Syllabus: Latin America and the World, Spring 2014

Latin America and the World
Professor Patrick Iber
Spring 2014 / MWF 11AM-12  / 88 Dwinelle
If anything knits together the diverse region known as Latin America, it is a shared experience of imperialism and neo-imperialism on the world stage. This course will examine the ways in which the nations of Latin America have managed that fate: resisting it, embracing it, and trying to reform it. We will examine cases of clear interventions by foreign empires, from France in nineteenth-century Mexico to the U.S. in Central America and Chile in the late twentieth. But we will also look at more subtle forms of economic and cultural influence, and consider the ways that Latin American nations from Cuba to Costa Rica tried to limit the power of the U.S. and project their own influence. We will end with a discussion of transnational issues in contemporary Latin America, including the drugs trade. Class will feature frequent student-led debates.
Course texts:
Stephen Rabe, The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Gobat, Michel.  Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua Under U.S. Imperial Rule.  Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2005, $27.
Emily S. Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), $21.
Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006, $19.
Piero Gleijeses, The Cuban Drumbeat, Chicago: Seagull Books, 2009, $15.
Ioan Grillo. El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2012, $18.
Your grade will be based on the following:
20% reading journals. As you do the course readings, keep a running log of your reactions. Each week, you should write a couple of paragraphs in response (200-300 words), explaining reactions, responses, and questions raised by the readings. You can skip writing your reaction (but not the reading!) in two weeks out of the semester without penalty. Your journals will be collected twice: once in the middle of the term, and again at the end.
20% Debate brief. Once during the semester, each student will be responsible for writing an elaborate debate brief, of 5-7 pages, based on that week’s readings. The brief should have three parts: it should lay out the debate position you are defending, explain the most powerful rebuttals to your argument, and finally feature a counter-rebuttal in which you attempt to respond to those arguments. Students who prepare briefs will then lead teams during the in-class debate.
20% Debate participation.
20% Group WikiLeaks projects. The WikiLeaks document release contained interesting material about Latin America, and it has made possible a partial understanding of the techniques and limitations of U.S. diplomacy in the region in very recent years. You will sign up to analyze one country. With the other people signed up for the same country, you will develop a presentation for the class that excerpts the most important parts of leaked documents and explains the overall picture of U.S.-Latin American relations that emerges from them. Presentations will be given in class during week 13, and during RRR week if necessary.
20% final. As required in all “100” courses, there is an in-class final. Ours is scheduled for Tuesday May 13, from 7-10PM.
Course schedule:
Week 1: Introduction
W, Jan. 22: Introduction to the class, syllabus
F, Jan. 24: Discussion
“Introduction,” 3-12 in George Lichtheim, Imperialism, (New York: Praeger, 1971).
“Imperialism as a Special Stage of Capitalism,” in V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, (New York: International Publishers, 1939).
Rabe, Killing Zone, “Introduction”
Discussion: What is the most useful definition of imperialism for the purposes of thinking about the relationship of the U.S. to Latin America?
Week 2, Foreign Empire and the Creation of Latin America
M, Jan 27: The international system and Latin American independence; plus Mexican wars: U.S. & France
W, Jan 29: Class discussion of readings, led by instructor
F, Jan 31: NO CLASS
John Leddy Phelan, “Pan-Latinism, French Intervention in Mexico (1861-1867) and the genesis of the idea of Latin America,” in Conciencia y autenticidad históricas: escritos en homenaje a Edmundo O’Gorman, J. Ortega y Medina, ed., Mexico City, UNAM, 1968.
Leslie Bethell, “Brazil and ‘Latin America,’” Journal of Latin American Studies 42, 457-485.
Discussion: How has empire shaped the concept of Latin America?
Week 3, The Rise of the United States
M, Feb 3: Video: The Gringo in Mañanaland
W, Feb 5: Primary document analysis: Latin America in Caricature
F, Feb 7: The Rise of the US: Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico
Rabe, The Killing Zone, “Roots of Cold War Interventions,” pp. 1-20
Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream, pp. 1-161
Week 4: New Strategies for Informal Empire
M, Feb. 10: The Good Neighbor Policy
W, Feb. 12: Debate
F, Feb. 14: Pan-Americanism in Wartime
Gobat, Confronting the American Dream, 1-17, 150-280
Debate: U.S. intervention left a dictatorship in Nicaragua, not a democracy. Was this the result of intended or unintended consequences at work?
Week 5: Pan-Americanism
M, Feb. 17: NO CLASSES
W, Feb. 19: Movie: Saludos Amigos
F, Feb. 21: Debate
Rabe, The Killing Zone, “The Kennan Corollary,” pp. 21-35
“The alliance for modernization,” pp. 109-136 and “Resistance communities,” 137-159 in Thomas O’Brien, The Revolutionary Mission: American Enterprise in Latin America, 1900-1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream, 162-234
Debate: Should the Good Neighbor Policy be a model for today’s inter-American relations?
