Latin American Studies
Professors Fra-Molinero (Hispanic Studies) and Melvin (History) and Pieck (Environmental Studies); Associate Professor Pérez-Armendáriz (Politics, chair); Assistant Professors Lyon (Anthropology) and Pridgeon (Hispanic Studies)
Latin American studies is an interdisciplinary program that brings together different methods of inquiry to better understand the cultures, societies and environments of Latin America and its diasporas, including the many communities that historically pre-dated the United States, people who have immigrated to the United States from various parts of Latin America, and their descendants. The program also explores the importance of Latin America and Latinx communities in a global context. Latin American Studies provides opportunities for students seeking to deepen connections with their own Latin American and/or Latinx heritage.
Latin American Studies offers interdisciplinary and critical perspectives on colonialism, religion, race and ethnicity, politics, gender and sexuality, indigeneity, environments, language, cultural production, migration, and economics within the region’s societies. Course offerings draw from Africana, anthropology, environmental studies, gender and sexuality studies, Hispanic studies, history, politics, and religious studies. Students learn about a diverse area of the world that includes Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and the United States. They also consider the ongoing relevance of the interactions of the region’s indigenous population with people coming from Europe, Africa, and Asia for more than half a millennium. The on-campus curriculum and programming is supplemented with opportunities for off-campus study in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Major RequirementsStudents majoring in Latin American studies must complete a total of nine courses, one of which must be a 300-level seminar. Additionally, students must complete a senior thesis. To ensure a breadth of studies, the nine Latin American Studies courses must be from at least four different departments or programs including Africana, American studies, anthropology, art and visual Culture, environmental studies, gender and sexuality studies, history, music, politics, religious studies, sociology, and Hispanic studies.
Because proficiency in Spanish is required for courses in Hispanic studies, students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor and the chairs of Latin American studies and Hispanic studies to plan their course sequence and confirm they meet any prerequisites. More information on Hispanic studies may be found on the website
HI/LS 181. Latin American History: From the Conquest to the Present.
AN/LS 205. Citizenship, Borders, and Belonging.
LS.PT 208. Latinx Politics.
LS/SO 226. Sports, Gender, and Nation in Latin America.
AN/LS 238. Culture, Conflict, and Change in Latin America.
AN/ES 242. Environment, Human Rights, and Indigenous Peoples.
HI/LS 279. The Age of Independence in Latin America.
HI/LS 282. The City in Latin America.
HI/LS 301H. The Mexican Revolution.
INDS 301Y. The Spanish Inquisition.
HS/LS 341. Lectura Americana de Cervantes.
HISP 222.Short Narrative in the Spanish-speaking World.
HISP 230. Readings in Spanish American and Spanish Caribbean Literature.
HISP 337. Las voces del pueblo: Poetry and Music as Social Resistance in Latin America.
LS/SP 317. Screening Citizenship: Jewish Latin American Film.
INDS 321. Afroambiente: Escritura negra y medio ambiente.
LS/PT 352. Participatory Democracy in the Americas.
LS/PT 353. Political Violence in Latin America.
LAS 360. Independent Study.
INDS 390. Afro-Latinoamérica.
HI/LS s29. Montezuma's Mexico: Aztecs and Their World.
FYS 385. Power and Authority in Latin America through Film.
FYS 443. Heroes or Villains? Columbus and Fidel (Castro).
GS/PT 219. Social Movements in Latin America.
GS/HS 323. Gendered Experiences in the Américas Borderlands.
PLTC 209. Contemporary United States-Latin American Relations.
PLTC 249. The Politics of Latin America.
PLTC 320. Immigrants and Their Homelands.
Senior ThesisPlanning for the senior thesis (LAS 457 or 458) begins in the junior year with the submission of a thesis proposal. Information on the proposal may be found on the Latin American studies program website (bates.edu/latin-american-studies). The thesis should relate thematically to the student's course work and the student should consult with their thesis advisor to develop the proposal.
