Colloquium in Latin American History
This colloquium introduces students to the growing literature in both environmental history and the environmental history of Latin America. Topics that include: the environments of the pre-Columbian Americas; the ecological impact of the European conquest of the Americas; the “Columbian exchange” of European diseases for Latin American goods (chocolate, tomatoes, corn, potatoes etc.); sugar, coffee, and slavery in Brazil and the Caribbean; the ecology and culture of bananas and banana plantations; forests and deforestation from the Amazon to Chile’s temperate rain forests; the ecology of oil and mining (and “extractive” economies more generally); conservation and national parks; and, the emergence of modern environmentalism. Our goal throughout will be to analyze different approaches to writing environmental history and to answer a series of basic questions: What is the environment? What is the historical relationship between human societies and nature? What role has nature played in human history? What is nature? How do we write its history? What sources do environmental historians use? Students will read approximately one historical monograph or an equivalent group of articles each week and four 5-7 page essays during the course of the semester.