Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program

The Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Latin America and the Latino/a populations of the Americas. The program allows students to explore the multiplicity of cultures and societies of Latin and Latino/a America in ways that acknowledge the permeability, or absence, of borders. The program emphasizes knowledge of global politics, economies, cultures, and nations as theorized, imagined, and practiced through Latin/Latino/a America.



Correlate Sequence in Latin American and Latino/a Studies

Approved Courses


Latin American and Latino/a Studies: I. Introductory

103b. Conceptualizing Latin and Latino/a America (1/2)

An introduction to the basic concepts, theories, and methodologies necessary for the multidisciplinary study of Latin American and Latino communities. The focus of the course varies from year to year according to the topic selected by the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

104b. Conceptualizing Latin and Latino/a America (1/2)

An introduction to the basic concepts, theories, and methodologies necessary for the multidisciplinary study of Latin American and Latino communities. The focus of the course varies from year to year according to the topic selected by the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

105a. Conceptualizing Latin and Latino/a America (1)

An introduction to the basic concepts, theories, and methodologies necessary for the multidisciplinary study of Latin American and Latino communities. The focus of the course varies from year to year according to the topic selected by the instructor.

Topic for 2014/15a: To be announced. Ms. Offutt.

Two 75-minute periods.

106a. Dynamic Women: From Bachelet to Ugly Betty (1)

How do issues of inequality, social justice, representation, popular culture, migration, environmental justice and globalization look when women's voices and gender analysis are at the center? This multidisciplinary course examines writing by and about women in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino/a USA. We read and write about a range of genres --- from testimonio, film and fiction to social science. The goal is to develop an appreciation and understanding of the varied lives and struggles of Latinas and Caribbean women, the transnational politics of gender, key moments in the history of the hemisphere, and contemporary issues across the Americas. Ms. Carruyo.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

Latin American and Latino/a Studies: II. Intermediate

214b. Transnational Perspectives on Women and Work (1)

(Same as SOCI 214 and WMST 214) This class is a theoretical and empirical exploration of women's paid and unpaid labor. We examine how women's experiences as workers --- across space, place, and time --- interact with larger economic structures, historical moments, and narratives about womanhood. We pay particular attention to the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality and citizenship intersect and shape not only women's relationships to work and family, but to other women workers (at times very differently geopolitically situated). We are attentive to the construction of women workers, the work itself, and the meanings women give to production, reproduction, and the global economy. Ms. Carruyo.

Two 75-minute periods.

229a. Postcolonial Latin America (1)

(Same as HISP 229) Studies in Latin American literary and cultural production from the emergence of the nation states to the present. Thematically structured, the course delves into the social, political, and institutional processes undergone by Latin America as a result of its uneven incorporation into world capitalist development.

Topic for 2014/15a: El Cuento Rioplatense. The course discusses canonic Southern Cone authors such as Quiroga, Borges, Onetti, Cortázar, Benedetti and Valenzuela from a multidisciplinary perspective. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 or HISP 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

230b. Latina and Latino Literature (1)

(Same as ENGL 230) This literature engages a history of conflict, resistance, and mestizaje. For some understanding of this embattled context, we examine transnational migration, exile, assimilation, bilingualism, and political and economic oppression as these variously affect the means and modes of the texts under consideration. At the same time, we emphasize the invented and hybrid nature of Latina and Latino literary and cultural traditions, and investigate the place of those inventions in the larger framework of American intellectual and literary traditions, on the one hand, and pan-Latinidad, on the other. Authors studied may include Americo Paredes, Piri Thomas, Cherrie Moraga, Richard Rodriguez, Michelle Serros, Cristina Garcia, Ana Castillo, and Junot Diaz. Mr. Perez.

234a. Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

(Same as AFRS 234 and RELI 234) The Africa-derived religions of the Caribbean region---Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria, Jamaican Obeah, Rastafarianism, and others---are foundational elements in the cultural development of the islands of the region. This course examines their histories, systems of belief, liturgical practices, and pantheons of spirits, as well as their impact on the history, literature, and music of the region. Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

Two 75-minute periods.

240a. Cultural Localities (1)

Detailed study of the cultures of people living in a particular area of the world, including their politics, economy, worldview, religion, expressive practices, and historical transformations. Included is a critical assessment of different approaches to the study of culture. Areas covered vary from year to year and may include Europe, Africa, North America, and India.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Prerequisite: previous coursework in Anthropology or Latin American and Latino/a Studies or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

242a. Brazil: Society, Culture, and Environment in Portuguese America (1)

(Same as AFRS 242, GEOG 242, INTL 242) Brazil, long Latin America's largest and most populous country, has become an industrial and agricultural powerhouse with increasing political-economic clout in global affairs. This course examines Brazil's contemporary evolution in light of the country's historical geography, the distinctive cultural and environmental features of Portuguese America, and the political-economic linkages with the outside world. Specific topics for study include: the legacies of colonial Brazil; race relations, Afro-Brazilian culture, and ethnic identities; issues of gender, youth, violence, and poverty; processes of urban-industrial growth; regionalism and national integration; environmental conservation and sustainability; continuing controversies surrounding the occupation of Amazonia; and long-run prospects for democracy and equitable development in Brazil. Mr. Godfrey.

