Introduction to Latin American Studies

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Fall 1. 2021

Course Title: “Introduction to Latin American Studies”
Duration: 12 Weeks
Course: Fall 1 and 2 of 2021
Dates: Sept 3-Dec 10, 2021 (with break Oct 9-24)
Time: Fridays 3:00pm-4:45pm

Course Description:
Latin American Studies critically analyzes the conceptual boundaries of what Latin America is, who Latin America represents, and how this all came to be. A multi-disciplinary field, Latin American Studies combines international relations, policy and law, cultural studies, history, and literary studies. This course will outline many of the theoretical currents of Latin American Studies as a discipline. We will begin by asking the question “What is Latin America?” which is to say, “how did Latin America become Latin America?” We will then piece together the discipline, including approaches in LAS to visual and literary arts, sexuality and gender, colonialism and history, and finally end with contemporary field approaches.

Suggested purchase:

  • The Companion to Latin American Studies (2003), ed. by Philip Swanson
  • New Approaches to Latin American Studies: Culture and Power (2018), ed. by Juan Poblete


(readings are meant to be done before the class during which they will be discussed)

Sept 3 – What is Latin American Studies (LAS)?: Disciplinary Introduction, History, and Concerns

Sept 10 – The Colonial Era: Contact to 1800 

Sept 17– The Caudillo Era: 1800-1900 

Sept 24 – Nationalism and the Afterlives of Colonial Violence

Oct 1 – LAS Approaches to the Caribbean

Oct 8 – LAS Approaches to Literary and Visual Arts 

Fall Break: October 9-24

Oct 29 – Race & Indigeneity in LAS


  • “Intimacy and Empire: Indian-African Interaction in Spanish Colonial New Mexico, 1500-1800.(Indian-Black Relations in Historical and Anthropological Perspective” by Dedra S. McDonald. The American Indian Quarterly 22, no. 1-2 (January 1, 1998): 143–156.
  • “A Non‐essentialist Theory of Race: The Case of an Afro‐indigenous Village in Northern Peru” by Tamara Hale. Social Anthropology 23, no. 2 (May 2015): 135–151.
  • “Who Is Black, White, or Mixed Race? How Skin Color, Status, and Nation Shape Racial Classification in Latin America” by Edward Telles and Tianna Paschel. American Journal of Sociology 120, no. 3 (November 1, 2014): 864–907.
  • “Race, culture, and history: Charles Wagley and the anthropology of the African Diaspora in the Americas” by Fred Hay. Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências humanas, 2014-12, Vol.9 (3), p.695-705.

Nov 12 – Afro-Diasporic Religions in the Caribbean 


  • “Of Ghosts and Shadows” and “There is no E in Zombi, Which Means There Can Be No You or We” from Ayiti (2011) by Roxane Gay
  • Introduction & Ch. 1 of Queering Black Atlantic Religions (2019) by Roberto Strongman
  • “On the Materiality of Black Atlantic Rituals” in Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic (2014), ed. by Akinwumi Ogundiran, and Paula Saunders
  • “Ritual Life of an Altar-Home A Photographic Essay on Transformational Places and Technologies” by Raquel Romberg. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, vol. 13, no. 2, (Summer 2018)
  • “‘Maricón,’ ‘Pájaro,’ and ‘Loca’: Cuban and Puerto Rican Linguistic Practices, and Sexual Minority Participation, in U.S. Santería” by Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 58 (2011)

Nov 19– U.S. Imperialism and Hegemony in Latin America 


  • “Inverse Coloniality” from Imperialism and theWiderAtlantic: Essays on theAesthetics, Literature, and Politics of Transatlantic Cultures (2017), ed. Tania Gentic, and Francisco LaRubia-Prado
  • Passages from The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought, Joshua Simon
  • “Denaturalizing the Monroe Doctrine: The rise of Latin American legal anti-imperialism in the face of the modern US and hemispheric redefinition of the Monroe Doctrine” (2020) by Juan Pablo Scarf
  • “The Negative Effects of U.S. Imperialism in Central America” by Michael Hendricks

Dec 3 – The Subaltern: Hegemony, Cultural Studies, and Decoloniality


  • “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality” by Aníbal Quijano
  • “Can the Subaltern Speak? (abridged)” by Gayatri Spivak
  • “Moving from Subalternity: Indigenous Women in Guatemala and Mexico” by Jean Franco
  • “The Roads to the Future: Rewesternization, Dewesternization, and Decoloniality” by Walter Mignolo

Dec 10 – LAS Approaches: Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


  • “Turning to Feminisms” by Sonia E. Alvarez and Claudia de Lima Costa in New Approaches to Latin American Studies: Culture and Power
  • “The Gender and Sexuality Turn” by Robert McKee Irwin and Mónica Szurmuk in New Approaches to Latin American Studies: Culture and Power
  • “The Subalternist Turn” by Gareth Williams in New Approaches to Latin American Studies: Culture and Power

Dec 17 – LAS Approaches: Affect and Post-Hegemony 


  • “Racializing Affect” by Ulla D. Berg and Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas
  • “Civil Society, Consumption, and Governmentality in an Age of Global Restructuring” An Introduction by George Yúdice (Professor at UM)
  • The Affect Turn and Post-Hegemony chapters from the New Approaches in Latin American Studies: Culture and Power anthology (2018)
  • “Affect, Bodies, and Circulations in Contemporary Latin American Film” by Vinodh Venkatesh and María del Carmen Caña Jiménez

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