1. Readings
  2. Films
  3. Assignments


There are four books for purchase:

  1. Britto, Lina. Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020.

  2. de la Cadena, Marisol. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.

  3. Grandin, Greg. The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

  4. Gutierrez Aguilar, Rachel. Rhythms of the Pachakuti: Indigenous Uprising and State Power in Bolivia. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

Additional readings will be available from the library’s website or on Canvas.


We will watch the following films this semester:

  1. La llorona (2021). Director: Jayro Bustamante. (Guatemala) (Amazon)

  2. Ixcanul (2015). Director: Jayro Bustamante. (Guatemala)

  3. Birds of Passage (2018). Director: Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. (Colombia)

  4. Embrace of the Serpent (2015). Director: Ciro Guerra. (Colombia)

  5. Opening the Earth: The Potato King (2020). Director: Eric Ebner. (United States/Peru)

  6. Cocalero (2006). Director: Alejandro Landes. (Bolivia)


  1. Participation and Self-Evaluation. (15%)

    This course requires your active participation in film discussions and lecture. All students must participate in discussions and as we dissect the films.

  2. Reading Memos. (25%)

    Students will write weekly reaction papers or research memos each week.
    Instructions for how to write a research memo are available here. We will also practice writing these types of pieces in groups in class. Due no later than Friday night.

  3. Film Papers. (60%)

    After each pair of films, students will write a 4-6 page paper critiquing the films using the provided readings. Each paper should include a short overview of the plots, the important characters, and a discussion of the historical themes that they embody. Then, with reference to the readings, evaluate the historic merits of the film. Analyze the readings in the context of the film, and the film in the context of the readings.

    It is up to you which historical themes you decide to emphasize from the theme, but you must be able to connect them to specifics in either the primary or secondary readings at your disposal, and the content of our lectures and discussions.

Extra credit opportunities:

  1. Write up current events that connect to our films, themes, etc.
  2. Extra film paper on a film of your choosing.