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History 347, Agrarian Societies in Latin American History
Instructor: Mr. Holloway
This course involves a series of lectures, readings, and
seminar sessions that will explore the development of patterns of wealth,
status,and power in Latin American history, emphasizing the role of country
people in the larger society.Beginning with an overview of the European
conquest and incorporation of native Americans and Africans into the colonial
system, then exploring historical trends with a thematic focus, the bulk
of the course deals sequentially with a variety of case studies reflecting
export agriculture, peasant and worker protest and political crises, land
reform, development programs, and neo-liberal policies of the recent past.
Several conceptual approaches will be considered for their relevance for
understanding the part agrarian society has played in the historical evolution
of Latin America more broadly, and how the region, in turn, has been integrated
into the wider world system.
No previous course work in Latin American history is required, but some
introduction to Latin American studies or agrarian development issues would
be very helpful. Students in doubt about the adequacy of their background
should consult with Mr. Holloway at the beginning of the semester.
Following the introductory meeting, the course is organized
into nine units of three class meetings each, disregarding the calendar
week (i.e., some units begin on Tuesdays, others on Thursdays). The first
session of each unit will be an informal lecture by the instructor, emphasizing
conceptual and/or comparative context for the main reading for that unit.
The next two sessions in each unit will be seminar discussions of the assigned
reading. Each of these latter sessions will be introduced and moderated
by a member of the class, according to a schedule to be arranged early
in the semester. All members of the class will be expected to prepare consistently
and regularly for, and participate in, these seminar sessions. The common
readings must be done prior to each meeting by all participants, and everyone
in the class (not only the moderator) should come prepared to pose questions
or raise topics for discussion, and respond to the initiatives taken along
these lines by the discussion leader of the day. With no final exam, you
are reading to prepare for each unit's discussions, not to regurgitate
to the instructor at the end of the semester. Anyone who maintains a consistently
passive role in discussion:
- will give others in the class the impression they have
not done the readings;
- will be misusing the opportunity a small class provides;
- will be unfairly taking advantage of the efforts and
energies of others.
It may eventually become necessary for the discussion
leader of the day to turn to members of the group who have had--or taken--less
opportunity to contribute than others, look the person in the eye, and
ask directly "what do you think about (x)?" The answer, in turn,
might very well be "I don't know," followed by something like
"because I didn't understand (y) and (z) about the reading."
In other words, expressing doubt and seeking clarification are quite acceptable,
appropriate, and worthwhile contributions to the joint exercise. Declarative
opinions or interpretations are only two of many ways to further the discussion
toward the common goal of full and collective understanding of the material
at hand. Carpe diem!
Each member of the class will be expected to write a research
paper of some 20-25 pages, to be due on Friday,
May 3. By March 14 (just before
Spring Break) everyone must submit a tentative title and one or two paragraphs
sketching the topic, research issue(s) and initial bibliography of their
project. Anyone who would like more orientation, or to discuss possible
topics, should see Mr. Holloway before that date. On April 18 a second
brief (1-2 page) progress report will be due. The course readings cover
a range of times, places, and interpretive themes, but there are many other
possibilities. Members of the class are encouraged to cast their net for
exploration of possible paper topics more broadly, beyond the times, places,
and issues dealt with in the common readings. More detailed discussion
of research strategies, approaches, and format will follow in due time.
The following books and will be read in the order listed.
- Huber, Evelyne,
and Frank Safford (eds). Agrarian Structure and Political Power: Landlord
and Peasant in the Making of Latin America. Pittsburgh, 1995.
- Stein, Stanley. Vassouras, A Brazilian Coffee County,
1850-1900. 2nd ed., Princeton Press, 1985.
- Roseberry, William (ed). Coffee, Society, and Power in
Latin America Johns Hopkins, 1995.
- Maybury-Lewis, Biorn. The Politics of the Possible: the
Brazilian Rural Workers' Trade Union Movement, 1964-1985. Temple UP, 1994.
- Handy, Jim. Revolution in the Countryside: Rural Conflict
and Agrarian Reform in Guatemala, 1944-54. UNC Press, 1994.
- Durham, William H. Scarcity and Survival in Central America.
- Williams, Robert G. Export Agriculture and the Crisis
in Central America UNC Press, 1986.
- Barry, Tom. Zapata's Revenge: Free Trade and the Farm
Crisis in Mexico. South End Press, 1995.
- Collier, George. Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion
in Chiapas. Food First Books, 1994.