Not offered in 2014/15.

Two 75-minute periods.

243b. Mesoamerican Worlds (1)

(Same as ANTH 243) A survey of the ethnography, history, and politics of indigenous societies with deep historical roots in regions now located in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. This course explores the emergence of Mesoamerican states with a vivid cosmology tied to warfare and human sacrifice, the reconfiguration of these societies under the twin burdens of Christianity and colonial rule, and the strategies that some of these communities adopted in order to preserve local notions of identity and to cope with (or resist) incorporation into nation-states. After a consideration of urbanization, socio-religious hierarchies, and writing and calendrical systems in pre-contact Mesoamerica, we will focus on the adaptations within Mesoamerican communities resulting from their interaction with an evolving colonial order. The course also investigates the relations between native communities and the Mexican and Guatemalan nation-states, and examines current issues---such as indigenous identities in the national and global spheres, the rapport among environmental policies, globalization, and local agricultural practices, and indigenous autonomy in the wake of the EZLN rebellion. Work on Vassar's Mesoamerican collection, and a final research paper and presentation is required; the use of primary sources (in Spanish or in translation) is encouraged. Mr. Tavárez

Two 75-minute periods.

249b. Latino/a Formations (1)

(Same as AFRS 249 and SOCI 249) This course focuses on the concepts, methodologies and theoretical approaches for understanding the lives of those people who (im)migrated from or who share real or imagined links with Latin America and the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean. As such this course considers the following questions: Who is a Latino/a? What is the impact of U.S. political and economic policy on immigration? What is assimilation? What does U.S. citizenship actually mean and entail? How are ideas about Blackness, or race more generally, organized and understood among Latino/as? What role do heterogeneous identities play in the construction of space and place among Latino/a and Chicano/a communities? This course introduces students to the multiple ways in which space, race, ethnicity, class and gendered identities are imagined/formed in Latin America and conversely affirmed and/or redefined in the United States. Conversely, this course examines the ways in which U.S. Latina/o populations provide both economic and cultural remittances to their countries of origin that also help to challenge and rearticulate Latin American social and economic relationships. Mr. Alamo.

251b. Development and Social Change in Latin America (1)

(Same as SOCI 251) This course examines the ways in which Latin American and Caribbean nations have defined and pursued development and struggled for social change in the post World-War II era. We use country studies and development theories (including Modernization, Dependency, World-Systems, Feminist and Post-Structuralist) to analyze the extent to which development has been shaped by the tensions between local, national, and international political and economic interests. Within this structural context we focus on people and their relationships to each other and to a variety of issues including work, land, reproductive rights, basic needs, and revolution. Integrating structural analysis with an analysis of lived practice and meaning making allows us to understand development as a process that shapes, but is also shaped by, local actors. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2014/15.

253a. Children of Immigration (1)

(Same as SOCI 253) Immigration to the U.S. since the 1970s has been characterized by a marked and unprecedented increase in the diversity of new immigrants. Unlike the great migrations from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, most of the immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. in the last four decades have come from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. New immigration patterns have had a significant impact on the racial and ethnic composition and stratification of the American population, as well as the meaning of American identity itself. Immigrants and their families are also being transformed in the process, as they come into contact with various institutional contexts that can facilitate, block, and challenge the process of incorporation into the U.S. This course examines the impact of these new immigration patterns by focusing on the 16.4 million children in the U.S. who have at least one immigrant parent. Since 1990, children of immigrants - those born in the U.S. as well as those who are immigrants themselves - have doubled and have come to represent 23% of the population of minors in the U.S. In this course we study how children of immigrants are reshaping America, and how America is reshaping them, by examining key topics such as the impact of immigration on family structures, gender roles, language maintenance, academic achievement, and identity, as well as the impact that immigration reforms have had on access to higher education, employment, and political participation. This course provides an overview of the experiences of a population that is now a significant proportion of the U.S. population, yet one that is filled with contradictions, tensions and fissures and defies simple generalizations. Ms. Rueda.

255b. Global Political Economy (1)

(Same as INTL 255) This course explores competing visions of economic globalization, and uses these distinct frameworks to analyze the meaning, causes, extent, and consequences of globalization, with a particular focus on the relationships among global, national and local economic phenomena. What do we mean by globalization? What are the effects of globalization on growth, inequality, and the environment? How might international economic policy and the particular form(s) of globalization that it promotes help to explain the pace and form of urbanization? Who benefits from globalization, and who might be hurt? Why do economists and others disagree about the answers to these and related questions? This course explores some of the ways that interdisciplinary analysis might enrich our understanding of economic globalization. Mr. Koechlin.

Two 75-minute periods.

