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Introduction to Modern Latin America
HILA 256/LAC 252
Spring 2023

Prof. Chad Black
Phone: 974-9871
Office: 2627 Dunford Hall, 6th Floor (Until they burn that Dunford down.)
Office Hours: Wednesday, 1:30-3:30, or by appointment


Mr. Roraig Finney ( alphabet I-Z. Mr. Casey Price ( alphabet A-H.


This course traces the principal economic, social and political transformations in Latin America from the Wars of Independence to the present in order to understand the roots of ethnic conflict, social inequality and political instability in modern Latin America. Why is there so much poverty in Latin America? What has been the role of the United States in the region? How does the military maintain such power in politics? Why is Latin music so damn good? These and other questions will be addressed in lectures, readings, films and discussions. The class will use a comparative framework to address topics such as the consolidation of nation states and their insertion in the world economy after Independence; changes in land use and labor organization; political movements for liberalism, populism, and revolution; popular culture; industrialization and class politics; military regimes and subsequent redemocratization; U.S. policy and intervention; and the emergence of contemporary social movements in the context of neoliberal economies.

While some familiarity with Latin America will be helpful, this is an introduction to the history of the region since the end of colonial rule.


This semester, I am not requiring you to purchase any books. All readings will be provided to the student electronically.

Course Requirements

Students are required to engage in this class. Learning is an interactive process, and requires active participation by all members of the class. Students need to read, write, and attend lecture in order to be successful in this class. The history of Latin America is being written as we speak in the quotidian actions of indigenous people, politicians, artists, and more. Likewise, history reverberates in the events of today, as well as their meanings. As part of this course, students are required to read news from Latin America. In addition to these weekly activities, there are a series of formal assignments.

These assignments are designed to contribute to the overall objectives of the semester, including both content-specific and skill-based goals.

Course Objectives

HILA 256/LAC 252 fulfills part of the Volcore Global Citizenship- International Focus requirement. Courses in the International Focus area of the Global Citizenship category develop students’ knowledge of international cultures. Courses will help students develop an understanding of historical influences and contemporary dynamics that shape the experiences of those living outside the United States. 

Courses in this area are expected to produce the following learning outcomes for students: 

  • Students will exhibit knowledge of the histories, experiences, religions, and/or languages of social, ethnic, and cultural groups outside of the United States. 
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of appropriate thematic and course-related vocabulary, or intermediate-level competency in a language other than English. 
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to critically compare and reflect on different social and cultural perspectives.


Accommodations: Qualified students with disabilities needing appropriate academic adjustments should contact me as soon as possible to ensure that your needs are met in a timely manner with appropriate documentation.

Attendance: Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory. If you will not be able to attend class, please contact me ahead of time.

Deadlines: Assignments must be turned in to the instructor or teaching assistant at the end of class on the day they are due, unless otherwise arranged by the professor. Late papers will not be accepted without prior arrangement, for any reason. This includes technology problems.

Plagiarism and Academic Honesty: Plagiarism occurs when someone knowingly or unknowingly presents another person’s words or ideas as his or her own. Any work turned in for this class must meet University standards for academic honesty. Any students unsure about how to apply these rules are urged to consult with me prior to turning in any written work.

Office Hours: Students are strongly encouraged to speak with me outside of class. The advantages of talking with me include: extra help on an assignment or preparation for an exam; clarification of materials covered in lecture, discussion of my comments on your work; discussion of this or related courses. I am available during office hours on a first-come, first-served basis; if you cannot come by during office hours, please contact me via email or phone and I will be happy to set up an appointment with you.

Changes: I reserve the write to change this syllabus as the semester progresses. This is not a contract, but rather a document to guide expectations and clearly communicate weekly assignments. Please bring the syllabus with you to our class meetings. Or, keep up with it on the course website.