2019-20 Courses

Spring 2020

Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
This course focuses on key issues of 20th and 21st c. Latin American art. A thematic survey and general methodological introduction, we will treat emblematic works and movements, from Mexican muralism and Indigenism to experiments with abstraction, pop, conceptualism, and performance. Questions discussed include: What is Latin American art? What is modernism in Latin America? What is the legacy of colonialism? How do Latin American artists engage transnational networks of solidarity under conditions of repression? How can postcolonial, decolonial, and feminist theory illuminate the art and criticism produced in and about Latin America?
Instructors: Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Irene Violet Small
Environmental Justice Through Literature and Film
How can literature and film bring to life ideals of environmental justice and the lived experience of environmental injustice? This seminar will explore how diverse communities across the globe are unequally exposed to risks like climate change and toxicity and how communities have unequal access to the resources vital to sustaining life. Issues we will address include: climate justice, the Anthropocene, water security, deforestation, the commons, indigenous movements, the environmentalism of the poor, the gendered and racial dimensions of environmental justice, and the imaginative role of film makers and writer-activists.
Instructors: Robert Nixon
Modern Brazilian History
This course examines the history of modern Brazil from its independence in the 1820s to the present day. The lectures, readings, and discussions chart conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society, highlighting the role played by disenfranchised social actors in shaping the country's history. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous populations; uneven economic development as well as Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.
Instructors: Isadora Moura Mota
History of the American West
This course examines the history of the place we now call the American West, from pre-contact to the present. Our primary focus will be on the struggles between and among peoples to control resources and political power, and to shape the ways in which western history is told. We will pay particular attention to the role of visual and popular culture in shaping the national imagination of the region.
Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss
Readings in Western American History
This readings course focuses on the central problems engaged by recent scholarship on the American West, with particular attention given to how this regional history intersects with the larger thematic concerns of national history. Readings address topics ranging from the 16th to 21st centuries, including environmental history, Native American history, race, gender, urban history, and popular culture.
Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss
Amazonia, The Last Frontier: History, Culture, and Power
This course focuses on the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest and the ancestral home of over one million indigenous peoples, now threatened by deforestation and fires. Further degradation will have disastrous consequences for its peoples, biodiversity, rainfall and agriculture, and global climate change. Combining perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, we will critically examine projects to colonize, develop, and conserve the Amazon over time and reflect on the cultural wisdoms of its guardians. Students will work together to develop alternative visions to safeguard the forest for Brazil and the planet.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Towards a Material History of Latin America
This class looks beyond traditional archival approaches to explore the postconquest history of Latin America through an analysis of objects, landscapes, and the human body as "alternative archives". Beginning with the era of European invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries, we will explore the material traces of colonial and postcolonial lives and examine the ways that archaeology, environmental science, forensics, and art history can shed new light on historical actors and narratives that would otherwise remain marginalized or even invisible.
Instructors: Noa Emrys Corcoran-Tadd
Spanish for a Medical Caravan in Ecuador
SPA 204 is an advanced Spanish course focusing on health and medical topics. Its main purpose is to put students in contact with the health care situation in the indigenous communities of Ecuador. During the first six weeks of the semester, students will learn about those topics and will get ready for a medical caravan that will take place during spring break. The last six weeks will be dedicated to research and reflection.
Instructors: Paloma Moscardó-Vallés
Indigenismo Literature: Mexico and the Andes in the XX Century
No description available
Instructors: Susana Draper