Week 6: Guatemala
M, Feb. 24: The Origins of Latin America’s Cold War
W, Feb. 26: Bananas and Empire
F, Feb. 28: Debate
Rabe, Killing Zone, “Guatemala—The Mother of Interventions,” 36-58
Cullather, Secret History
Debate: What was the most important cause in the overthrowing of Jacobo Arbenz: U.S. government pressure or the actions and beliefs of conservatives in Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America?
Week 7: Managing Empire for Fun and Profit
M, Mar. 3: The Country that Shouldn’t Exist: Costa Rica
W, Mar. 5: The Bolivian Revolution
F, Mar. 7: Debate
Kyle Longley, “Peaceful Costa Rica, the first Battleground: The United States and the Costa Rican Revolution of 1948,” The Americas 50, no. 2 (October 1993): 149-175.
Steven Schwartzberg, “Romulo Betancourt: From a Communist Anti-Imperialist to a Social Democrat with US Support,” Journal of Latin American Studies 29, no. 3 (October 1997): 613-665.
Patrick Iber, “‘Who will impose democracy?’: Sacha Volman and the Contradictions of CIA Support for the Anticommunist Left in Latin America,” Diplomatic History.
Debate: Did the Anti-Communist Left represent a real opportunity during the Cold War, or did its alliance with the U.S. fatally compromise its ability to enact left-wing change?
Week 8: The making of Cuba
M, Mar 10: Film: Triumph of the Cuban Revolution
W, Mar. 12: The U.S., the Cuban Revolution, and the New Left
F, Mar. 14: Icons of Revolution
No reading this week: get together with your group to work on your WikiLeaks projects.
Week 9, Cuba at Home and Abroad
M, Mar. 17: Steven Soderbergh, Che [Part II]
W, Mar. 19: Steven Soderbergh, Che [Part II]
F, Mar. 21: Debate
Rabe, Killing Zone, “War Against Cuba,” pp. 59-84
Gleijeses, The Cuban Drumbeat
Debate: Was U.S. diplomacy against Cuban interests more successful than Cuban diplomacy against U.S. interests, or the other way around?
March 24-28: SPRING BREAK
Week 10: Chile
M, Mar. 31: Cold War, internal and external
W, Apr. 2: Revisiting La Batalla de Chile
F, Apr. 4: Debate
Rabe, Killing Zone, “No More Cubas,” and “Military Dictators: Cold War Allies,” pp. 85-143
“Project FUBELT,” pp. 1-35, 47-48, 58-59 and “Destabilizing Democracy: The United States and the Allende Government,” pp. 79-115, 138-139, 146-149 in Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, (New York: New Press, 2003).
Fermandois, Joaquin.  “The persistence of a myth: Chile in the eye of the Cold War hurricane.”  World Affairs 167, no. 3 (Winter 2005), 101-112.
Tanya Harmer, “Brazil’s Cold War in the Southern Cone, 1970-1975,” Cold War History 12, no. 4 (2012): 659-681.
Debate: Should Henry Kissinger be prosecuted for crimes against humanity because of his role in destabilizing the Allende government?
Week 11: Central America
M, Apr. 7: Nicaragua
W, Apr. 9: Guatemala
F, Apr. 11: Debate
Rabe, Killing Zone, “Cold War Horrors—Central America,” pp. 144-174
Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions, 242-255, 271-304, 312-318, 353-358, 362-368
Oñate, Andrea. “The Red Affair: FMLN-Cuban Relations during the Salvadoran Civil War, 1981-1992,” Cold War History 11, no. 2 (2011): 133-154.
Debate: Would the outcomes of the Central American conflicts of the 1980s have been different in the absence of outside interference?
Week 12: Transnational Crime in Latin America
M, Apr. 14: Colombia
W, Apr. 16: Mexico
F, Apr. 18: Debate
Grillo, El Narco, pp. 109-291
Debate: Should the U.S. legalize drugs in order to lessen the suffering associated with cartelized trade?
Week 13: WikiLeaks Group Projects
M, Apr. 21: Group presentations
W, Apr. 23: Group presentations
F, Apr. 25: Group presentations
Week 14: Latin America and the World
M, Apr. 28: ALBA diplomacy
W, Apr. 30: Another BRIC in the Wall
F, May 2: Summing up
Rabe, Killing Zone, “Aftermath,” 175-195
More readings will be announced, based on current events
RRR Week, May 5-9, may feature group presentations if necessary.
Final Exam: Tuesday May 13, 7-10PM

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