General Seminar: 20th-Century Latin America


Description | Requirements | Grading | Readings | Schedule

Spring 2008

Wednesdays 3:30 -6:00pm

Taliaferro 2101

Prof. Daryle Williams
Department of History
2131A Francis Scott Key Hall
(301) 405-4267
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Description and Objectives

This course offers a broad overview of important historical literature—mainly published in the English language, but transnational in scope—about twentieth-century Spanish and Portuguese America. The reading assignments have been selected for their narrative, empirical, methodological, and historiographic value. Each assigned monograph and its accompanying short reading should be treated as individual works of research that illuminate specific times and places in modern Latin America, as well as interlocutors in a larger scholarly exchange about the big questions, problems, and approaches to the study of modern Latin American history.

The weekly readings and writing assignments have been selected in order to: 1) introduce major concepts, arguments, and figures in the field of twentieth-century Latin American history; 2) appreciate the evolution of the field of Latin American history; 3) sharpen analytical writing; and, 4) prepare field concentrators for comprehensive examinations.

Course Organization and Requirements

In-class discussion will focus on the weekly reading assignments, which pair a scholarly monograph and a short reading.

During the second week, all students will be responsible for preparing a brief (two-page maximum) précis of one of the six assigned articles. The précis will be distributed to the entire class, for the basis of our discussion on February 6, 2008.

Once during the semester, each student will take primary responsibility for leading the discussion of a week's required reading. The presenter will also prepare a 1000-word critical review of the weekly common reading. A prelimary draft of the review will be circulated among the class participants prior to the appropriate discussion. The presenter will then have the opportunity to revise the review based upon the in-class discussion.

Each student will be expected to write a second critical review (again, 1000 words maximum) of another weekly common reading of his/her choice. The reviews should summarize, analyze, and contextualize the main argument of the selected monograph. The regular book reviews published in the Hispanic American Historical Review, the American Historical Review, and H-LATAM should be used as guides.

At the end of the course, each student will be responsible for writing a fifteen-to-twenty page historiographic review essay on 6-8 monographs and articles about a chosen subject related to the twentieth century. Up to two monographs from the common readings may be used for the review essay. The other readings should be drawn from the list of recommended readings and/or other readings. Field concentrators are expected to incorporate at least two relevant works published in Latin America. This review essay should assess the connections and disjunctures between the chosen monographs, looking for the ways in which subject matter, theoretical models, use of sources, and methodology are presented by individual authors, as well as the collective. Review essays appearing in the Latin American Research Review, the American Historical Review, and the Hispanic American Historical Review should be used as guides.


Final grades will be determined usually the following formula:

Reviews 30% (15% each)
Participation 30%
Final Paper 40%

Active participation and lively discussions enrich everyone's learning experience.

Statement of Academic Integrity

The Code of Academic Integrity guides this and all other courses taught at the University of Maryland. Violations may result in a failing grade and/or referral to a University disciplinary committee.

Reading Availability

All required readings will be available through course reserves, electronic journal databases, and/or the University Book Center. The Course Reserves Desk will only hold one copy of assigned monographs (24-hour reserve) and edited collections (two-hour reserves). It is important that class participants coordinate their reading schedules so that everyone has an opportunity to read the assigned book before class.

Full-text journal articles and other electronic-format materials can be freely accessed, read, and downloaded through the University Libraries' ResearchPort. When possible, stable links to these databases are included in the online version of the syllabus.

Amazon.com and Google Scholar have each initiated ambitious plans to digitize in full-text a wide range of scholarly publications. Some of the assigned monographs may be found on these sites.

There is no expectation that a student purchase all of the assigned books. Rather, you are encouraged to buy books that are most related to your interests and your writing assignments

Course Schedule

Jan. 30



Feb. 6

Framing the Field


Adelman, Jeremy, "Introduction" to his Colonial Legacies: The Problem of Persistence in Latin American History. New York: Routledge, 1999, pp. 1-13.

Jiménez, Michael F., "The Elision of the Middle Classes and Beyond: History, Politics, and Development in Latin America's 'Short Twentieth Century'" in Adelman's Colonial Legacies, pp. 207-228.

Mallon, Florencia, "The Promise and Dilemma of Subaltern Studies: Perspectives from Latin American History," American Historical Review 99:5 (December 1994): 1491-1515. [JSTOR]

Seigel, Micol, "Beyond Compare: Comparative Method after the Transnational Turn," Radical History Review 91 (Winter 2005): 62-90. [RHR Website]

Stern, Steve J., "Between Tragedy and Promise: The Politics of Writing Latin American History in the Late Twentieth Century," in Gilbert Joseph, ed., Reclaiming the Political in Latin American History (Duke University Press, 2001) 32-78.

