Introductory Seminar in Latin American History
This seminar will introduce students to the history of the conquest of the Americas. The assigned texts will cover different historical interpretations of the conquest of what is today Latin America. In addition, the class will examine the different approaches historians take to writing history. We will ask how historians choose and interpret evidence, explain causality, and build narratives. We will also read some primary sources, first-hand narratives of the conquest of the Americas. We will be concerned throughout the semester with a few basic questions: what sources are available to historians who want to write the history of the conquest? What are the limitations and possibilities of these sources? How can historians gain access to the experiences, voices and perspectives of people who left little trace, Africans, indigenous peoples, and women, for example? What were the causes of the Spanish conquest? Why did the Spanish conquer the Americas and why did Americas not conquer Spain? When did the conquest begin? When did it end? Did it end? Was the conquest a conquest? What was the impact of the conquest on indigenous society and the environment in the Americas? Who were the Spaniards? Who were the “Indians?” What were their worlds like?