History 317 examines the societies and history of Latin America from the independence movements
(beginning circa 1800) to the present day and the various ways scholars have studied this period and
region. The course will examine the evolution of Latin American states and societies through three
interrelated dimensions of world history. Firstly, the character of nation-states and how to organize
political life is a central and persistent feature of modern Latin American history. As a result, we will
examine the competitions over constitutions and parliament, democracy, oligarchy and authoritarianism,
rights for men and women, nationalism, imperialism and the role of the military. Secondly, the rise of
global capitalism had a direct and transformative impact on Latin American societies. The class will look
at the roles of both government and private citizens and the interactions of working people with
managers. Furthermore, we will scrutinize the relations between the social classes, between men and
women at work, in the public sphere and in the family, and between rural and urban dwellers. These
interactions were complicated with far-reaching consequences. Thirdly, the course will examine the
conflict among nations and the contentious and evolving relations among Latin American nations, as well
as with western European powers and the United States. Our goal is to convey some basic factual
knowledge about Latin American societies during this period and to provide an interpretive framework for
understanding the historical changes taking place.
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