Public Life in Modern Latin America


How do Latin Americans navigate their ways, collectively and also individually, through their hierarchical social orders?  Why is there so much stability and order to their societies?  Surveys inform us that Latin Americans are among the happiest people in the world.  Why might this be?  Why do so many Latin Americans across time appear to be so proud of their nations?  Why do they look at one another so often?  Why is there so little hatred in Latin America?  Why do poor people in Latin America seem to know more about rich people than rich people know about them?  Why do traditions matter so?  Why are there so many good novelists there?  These and other questions, answerable or not, about life and the human condition in Latin America are what will be about in this course.  

Probable texts:  Ernesto Che Guevera, The Motorcycle Diaries

Carlos Fuentes, The Campaign, On-line used copy

John Charles Chasteen, Heroes on Horseback:  The Life and Times of the Last Gaucho Caudillos

Carlos Fuentes, The Good Conscience

Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies

Philippe Bourgois, In Search of Retrospect:  Selling Crack in the Barrio

David Goldstein, The Spectacular City:  Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia

Stan Lazar, El Alto, Rebel City:  Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia

Alma Guillermoprieto, Samba

Forrest Colburn, Latin America and the End of Politics

Grading:  The journal, submitted as a work in progress during any day between November 1 and November 7, worth 30% of the grade, written continuously on Word, and sent as an email attachment.  A twenty page final essay on historical patterns in Latin America, worth 40% of the grade.  This final essay will emerge organically from the journal.  Hard copy.  Class participation, according to a structured format, worth 30% of the grade. 

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
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Charlottesville, VA 22904


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