Courses

Spring 2019 Latin American Studies Courses

Spring 2019

Latin American Soundscapes: Music, Noise, and Technology
The course offers an introduction to sound-making and listening across Latin America. It pays attention to music, noise, urban space, and technology. Students are expected to conduct ethnographic research and to carry out field recordings in the New Jersey area. The course draws on anthropological, sociological, and historical accounts to explore the relationship between music and national symbols in Jamaica and Brazil; the tension between orality and literacy in local forms of speech; and the role of infrastructure, architecture, rituals (such as carnaval), and visual representations in the creation of urban soundscapes.
Instructors: Leonardo Cardoso
Brazil-Africa: Critical Perspectives on South-South Networks
This course explores the Brazil-Africa nexus in history and today. It combines perspectives from the social sciences, the humanities and the arts, and focuses on dynamics of exchange, domination and resistance. We will critically examine the place of Brazil and Africa in European imperialism and assess the impact of the South Atlantic slave trade. We will also consider decolonization struggles and solidarities. The course ends with a critique of Brazil's recent venture into the global stage and a reflection on China as an increasingly powerful, potential geopolitical partner for both Brazil and Africa.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Mexico City: Geography, Politics and Everyday Life
This course explores the geography of Mexico City, one of the world's largest and most dynamic urban communities. We will examine such topics as the city's rapid expansion during the twentieth century, its architectural and aesthetic styles and transformations, its environments and environmental crises, and the shape of its contemporary political geographies. The course will also involve a field study component in Mexico City during spring recess, with a special focus on social and spatial aspects of urban redevelopment and neighborhood change.
Instructors: Ben Alan Gerlofs
Locked Up in the Americas: A History of Prisons and Detainment
This course explores the history of incarceration, detention centers, and internment camps in the Americas from the 1800s to the present. It addresses a range of issues, including political suppression, inmate labor, immigration, and the architectures of confinement, to show how penal colonies, convict transport, exile, and international policing have been evolving endeavors of state and social control since independence. We will look at a series of case studies, from detainment on the US-Mexico border and a panopticon in Cuba to the famed escapes at Devil's Island and the Chilean penal island that inspired the story of Robinson Crusoe.
Instructors: Ryan C. Edwards

Courses are listed by catalogue number

Cross-Listed Courses

Spring 2019

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
Of Shipwreck and Other Disasters
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.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Mesoamerican Art
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 in the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
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
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
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
Contemporary Latin America in Literature and Visual Arts
This course is an introduction to contemporary Latin American and Caribbean literature and visual arts. Placing special emphasis on the changing relationships between aesthetics and politics, it analyzes different genres and artistic styles that emerge with new forms of imagining the relations between culture and politics, from the 1960s to the present.
Instructors: Susana Draper
Topics in Anthropology: AIDS Across the Americas
As we approach the end of the fourth decade of HIV/AIDS, developments in treatment and prevention are transforming what we know about the epidemic. And while the lives of those living with HIV have improved, the ability to access treatment continues to be shaped by gender, sexuality, race, and class. It appears as though studying the epidemic is not just a question of new technologies or resources, but also the conceptual frameworks we use to understand it. Drawing on transnational and intersectional approaches to peoples and communities across the Americas, this course proposes a hemispheric framework for the cultural analysis of AIDS.
Instructors: Justin Dieter Andres Perez
Dark Matters
This seminar explores darkening technologies in contemporary Latin America as the main tools of a new poetics that strongly challenges vision and its alleged ability to "clearly" generate knowledge. We will explore a variety of artifacts that discard the eyes in favor of experiences of blindness, obscured vision, and tactile sensation that interrogate the visual imperative. I propose that opacity, darkness, and blindness are poetic mechanisms that can stand up to the authoritarian regime of vision and question the insidious ways in which light suffuses peripheral knowledge, politics, and bodies.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Museum as Laboratory: Experimental Art Practices in Latin America and Beyond
Museums have long disciplined conducts and framed ways of seeing through the production and reproduction of dominant values. But can they also act as instruments of transformation, even emancipation? This course investigates the museum and the exhibition as sites of experimentation within the overlapping spheres of art, society, and technology, with particular focus on their implications and enactment in Latin America. Key components will be hands-on work with the collections of Latin American art in the Princeton University Art Museum and Marquand and Firestone Libraries, as well as visits to museums and artist's studios in New York.
Instructors: Cristina Freire, Irene Violet Small
Seminar in Colonial Spanish American Literature: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Conquest of America
In studying colonial texts we inevitably bring into play our own particular historical consciousness, that is, our myths, prejudices, categories, understandings of objectivity and subjectivity, and a sense of being correct with respect to the beliefs of previous generations. We read primary sources in conjunction with texts informed by various theoretical strands in order to explore how Conquest was performed, questioned, resisted and understood and how we (who is this "we"?) understand them today.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THEORY - MINORITARIAN AESTHETICS: THEORY, ART, AND LITERATURE
This seminar utilizes our museum's holdings to complement theoretical and literary texts that speak to the problem and promise of difference in our moment. We consider how political and historical crises can heighten attention to the aesthetic by revisiting thinkers like Benjamin and Adorno. Moving from the proletariat of the Frankfurt school, we encounter theories by contemporary scholars such as Sianne Ngai and Fred Moten that focus on the minor/minority/minoritarian as a contemporary correlate--looking to how difference has been managed and how aesthetics may push the bounds of such domestications of difference.
Instructors: Christina A. Leon

Courses of Interest

THE POLITICS OF DEVELOPMENT
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.
Instructors: Atul Kohli
WOMEN AND LIBERATION: FEMINIST POETICS AND POLITICS IN THE AMERICAS (1960S TO THE PRESENT)
This course aims to explore different forms that the question of liberation has taken 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 1960s, the course touches upon different philosophical concepts and poetic figures that have shaped the language of women's struggles (intersectionality, black and third world feminism, subalternity and feminist epistemologies, capitalist accumulation and "witch"-hunting, (re)transmission of knowledge).
Instructors: Susana Draper