Off-Campus StudyMajors must take a minimum of six courses, in addition to the thesis, from Bates faculty members. Students may use a maximum of three credits taken elsewhere (off-campus study or transfer courses) toward the major requirements, subject to program approval. To request that an external course count toward the major, students should submit a copy of the syllabus to their academic advisor, preferably before they register for the class. To be eligible to count for program credit, students should submit material beyond lectures and exams, including some combination of outside reading assignments and substantive written work that includes instructor feedback. Courses taken off-campus may count toward the breadth-of-study requirements with the approval of the program chair. Courses taken abroad may not substitute for the required 300-level senior seminar or thesis, which must be taken at Bates.
Pass/Fail Grading OptionCourses taken pass/fail may not count toward the Latin American studies major. Courses
HI/LS 181. Latin American History: From the Conquest to the Present.Beginning with the first encounters between Europeans and Americans and ending with the challenges of globalization in the twenty-first century, this course offers a chronological and topical overview of 500 years of Latin American history. It examines individual lives within the frameworks of sweeping political, social, and cultural transformations. Students use primary documents, images, analytical texts, and films to explore the major themes of the course, including the nature of conquest; the mixing of European, African, and American cultures; independence and nation building; and twentieth-century social revolutions and military dictatorships. Special attention is given to issues of race, gender, religion, and the role of the United States. Enrollment limited to 39. (History: Early Modern.) (History: Latin American.) (History: Modern.) Normally offered every year. K. Melvin.
AN/LS 205. Citizenship, Borders, and Belonging.Increasing levels of globalization have prompted scholars to predict the diminishing importance of national borders. Contrarily, in the age of detention, deportation, and refugee crises, citizenship has gained renewed importance. In this course, students explore different ways of organizing citizenship around the world from multiple perspectives including those of refugees, visa seekers, unauthorized immigrants, soldiers, and mothers, among others. They examine how formal framings of rights are shaped by a politics of representation where the ideal citizen is crafted and contested. They also consider how those excluded from legal and cultural citizenship form alternative structures of belonging. Enrollment limited to 39. Normally offered every year. [AC] [HS] J. Lyon.
LS/PT 208. Latinx Politics.This course explores the role of Latinos in the state and national politics of the United States. It begins by examining the meaning of Latino, then explores the history of Latino political organization, social movements (civil rights), and political incorporation (citizenship acquisition, registration and voting). The course considers contemporary Latino participation in U.S. politics, including modes of political organization, social movements, public opinion, the impact of Latino voters on recent campaigns and elections, and the election of Latinos to public office. The course gives particular attention to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, and Cubans. Although the primary focus of the course is Latinos, the course may also serve as an introduction to the broader study of ethnic politics in the United States. Recommended background: PLTC 115. Enrollment limited to 29. (Politics: Identities and Interests.) Normally offered every year. C. Pérez-Armendáriz.
AN/LS 238. Culture, Conflict, and Change in Latin America.Over 400 million Latin Americans share a common language, but the region's racial, ethnic, geographical, and cultural diversity complicates a singular continental identity. This course surveys the anthropological scholarship on the diverse lifeways in Latin America and the Caribbean. Images and texts drawn from distinct locales considers how contrasting anthropological perspectives from the region’s peoples, histories, and contemporary challenges. Of particular concern are the ways legacies of colonialism shape both Latin America and anthropology. Additional topics of interest include indigenous and Afro-Latinx resistance and expression; immigration, transnationalism, and deportation; sex, gender, and sex work. Enrollment limited to 29. Normally offered every year. [AC] [HS] J. Lyon.
LS/PT 249. Politics of Latin America.This course explores modern South American politics. Students consider how major political and economic actors, events, and ideas from the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first contribute to strengthening or weakening democratic governance in the region today. Focusing on cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, students learn about mass politics and populism, regime breakdown and military rule, the twin challenges of democratic transitions and neoliberal economic reforms, and finally the post-transition challenges of persistent low quality of democracies and income inequality. Recommended background: HI/LS 181 and PLTC 122. Not open to students who have received credit for PLTC 249. Enrollment limited to 29. (Politics: Identities and Interests.) (Politics: Political Economy.) C. Pérez-Armendáriz.