Weinstein, Barbara, "Developing Inequality," Presidential Address at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, Washington, DC, January 5, 2008.


Feb. 13

Science, Eugenics, and Race


Bronfman, Alejandra. Measures of Equality: Social Science, Citizenship, and Race in Cuba, 1902-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Short Reading

Stepan, Nancy. The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991, 1-62.


Appelbaum, Nancy P. and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, eds., Race and Nation in Modern Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Borges, Dain, "'Puffy, Ugly, Slothful and Inert': Degeneration in Brazilian Social Thought, 1880-1940," Journal of Latin American Studies 25:2 (May 1993): 235-256.

Cueto, Marcos. Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Dávila, Jerry. Diploma of Whiteness: Race and Social Policy in Brazil, 1917-1945. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Graham, Richard, ed. The Idea of Race in Latin America: 1870-1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Rodriguez, Julia, "South Atlantic Crossings: Fingerprints, Science, and the State in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina," American Historical Review, 109:2 (April 2004): 387-416. [History Cooperative]

Schwarcz, Lilia Moritz. The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930. New York : Hill and Wang, [1993] 1999.

Skidmore, Thomas. Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.


Feb. 20

Culture and State-Making


Vaughan, Mary Kay. Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930-1940. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997.

Short Reading

Knight, Alan, "The Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist? Or just a 'Great Rebellion'?" Bulletin of Latin American Research 4:2 (1985): 1-37. [JSTOR]


Capelato, Maria Helena Rolim. Multidões em Cena: Propaganda Politica no Varguismo e no Peronismo. Sčo Paulo: Papirus, 1998.

Joseph, Gilbert and Daniel Nugent. Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994.

Joseph, Gilbert M., Alison Greene, Arthur Schmidt, and Emile McAnany, eds. Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico since 1940. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.

Knight, Alan, “Popular Culture and the Revolutionary State in Mexico, 1910-1940,” Hispanic American Historical Review 74:3 (Nov. 1994): 393-444.

Plotkin, Mariano Ben. MaĖana es San Perón: A Cultural History of Perón's Argentina. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2003.

Vaughan, Mary Kay and Stephen E. Lewis, eds. The Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920-1940. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Williams, Daryle. Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 1930-1945. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.

Feb. 27

Caribbean Modernities


Palmié, Stephan. Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.

Short Reading

David Scott, "Modernity that Predated the Modern: Sidney Mintz's Caribbean," History Workshop Journal 58:1 (2004): 191-210.


Turits, Richard. Foundations of Despotism: Peasants, the Trujillo Regime, and Modernity in Dominican History. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2002.


March 5

Popular Culture and the Culture Industries


McCann, Bryan. Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Short Reading

Levine, Robert M., "Elite Intervention in Urban Popular Culture in Modern Brazil," Luso-Brazilian Review, 21:2 (Winter 1984): 9-22. [JSTOR]


Dunn, Christopher. Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Moore, Robin Dale. Nationalizing Blackness: Afrocubanismo and Artistic Revolution in Havana, 1920-1940. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.

Rowe, William and Vivian Schelling. Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America. London: Verso, 1991.

Rubenstein, Anne. Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation: A Political History of Comic Books in Mexico. Duke University Press, 1998.

Wade, Peter. Music, Race, and Nation: Música Tropical in Colombia. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2000.

Zolov, Eric. Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.


March 12

Peasants and Land Struggles


Gould, Jeffrey L. To Lead As Equals: Rural Protest and Political Consciousness in Chinandega, Nicaragua, 1912-1979. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. [HAHR Website]

Short Reading

Gould, Jeffrey and Aldo Lauria-Santiago, "'They call us thieves and steal our wages': Toward a Reinterpretation of the Salvadoran Rural Mobilization, 1929-1931," Hispanic American Historical Review 84:2 (May 2004): 191-238.


Menchú, Rigoberta, Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, and Ann Wright. I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. New York: Verso, 1987.

Stoll, David and Arturo Arias, ed. The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy. University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

Warman, Arturo. We Come to Object: The Peasants of Morelos and the National State. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.

Welch, Cliff. The Seed Was Planted: The Sčo Paulo Roots of Brazil's Rural Labor Movement, 1924-1964. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Womack, John. Zapata and the Mexican Revolution. New York: Vintage, 1970.


