialism? How do Latin American artists engage transnational networks of solidarity under conditions of repression? How can postcolonial, decolonial, and feminist theory illuminate the art and criticism produced in and about Latin America?
Instructors: Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Irene Violet Small
Continuity and Discontinuity in Colonial Latin America
An overview of literary and cultural production in the Americas before and after the Spanish invasion. Topics include pre-Columbian visual and verbal expressions; discovery, invention, conquest, and resistance; the historiography of the New World; native depictions of the colonial world; gender, grammar and power. We read texts in a variety of genres that were written and performed in numerous linguistic and visual codes. The Native American chronicles will include texts written in alphabetic script as well as visual representations that draw elements from pre-colonial forms of iconic script.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Borges for Beginners
This seminar grapples with the question of authorship and meaning in the literature of Jorge Luis Borges, the legendary Argentine writer whose convoluted fictions continue puzzling readers. Borges is a foundational figure. Gabriel García Márquez and Paul Auster, and philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, are all indebted to Borges. Using different perspectives, from philosophy and aesthetics to politics and cultural analysis, we will study Borges's thematic and formal obsessions: time and memory; labyrinths; reading as a form of writing; and the universality of Argentine local traditions such as tango and gaucho culture.
Instructors: Maria Gabriela Nouzeilles
Topics in Brazilian Cultural and Social History: Sound and Sense
How do emotion and movement appear in Brazilian music? While music is a form of translation and dialogue everywhere, the song in Brazil is an especially porous form, capable of daily reinvention of languages, traditions and habits, thus questioning history and politics. How are identity, sexuality, orality and writing worked out in musical genres such as samba, hip hop, rock? How is the African Diaspora cyphered in Brazilian music? How does that process differ from other diasporic communities? Is Brazilian music really Brazilian? These are some of the questions the seminar will address through listening and scholarly discussion.
Instructors: Arto Lindsay, Pedro Meira Monteiro
Becoming Latino in the U.S.
History 306 studies all Latinos in the US, from those who have (im)migrated from across Latin America to those who lived in what became US lands. The course covers the historical origins of debates over land ownership, the border, assimilation expectations, discrimination, immigration regulation, intergroup differences, civil rights activism, and labor disputes. History 306 looks transnationally at Latin America's history by exploring shifts in US public opinion and domestic policies. By the end of the course, students will have a greater understanding and appreciation of how Latinos became an identifiable group in the US.
Instructors: Rosina Amelia Lozano
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
Modern Brazilian History
This course examines the history of modern Brazil from its independence in the 1820s to the present day. The lectures, readings, and discussions chart conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society, highlighting the role played by disenfranchised social actors in shaping the country's history. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous populations; uneven economic development as well as Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.
Instructors: Isadora Moura Mota
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 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.
Instructors: Janeene Marie Touchton
Drag Kings: An Archeology of Spectacular Masculinities in Latinx America
The figure of the drag king has been practically absent from Latinx American critical analysis. Taking what we call "spectacular masculinity" as our starting point, a hyperbolic masculinity that without warning usurps the space of privilege granted to the masculinity of men, this course revises the staging of spectacular masculinities as a possibility of generating a crisis in heterosexism. We will highlight notable antecedents of the contemporary DK show, and study the hegemonic masculinity and its exceptional models through a critical technology that turns up the volume on its dramatization and its prosthetic/cosmetic conditions.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Workshop on Contemporary Cuban Arts
Havana is famous for its thriving cultural scene. This course will offer an introduction to some of the most dynamic contemporary works in theater, film, dance, performance, visual arts, and literature. Students will attend performances and meet theater and film directors, artists and poets. Each student will conduct an independent research project working closely with one of these authors.
Instructors: Rubén Gallo
Havana: A Cultural History
This course will offer a cultural history of how Havana evolved from a sleepy colonial city in 1900 to rising as one of the cultural and architectural capitals of Latin America and the world by the 1950s. We will study the urban development of the early 20th century, the adoption of modernism and International Style in architecture, and the tensions between private enterprise and public projects.
Instructors: Rubén Gallo
Puerto Ricans Under U.S. Empire: Memory, Diaspora, and Resistance
This seminar examines the ethical and historical dimensions of the 2019 Summer Puerto Rican Protests. Developing within an ongoing financial catastrophe and the trauma of Hurricane María, most issues raised today are deeply rooted in the history of U.S. imperial domination since 1898. The course aims to rethink questions of second-class citizenship, colonial capitalism, militarization, ecocide and massive migrations, as well as gender, sexual and racial inequalities. Special focus on how musical, artistic, religious, political, and literary traditions shape memory and resistance in Puerto Rico and in its vast diasporic communities.
Instructors: Cesar Colon-Montijo, Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones
Borderlands, Border Lives
The international border looms large over current national and international political debates. While this course will consider borders across the world, it will focus on the U.S.-Mexico border, and then on the Guatemala-Mexico and U.S.-Canada border. This course examines the history of the formation of the U.S. border from the colonial period to the present. Borders represent much more than just political boundaries between nation states. The borderlands represents the people who live between two cultures and two nations. This course will also study those individuals who have lived in areas surrounding borders or crossed them.
Instructors: Rosina Amelia Lozano
Colonial Latin America to 1810
Covers the history, historiography and theory of Latin America's early modernity. Readings offer a vehicle to discuss questions such as why some types of historical questions seem more urgent than others at different times and what are the origins and meanings of historiographical shifts over the evolution of the field. To explore such questions and find out what problems of past historiographical traditions remain unsolved and deserve a new look, both classic texts and more recent works that display new approaches are read, often in counterpoint. Students of early modernity, colonial empires and world history will profit from the course.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani

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)