HI/LS 270. The Spanish Empire: From Madrid to Manila.
Native American HistoryWhen examining the origins of our globalized modern world, there’s no better place to look than the Spanish empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At its peak it stretched around the world and encompassed what is now Spain, Portugal, parts of Italy and the Netherlands, the Philippines and much of North and South America. This course considers what it meant to live in different parts of these vast territories, including for “old Christian" Spaniards, recent Jewish converts to Christianity, Muslims, Africans and their descendents, and indigenous peoples of the Americas and Philippines. It also takes up questions of imperial scale, including the challenges of maintaining royal authority over distant lands and how goods, people, and knowledge moved throughout the empire. Not open to students who have received credit for BSAS 004. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. (History: Early Modern.) (History: European.) (History: Latin American.) K. Melvin.
HI/LS 272. The Mexican Revolution.The first major social revolution of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution continues to shape Mexico well into the twenty-first century. This course begins with the conditions and events leading up to the overthrow of President Porfirio Díaz in 1910, continues through the course of a bloody civil war, debates over how to build a new society, the divisive institutionalization of a "revolutionary" one-party state, and concludes with ways that the revolution has been remembered. Students consider the perspectives and goals of different participants in these events, including peasants, urban poor, local leaders, intellectuals, artists, local leaders, and national politicians. Course materials include letters, government documents, novels, images, music, and film. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. (History: Latin American.) (History: Modern.) K. Melvin.
HI/LS 279. The Age of Independence in Latin America.Most areas of Latin America gained their independence from Spain or Portugal during the early nineteenth century, but were these political transformations accompanied by equally great social, economic, or cultural change? This course explores not just the struggles to overthrow colonial powers, but also what it meant to live in the decades surrounding these tumultuous events. The first Latin American novel, The Mangy Parrot, provides the basis for exploring topics that include education, family, and daily life. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. (History: Early Modern.) (History: Latin American.) K. Melvin.
HI/LS 282. The City in Latin America.Today the majority of people in Latin America live in cities, but this was not the case 500 years ago when the first Europeans arrived. Since then cities have become home to people of all races and social strata. This course examines the development of cities as meeting grounds among different groups of people, as centers of wealth and power, and as sites where much of Latin America's culture was formed. It concentrates on major cities in Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil from precolonial civilizations through twentieth-century mass urbanization. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. (History: Early Modern.) (History: Latin American.) (History: Modern.) K. Melvin.
This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations
INDC 301Y. The Spanish Inquisition.Were witches and heretics really tortured in the Spanish Inquisition's infamous jails? This course examines both the institution of the Spanish Inquisition and the lives of those who came before it. The sins that concerned the Inquisition depended on the time and place, and the crimes prosecuted in sixteenth-century Spain or eighteenth-century New Spain reveal a great deal about early modern (ca. 1500–1800) culture and society. Students read and analyze original Inquisition cases from Spain and New Spain as well as consider the ways historians have used cases to investigate topics such as sexuality and marriage, witchcraft, and the persecution of Jews and Muslims. Cross-listed in history, Latin American studies, and religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. (History: Early Modern.) (History: European.) (History: Latin American.) [W2] [AC] [HS] K. Melvin.
This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations
HS/LS 317. Screening Citizenship: Jewish Latin American Film.This course considers films from throughout Latin America made by Jewish directors. Students learn the history of Latin American film production as well as terms and skills necessary for audiovisual analysis. The course examines the ways in which film is used as a vehicle to explore and represent issues of identity, belonging, immigration, and assimilation that have long characterized Jewish experiences in Latin America. Moreover, the course focuses on filmmakers’ engagement with key social and political issues within their respective countries as well as on a regional or global scale. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): HISP 211 and one additional 200-level Hispanic studies course. Recommended background: HISP 228. Not open to students who have received credit for LS/SP 317. Enrollment limited to 15. S. Pridgeon.
