Academic Course Catalogs

Drop Shadow

Latin American Studies

Alejandro Meter, PhD, Languages and Literatures

Michelle Madsen Camacho, PhD, Sociology
Stephen J. Conroy, PhD, School of Business
Alana Cordy-Collins, PhD, Anthropology
Evelyn Diaz Cruz, MFA, Theatre Arts
Esteban Del Río, PhD, Communications Studies
Emily Edmonds-Poli, PhD, Political Science and International Relations
Kimberly Eherenman, PhD, Languages and Literatures
Iris Engstrand, PhD, History
Orlando Espín, PhD, Theology and Religious Studies
Michael Gonzalez, PhD, History
Jerome Hall, PhD, Anthropology
Belinda C. Lund, PhD, Sociology
Julia Medina, PhD, Languages and Literatures
Kristin Moran, PhD, Communication Studies
Angelo Orona, PhD, Anthropology
Alma Ortega, PhD, Copley Library
Gail Perez, PhD, English
Amanda Petersen, PhD, Languages and Literatures
Alberto Lopez Pulido, PhD, Ethnic Studies
Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, PhD, Sociology
Kenneth P. Serbin, PhD, History
David Shirk, PhD, Political Science and International Relations
Leonora Simonovis, PhD, Languages and Literatures
Randy Willoughby, PhD, Political Science and International Relations

The Latin American Studies Minor

Latin American Studies is a dynamic, interdisciplinary minor designed to help students develop a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the historical, cultural, political, economic, and social conditions that have shaped contemporary Latin America. In this minor students are encouraged to articulate important connections between local and world societies in the context of the Latin American experience; this entails the study of the complex historical formation of this region and its cultural and ethnic diversity, from the foundation of Amerindian civilizations, the European conquest, and the impact of the African slave trade, to the challenges of the 21st century.

Student learning objectives are organized into the following five interrelated areas, which constitute the central themes that appear throughout the curriculum:

  1. The Idea of Latin America
  • Understand different worldviews and epistemologies in the imperial/colonial context of the initial encounter, the subsequent “invention” of America, and the emergence of the idea of “Latin” America in the 19th century.
  • Explore the ways in which Latin America has been conceived of as part of the West and simultaneously as peripheral to it.
  • Identify the present physical geographies, administrative-political structures, and demographics of the Latin American countries, and analyze the ways in which these are defined from internal and external perspectives.

2. Cultural and Ethnic Diversity

  • Explore the artistic and cultural production of Latin America throughout history, from ancient Amerindian civilizations and the legacy of the African slave trade to the present, with an emphasis on the diversity of perspectives.
  • Compare and contrast different concepts on and theoretical approaches to the cultural and ethnic diversity of Latin America, such as transculturation, hybridization, mestizaje, neo-baroque, among others.
  • Explore the linguistic diversity of Latin America and develop communicative proficiency in one or more Latin American languages.

3. Conquest, Colonialism and Coloniality

  • Analyze the complexities of conquest, colonialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism and their legacies.
  • Understand and analyze the construction of racial categories and racism in Latin America both in the context the conquest of indigenous peoples and the subsequent African slave trade and in more recent manifestations.
  • Explore the relationship between coloniality — the colonial matrix of power that goes beyond the historical period of colonialism — and the rhetoric of modernity in the economic, political, civic, and personal/subjective realms.

4. Independence, National Consolidation, and Democracy

  • Identify and analyze the different political and economic structures or systems that have appeared in Latin America since independence and the socio-historical conditions in which they each emerged.
  • Analyze the manifestation of European Enlightenment ideals in Latin America and contrast them with Amerindian and Afro-American epistemologies and world views. Define and analyze the following dichotomies and concepts in this context: civilization and barbarism, progress and primitivism, development and underdevelopment.
  • Analyze the following concepts in specific junctures of Latin American history, from 19th-century nation building, throughout the 20th century, and to the present: revolution and subversion; dictatorship and state violence; war and armed conflict; human rights and memory; justice and reconciliation; (re)democratization.

