Academic program

The Latin American Studies program aims at enhancing Bates’ stated mission to become a center of learning in today’s global culture. By encompassing multiple approaches to the study of Latin America (including the circum-Caribbean and its Diasporas), the program provides students with a set of well-developed perspectives on the region. It seeks to broaden students’ worldviews, challenge ethnocentric attitudes, expand understandings of diversity in today’s world, introduce alternative ways of engaging with societies and environments, and develop tools necessary to communicate across cultures.

Major Requirements. Any student considering a major in Latin American Studies must complete a total of ten courses. These include a core set of: HIST 181, two Spanish courses centered on Latin American cultural studies, two social science courses centered on Latin America, and 457 or 458 (senior thesis). At least three of the core courses must be completed before the senior year. In addition, students take four courses from one of the concentrations within the major, including a junior-senior seminar chosen with a view towards thesis. Study-abroad courses cannot substitute for core courses or the seminar, but may count towards the student’s concentration. Study-abroad courses to be applied to the major must be approved by the advisor before the student begins the abroad program.

As an interdisciplinary program, Latin American Studies relies on courses across a number of different departments and programs. In some cases, those courses carry prerequisites. In particular, because a basic proficiency in Spanish (above the SPAN 208 level) is required for the major, students are strongly encouraged to plan their courses early and consult with their advisor and the program chair.

Students who wish to double-major in Spanish and Latin American Studies cannot double-dip heavily between the two majors. Courses in the Spanish department focused on peninsular Spain will count towards the Spanish major, while courses in the same department but focused on Latin America will count towards the LAS major.

Students who wish to pursue their interest in Latin America without committing to a major should consider fulfilling the Latin American Studies GEC

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Course Plan. In order to successfully complete the major, students must take courses in at least four different fields over their course of study. A major in Latin American Studies consists of the following:

I. Core Courses

Students may not double-dip between core courses and courses chosen anywhere else in the major. At least three of the five core courses must be completed before the student’s senior year.

1.  Two upper level Spanish courses on Latin America. SPAN 215 is required, as a panoramic introduction to Latin American readings. In addition, students must take one Spanish course at the upper 200- or 300-level from the following list: INDS 321, SPAN 250, SPAN 330, SP/WS 323.

2.  HIST 181.

3.  Two Social Science Courses centered on Latin America from the following list: PLTC 249, AA/AN 251, PLTC 209, AN/ES 242, ECON 225.

II. Concentration

Four courses in one of the following concentrations. At least one of these courses must be a 300-or 400-level seminar. Up to two study-abroad courses may count towards the concentration with the approval of the LAS committee. Study-abroad courses may not count for the seminar.

1.  Race, Gender, and Ethnicity

This concentration constitutes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Latin American identities. Course offerings study the process of identity construction and the cultural politics of said identities. Students analyze fiction, historical documents, essays, ethnographies, manifestos, poetry, and film that provide a basis for understanding the performance and mobilization of identities. The political and cultural discourses of women, indigenous communities, and blacks are examined in the enduring struggle for self-determination, including the responses to voluntary and forced movements of individuals and groups. Approved courses in this concentration are: AA/SP 450, AN/ES 242, AN/SO 232, AS 390F/SP 490F, ENVR 350, FYS 329, HIST 279, HIST 280, HI/RE 390Y, INDS 321, PLTC s13, SPAN 232SPAN 323, SPAN 330, SPAN 345, SPAN 440, SPAN 449, SPAN 450.

2.  Cultural Representations

This concentration examines representations from the colonial past to the postcolonial present in and about Latin America. Focusing primarily on narratives and visual texts it underscores the multifarious contributions that cultural productions make to both relationships of power, and alternatively to contestatory strategies used by those who question the hegemonic center. It develops critical readings methods to discern characteristics embedded in the artifacts that we study, situating them in the Latin American context and underscoring both the regional and national differences that make the artifacts unique to their time and place. Approved courses in this concentration are: AA/AN 251, HIST 279, HIST s27, HI/RE 390Y, INDS 321, SPAN 250, SPAN 330, SPAN 366, SPAN 442, SPAN 449, SPAN 454.

3.  Power: Imposition and Contestation

This concentration explores international and national institutions, social norms, cultures, and ideas that have shaped and continue to shape the distribution of power and resources in Latin America. The concentration also explores enduring patterns of inequality and strategies to address those patterns. Approved courses in this concentration are:AA/AN 251, AA/ES 250, AN/ES 242, ANTH 330, AS 390F/SP 490F, ECON 225, FYS 329, FYS 385, HIPT 237, HIPT 390V, HIST 280, HIST 390H, HI/RE 390Y, HIST s18, PLTC 209PLTC 320, PLTC s15, LS/SP s21, SPAN 323, SPAN 400, SPAN 440, SPAN 490F.

III. Senior Thesis

Planning for the senior thesis begins in the junior year with the submission of a thesis proposal. Information on the proposal can be found on the Latin American Studies program website. It is expected that the thesis connects thematically to the student’s chosen concentration and that the student will work in consultation with their advisor to elaborate a proposal and the subsequent thesis.