HS/LS 318. Next Year in Havana: Stories of the Jewish and Latinx Diaspora in the United States.This course considers literature authored by Jewish and Latinx-identifying authors writing from the United States and explores Jewishness as imagined by Latinx authors. Students examine the construction of intersecting Jewish and Latinx identities and experiences. Particular attention is paid to how Latinx ethnicities are constructed differentially throughout the Americas and how narratives of ethno-national identities (racial democracy in Brazil, Calibanism in Cuba, and the cosmic race in Mexico), particularly their spiritual implications, come into contact with both Jewishness as an ethnicity and Judaism as a religion. Taught in English. Recommended background: HISP 211 or a literature course in ethnic studies. Open only to juniors and seniors. Not open to students who have received credit for LS/SP 318. Enrollment limited to 15. (English: Race, Ethnicity, or Diasporic Literature.) S. Pridgeon.
INDC 321. Afroambiente: Escritura negra y medio ambiente.This course studies the response of black writers and intellectuals of the Spanish-speaking world to issues related to the natural environment. In several countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Equatorial Guinea, from colonial times to the present, modernity has brought serious challenges to notions of economic progress, human rights, and national sovereignty as well as individual and communal identity. Course materials include written texts from local newspapers and magazines as well as other sources of information such as websites that present issues related to the environment and the arts. All readings are in English. Taught in Spanish. Cross-listed in Africana, environmental studies, Hispanic studies, and Latin American studies. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above 211. Only open to juniors and seniors. Enrollment limited to 15. (Africana: Diaspora.) [AC] [HS] B. Fra-Molinero.
This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations
HS/LS 325. Weaving Memory and Trauma: Contemporary Spanish American Novel.The contemporary Spanish American novel that engages historical political violence does so from an intimate, textured view of memory and trauma. The memory and experience are entwined within recognizable but revised forms of fiction to accommodate voices tension, while a cohesive plot shapes and allows for the questioning of memory placement and the articulation of trauma. Contrary to the “gran novelas” of the twentieth century, the contemporary novel textures violence by integrating voices that question ideological pronouncements of the twentieth century. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above 211. Recommended background: HISP 230. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Aburto Guzmán.
LS/SP 325. Weaving Memory and Trauma: Contemporary Spanish American Novel.The contemporary Spanish American novel that engages historical political violence does so from an intimate, textured view of memory and trauma. The memory and experience are entwined within recognizable but revised forms of fiction to accommodate tensioned voices while a cohesive plot thread shapes and allows for the questioning of memory placement and the articulation of trauma. Contrary to the “gran novelas” of the twentiet hcentury, the contemporary novel textures violence by integrating voices that question ideological pronouncements of the twentieth century. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Spanish course beyond 211. Recommended background: SPAN 230. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Aburto Guzmán.
HS/LS 341. Lectura americana de Cervantes.A present-day reading in America of Don Quijote de La Mancha and other key texts of the Spanish and Spanish American Renaissance. This course examines themes of Islamophobia, white supremacy, conquest and empire, the slave trade, the quest for utopias, and the construction of historical narratives that shape the politics of the day. Students analyze myths and legends of the marvelous real such as the fountain of youth in Florida, the island of California, the return to the Golden Age, fabulous cities and unbelievable real ones (Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Cuzco) that are admired and destroyed, and a fake island in Louisiana called Barataria. Students consider issues that obsessed people in Cervantes' time: the expulsion of Muslims, hatred of Jews, war, gender roles and women's freedom, mental and physical disability, and changes to the environment in the form of windmills. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above HISP 211. Recommended background: HISP 231. Only open to juniors and seniors. Not open to students who have received credit for LS/SP 341. Enrollment limited to 15. [AC] [HS] B. Fra-Molinero.