5. Global Designs and Local Histories

  • Understand the ways in which the term “Latin” America is a misnomer, both within local histories and global designs, and how other terms are used to describe this region, such as Afro-Latin America, among others.
  • Identify and analyze current challenges faced by Latin American countries in regional, national, hemispherical, and transnational contexts.
  • Explore and analyze Latin American experiences as part of the transnational flows of people, culture, technology, media, and finance within global capitalism.

Requirements for the Minor

  1. The Latin American Studies minor requires 18 units, combining panoramic and focused courses, nine units each.
  2. Study abroad: Students must either complete three units of study — which count toward the total 18 units — in a Latin American country with a USD affiliated program or participate in a USD sponsored service-learning trip to Latin America. In the event a student is unable to participate in a study abroad program, he or she may fulfill this requirement with an internship or community-based project focused on a Latin American topic and designed in collaboration with the program director.
  3. Interdisciplinary requirement: Not more than six units of the total 18 units required for the minor may be from any given discipline.
  4. Please see the full course descriptions under the appropriate departmental listings. In addition to the curriculum below, there may be additional courses offered — including special topics and courses offered less frequently — in any given semester, which may count toward the minor. Please consult with the program director.

Preparation for the Minor

  1. Language requirement: Students must complete SPAN 202 Fourth Semester Spanish or its equivalent. Those students who study another language of Latin America, in addition to Spanish — such as Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Quechua, Nahuatl, Guarani, Mixtec, or another determined in consultation with the program director — may count three units of language study toward the total 18 units.
  2. Prerequisites: Some of the courses in the curriculum do have prerequisites. Please consult with the individual course descriptions in each discipline.

Panoramic Courses

Nine units must be completed from the list below, one course in each discipline. These are courses that span all major geographical areas of Latin American and provide students with a panoramic perspective of the region:

  1. HIST 360 Colonial Latin America (3) OR
    HIST 361 Modern Latin America (3)
  2. POLS 357 Politics in Latin America (3) OR
    POLS 374 U.S.-Latin American Relations (3)
  3. SPAN 304 Cultural History of Latin America (3) OR
    SPAN 360 Survey of Latin American Literature (3)

Focused Courses

Nine units must be completed from the list below:

ANTH 327
ANTH 328
ANTH 334
ECON 335
ETHN 343
ETHN 361
HIST 362
HIST 363
HIST 383
HIST 384
HIST 387
POLS 366
SOCI 460
SPAN 305
SPAN 448
SPAN 449
SPAN 451
SPAN 453
SPAN 458
THRS 321
THRS 358
South American Indian Cultures (3)
Caribbean Cultures (3)
South American Archaeology (3)
Economic Development of Latin America (3)
Chicano/Latino Studies (3)
Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Ethnicity, Race and Gender (3)
Topics in Latin American History (3)
History of Brazil (3)
Chicano History (3)
History of Mexico (3)
History of Baja California (3)
Politics in Mexico (3)
Immigration (3)
Spanish for Business and Social Entrepreneurship (3)
Latin American Short Story (3)
Latin American Novel (3)
Latin American Poetry (3)
Mexican Literature and Culture (3)
Jewish Latin America
Afro-Latin Religions (3)
Latino/a Catholicism (3)

Latin American Studies Courses (LATS)

The following courses count toward the above requirements, as panoramic or focused courses, depending on the topics studied. This should be determined in consultation with the program director.

LATS 294              Special Topics in Latin American Studies (1-3)
Analysis of a specific topic within Latin American Studies with a thematic, regional, or historical focus. This course may be repeated for credit with different course content.

LATS 494              Special Topics in Latin American Studies (1-3)
Analysis of a specific topic within Latin American Studies with a thematic, regional, or historical focus. This course may be repeated for credit with different course content.

LATS 499 Independent Study (1-3)
Arranged with the consent of a faculty advisor and the program director.