March 26

Honor and Sexuality


Caulfield, Sueann. In Defense of Honor: Sexual Morality, Modernity, and Nation in Early Twentieth-Century Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Short Reading

Beattie, Peter M. “The House, the Street, and the Barracks: Reform and Honorable Social Space in Brazil, 1864-1945" Hispanic American Historical Review 76:3 (1996): 439-473. [JSTOR]


Balderston, Daniel and Donna Guy, eds. Sex and Sexuality in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Reader. New York: NYU Press, 1997.

Beattie, Peter M. The Tribute of Blood: Army, Honor, Race, and Nation in Brazil, 1864-1945. Durham: Duke University Press. 2001.

Besse, Susan K. “Crimes of Passion: The Campaign against Wife-Killing in Brazil, 1910-1940,” Journal of Social History 22:4 (Summer 1989): 653-666.

Bliss, Katherine Elaine. Compromised Positions: Prostitution, Public Health, and Gender Politics in Revolutionary Mexico City. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.

Caulfield, Sueann, Lara Putnam, Sarah C. Chambers, eds. Honor, Status, and Law in Modern Latin America. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Findlay, Eileen J. Suárez. Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999.

Green, James N., Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Guy, Donna J., Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family, and Nation in Argentina. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.


April 2 & 9

Gender and the Welfare State


Klubock, Thomas. Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile’s El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904-1951. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

Rosemblatt, Karin. Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920-1950. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Short Reading

Tinsman, Heidi. TBA

Raymond Williams. Marxism and Literature.


Dore, Elizabeth and Maxine Molyneux, eds. Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Farnsworth-Alvear, Ann. Dulcinea in the Factory: Myths, Morals, Men, and Women in Colombia's Industrial Experiment, 1905-1960. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Hutchinson, Elizabeth Quay. Labors Appropriate to Their Sex: Gender, Labor, and Politics in Urban Chile, 1900-1930. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.

Partners in Conflict: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Labor in the Chilean Agrarian Reform, 1950-1973. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.

Weinstein, Barbara. For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in Sčo Paulo, 1920-1964. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.


April 16 & 23

Populism and The Working Classes


James, Daniel. Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class, 1946-1976. New York: Cambridge University Press, [1988] 1994.

James, Daniel. DoĖa María's Story: Life History, Memory, and Political Identity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Short Readings

Laclau, Ernesto, "Toward a Theory of Populism," in his Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism (London: Verso, 1979), 143-198.

Emilia Viotti da Costa, "Experience versus Structures: New Tendencies in the History of Labor and the Working Class in Latin America - What Do We Gain? What Do We Lose?" and Responses International Labor and Working Class History 36:3 (Fall 1989): 1- 50.


French, John D. The Brazilian Workers' ABC: Class Conflict and Alliances in Modern Sčo Paulo. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

French, John and Daniel James, eds., The Gendered Worlds of Latin American Women Workers: From Household and Factory to the Union Hall and Ballot Box. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Levine, Robert M. Father of the Poor?: Vargas and his Era. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Winn, Peter. Weavers of Revolution: The Yarur Workers and Chile's Road to Socialism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.


April 30

Dirty Wars/Cold Wars


Grandin, Greg. The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Short Reading

TBA on Regimes of Exception


Blanton, Thomas and Gilbert M. Joseph, eds. In from the Cold: Latin America's New Encounter with the Cold War. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Fico, Carlos. Além do golpe: versões e controvérsias sobre 1964 e a ditadura militar. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2004.

Gleijeses, Piero. Shattered Hope. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Levenson-Estrada, Deborah. Trade Unionists Against Terror: Guatemala City, 1954-1985. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Poniatowska, Elena. Massacre in Mexico. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1992.

Power, Margaret. Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine Power and the Struggle Against Allende, 1964-1973. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.

Serbin, Kenneth P. Secret Dialogues: Church-State Relations, Torture, and Social Justice in Authoritarian Brazil. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.

Taylor, Diana. Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's "Dirty War." Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Winn, Peter and Rachel Schurman, eds. Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1972-2002. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.


May 7

Truth and Reconciliation


Stern, Steve J. Remembering Pinochet's Chile: On the Eve of London 1998. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.

Short Reading

Browse: "Truth Commissions: State Terror, History, and Memory" Special issue of Radical History Review 97 (Winter 2007) [RHR Website]


Dorfman, Ariel. Death and the Maiden. New York: Penguin, 1994.

Feitlowitz, Marguerite. A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Weschler, Lawrence. A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.