LS/PT 352. Participatory Democracy in the Americas.How far can we press the ideal of true democracy? Is the individual right to vote the apex of democratic practice, or might we strive for deeper involvement in politics and the public sphere? This course engages canonical debates on the boundaries of liberal democratic practices and casts them against innovations in democratic governance. Ideas and solutions are assessed on normative and empirical grounds with particular attention to the position of marginalized groups. In addition to seminar-style meetings, the course deploys experiential learning techniques to connect theory to praxis. Enrollment limited to 15. (Politics: Institutional Politics.) (Politics: Philosophical, Literary, and Legal Studies.) [W2] Staff.
LS/PT 353. Political Violence in Latin America.Why is public life in contemporary Latin America so violent? Political violence is inherent to revolutions, civil wars, and authoritarian regimes. In contrast, one of the merits of democracy is that it facilitates the peaceful allocation of resources and power. For much of the twentieth century, Latin America struggled with insurgencies, civil war, and repressive authoritarian regimes. A wave of democratic transitions in the 1980s and 1990s brought renewed hope for peace, justice, and the protection of civil liberties. However, political violence persists. In many countries it has even intensified and spread. This course explores the puzzling persistence of violence throughout the region. Recommended background: HI/LS 181; PLTC 122, 249, s49, or another research methods course. Enrollment limited to 15. (Politics: Identities and Interests.) (Politics: Security, Conflict, and Cooperation.) [W2] C. Pérez-Armendáriz.
LAS 360. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Normally offered every semester. Staff.
INDC 390. Afro-Latinoamérica.The 500-year presence of Africans and their descendants in the Spanish-speaking world has produced a significant body of literature by Blacks and about Blacks. Spanish America was the main destination of the African diaspora. Writers of African descent attest to the struggle for freedom and the abolition of slavery as well as anti-colonialism. Their literature shows how the participation of Blacks in the wars of Latin American independence was a struggle for their emancipation. Afro-Hispanic writers in Spain, the Americas, and Africa use their art and ideas to address the postnational migrations of the twenty-first century, a diaspora that has not ceased. Cross-listed in Africana, Hispanic studies, and Latin American studies. Recommended background: AFR 100. Only open to juniors and seniors. Enrollment limited to 15. (Africana: Diaspora.) (Africana: Historical Perspective.) [AC] [HS] B. Fra-Molinero.
This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations
LAS 457. Senior Thesis.An in-depth independent study of Latin America. Majors register for LAS 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for LAS 457 in the fall semester and LAS 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff.
LAS 458. Senior Thesis.An in-depth independent study of Latin America. Majors register for LAS 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for LAS 457 in the fall semester and LAS 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff.
INDC s11. Bordering Hispaniola: Blackness, Mixture, and Nation in the Dominican Republic.This course explores Dominican identity and its relation to ideas of nation vis-à-vis the island’s shared border with Haiti. Before departing for Santo Domingo, students consider the contexts of colonialism, state formation, and labor migration that shape contemporary Dominican identities. In the Dominican Republic, students visit key sites in the African and Haitian diasporas in the country. Further, they examine performance and popular culture as key sites of antiracist engagement. Students employ participatory ethnographic methods and map making to examine key themes of identity, performance, and resistance. Cross-listed in Africana, anthropology, and Latin American studies. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. (Africana: Diaspora.) [AC] [HS] J. Lyon.
HI/LS s29. Montezuma's Mexico: Aztecs and their World.The Aztec state encompassed millions of people, featured a capital whose size and towering pyramids left the first Spanish visitors in awe, and developed a culture that continues to influence contemporary Mexico, from food and dress to festivals like the Day of the Dead. Yet Aztecs are more commonly remembered for their cannibalism than their complex civilization. This course examines the Aztec world: what it was like to live under Aztec rule, how society was organized, what people believed about how the cosmos worked, and why Aztecs practiced ritual human sacrifice. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. (History: Latin American.) (History: Premodern.) [AC] [HS] K. Melvin.
LAS s50. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study during a Short Term. Normally offered every year. Staff.