Fall 2019

Native American and Indigenous Studies: An Introduction
This course will introduce students to the comparative study of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. We will take a broad hemispheric approach instead of focusing solely on the experiences of any particular native community, allowing students to both acquaint themselves with the diversity of indigenous communities and better understand the multitude of indigenous experiences--or, what it means to be indigenous--across regional contexts. How do processes of imperial expansionism and settler colonialisms shape the conditions within which indigenous Americans now live? How do native peoples relate to settler colonial governing bodies today?
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle Cain
Maya Painting
Painting was the ancient Maya expressive mode par excellence. Whether depicting mythology, history, or hieroglyphic writing, painting was for more private acts of visual consumption than architecture or sculpture. This seminar invites students into this private realm of ancient Maya scribes, nobility, and royal patronage. The course explores the 1500-year history of Maya painting, including murals, ceramics and books. We will consider techniques of production, iconography, aesthetics, and social context. Students will gain basic literacy in Maya writing and training in Maya astronomy.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
Colonial Latin America to 1810
What is colonization? How does it work? What kind of societies does it create? Come find out through the lens of the Latin America. First we study how the Aztec and Inca empires subdued other peoples, and how Muslim Iberia fell to the Christians. Then, we learn about Spanish and Portuguese conquests and how indigenous resistance, adaptation, and racial mixing shaped the continent. You will see gods clash and meld, cities rise and decline, and insurrections fail or win. Silver mines will boom and bust, slaves will toil and rebel; peasants will fight capitalist encroachments. This is a comprehensive view of how Latin America became what it is.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani
Readings in Western American History
This readings course focuses on the central problems engaged by recent scholarship on the American West, with particular attention given to how this regional history intersects with the larger thematic concerns of national history. Readings address topics ranging from the 16th to 21st centuries, including environmental history, Native American history, race, gender, urban history, and popular culture.
Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss
Archaeology of South America
South America continues to be an object of fascination for travelers from outside the continent, eager to encounter an exotic landscape of rainforests and hidden cities. This course pushes aside this romantic view to explore the true cultural and ecological diversity of a continent with over 15,000 years of human history. We will engage with the archaeology of South America as a dynamic field of discussion and controversy, examining topics such as the initial peopling of the Americas, social complexity in the Amazon, Inca and Spanish imperialism, and questions of decolonizing the discipline.
Instructors: Noa Emrys Corcoran-Tadd
New Approaches to Indigenous and Ecological Issues
The demographic shifts and new processes of cultural circulation associated with global capital and media, have disrupted traditional notions of geographically-bound identities and national cultures as apparatuses of power. At the same time, previously hidden, marginalized, and devalued forms of indigenous and native wisdom have reemerged, precisely to contest the destructive tendencies of Western epistemology. This seminar will therefore focus on the theories and methods of global Indigeneities to examine from their standpoint the dependence of human cognition on the natural environment.
Instructors: Arturo Arias
New Approaches to Indigenous and Ecological Issues
No description available
Instructors: Arturo Arias
Topics in Brazilian Cultural and Social History: Indigenous Brazil
This course analyzes current indigenous issues in Brazil, and the struggle for human and land rights that affect the Guarani Kaiowá, Yanomamis, Krenaks, Bororos, among other ethnicities. The emergence of contemporary indigenous literature and filmography will be studied along with canonical Brazilian literature and ethnographical studies. Topics include the building of the Belo Monte dam, the Rio Doce mining disaster, the survival of languages, the spread of Indigenous traditions, and the work of Indigenous writers and filmmakers.
Instructors: Marilia Librandi
Languages of the Americas
This course explores the vast linguistic diversity of the Americas: native languages, pidgins, creoles, mixed languages, and other languages in North, Central, and South America, including the Caribbean. We will examine historical and current issues of multilingualism to understand the relationship between language, identity, and social mobility. We will discuss how languages played a central role in colonization and nation-building processes, and how language policies contribute to linguistic loss and revitalization. This course has no prerequisites and is intended for students interested in learning more about languages in the Americas.
Instructors: Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo
Seminar in Colonial Spanish American Literature: Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in the (Colonial) Andes
How do we theorize the practices of insurgency and resistance, apostasy and heresy, riots and boycotts? How are they recorded, if at all? Can they write themselves? We explore seminal texts of Colonial Latin America, with a focus on the Andes, to examine how these are both inscribed and erased from the Archive and, in so doing, question the category of the "colonial" itself and the various prefixes associated with it. Primary authors include Las Casas, Francisco de la Cruz (heretic), Vargas Machuca, Guaman Poma de Ayala, Francisco Vásquez, and Lope de Aguirre; theoretical works by Guha, De Certeau, Clover, Marx and Rocker.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Human Rights in Latin America
Home to both shocking atrocities and heroic justice movements, Latin America illuminates the range of challenges, successes, tensions, and promises of the human rights project. Students will trace legacies of mass violations, such as those left by authoritarian rule. Students will then engage with contemporary human rights problems in the region, including the "war on drugs"; prison abuse; dissenter's rights; closing civil society space; indigenous land struggles; sexual and reproductive rights; and economic, social and cultural rights in the face of extreme inequality.
Instructors: Fernando Ribeiro Delgado
Topics in Policy Analysis (Half-Term): Can the World Preserve Its Forests?
This class explores potential policies to preserve the world's forests. It starts with a short introduction on the status of forests, expected changes, and effects on climate and biodiversity. The class then explores potential reforms to policies that often drive harvesting or conversion of forests, such as roadbuilding, forest concessions, bioenergy, timber and agriculture subsidies, as well as government policies designed to preserve forests, such as REDD+, protected areas, indigenous reserves, land tenure rules, enforcement of illegal wood harvest, and direct regulation of land use.
Instructors: Timothy D. Searchinger