258b. Latin American Politics (1)

(Same as POLI 258) Drawing from political processes across several Latin American countries, this course will focus on conceptual debates regarding political representation and participation, political institutions, political culture, and political economy in the region. A major theme will be inequality. The course will examine historical-structural patterns, relationships among social, economic, and political conditions at the national, sub-national and regional levels, and important social and political actors and institutions. The course will also examine the evolution of US roles in Latin America. Ms. Hite.

Not offered in 2014/15.

Two 75-minute periods.

269b. Constructing School Kids and Street Kids (1)

(Same as EDUC 269 and SOCI 269) Students from low-income families and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds do poorly in school by comparison with their white and well-to-do peers. These students drop out of high school at higher rates, score lower on standardized tests, have lower GPAs, and are less likely to attend and complete college. In this course we examine theories and research that seek to explain patterns of differential educational achievement in U.S. schools. We study theories that focus on the characteristics of settings in which teaching and learning take place (e.g. schools, classrooms, and home), theories that focus on the characteristics of groups (e.g., racial/ethnic groups and peer groups), and theories that examine how cultural processes mediate political-economic constraints and human action. Ms. Rueda.

Not offered in 2014/15.

275a. Caribbean Discourse (1)

(Same as AFRS 275 and ENGL 275) Study of the work of artists and intellectuals from the Caribbean. Analysis of fiction, non-fiction, and popular cultural forms such as calypso and reggae within their historical contexts. Attention to cultural strategies of resistance to colonial domination and to questions of community formation in the post-colonial era. May include some discussion of post-colonial literary theory and cultural studies. Ms. Paravisini.

288a. The Politics of Language in Schools and Society (1)

(Same as AFRS 288, EDUC 288, and URBS 288) (Same as Africana Studies, Education, and Urban Studies 288) The United States is one of the most multilingual nations in the world, and, language is intimately connected to family and personal identity. This course explores how language, power, and ideology play out in public debate, state policy and educational justice movements. We examine the link between racism, language and national belonging by analyzing how Standard English, Black English (AAVE) and Spanish-English bilingualism are positioned as more or less "correct", or politicized and even policied. We then turn our eye to curriculum and education policy, examining how debates around language in the classroom. Finally we pose possibilities, and examine the politics of language in multilingual, hybrid and global contexts. What do debates about "correctness" in language obscure? How do our fears, hopes and longing for identity shape our beliefs about language in the classroom? How does the history of U.S. language politics inform our present? What does equitable language education policy look like? Why are these issues important to all citizens? Ms. Malsbary.

Prerequisite: EDUC 235 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2to1)

By special permission.

297a or b. Reading Course (1/2)

Topic for 297.02: Indigenous Mexico.

Topic for 297.03: Chronicles of the Conquest.

Topic for 297.04: Latino Writings.

Topic for 297.05: Socio-Political Thought in Latin America.

Topic for 297.06: Latin American Cinema.

Topic for 297.08: Syncretic Religions of the Caribbean and Latin American.

Topic for 297.09: The Legacy of the Plantation in Caribbean and Latin American.

Topic for 297.10: Cultures of the Amazon.

Topic for 297.11: Native Peoples of the Andes.

By special permission.

298a or b. Independent Research (1/2to1)

By special permission.

Latin American and Latino/a Studies: III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1/2)

Yearlong course 300-LALS 301.

301b. Senior Thesis (1/2)

Yearlong course LALS 300-301.

302a. Senior Thesis (1)

303a. Senior Project (1/2)

US Latino/a studies programs have their origins in the joining of university students with grassroots organizers to create multidisciplinary curricula and initiatives recognizing the contributions of Latino communities. A senior project reflects that spirit. In conjunction with two faculty members, one of whom must come from the LALS steering committee, students formulate a project topic based on continuing community-based work they have done during their Vassar years. The project might be rooted in the local Latino/a community, or from sustained work in Latin America. Students submit a proposal and bibliography, develop a work plan, and follow the same schedule as thesis writers. The senior project must go beyond a fieldwork experience, and requires a well-defined written analytical component.

Yearlong course 303-LALS 304.

304b. Senior Project (1/2)

Yearlong course LALS 303-304.

305b. Senior Project (1)

US Latino/a studies programs have their origins in the joining of university students with grassroots organizers to create multidisciplinary curricula and initiatives recognizing the contributions of Latino communities. A senior project reflects that spirit. In conjunction with two faculty members, one of whom must come from the LALS steering committee, students formulate a project topic based on continuing community-based work they have done during their Vassar years. The project might be rooted in the local Latino/a community, or from sustained work in Latin America. Students submit a proposal and bibliography, develop a work plan, and follow the same schedule as thesis writers. The senior project must go beyond a fieldwork experience, and requires a well-defined written analytical component.

This will serve as a 1-unit/1-semester option for a Latin American Studies Project. Special permission.

340b. Advanced Urban/Regional Studies (1)

Previous topics include: Ethnic Geography and Transnationalism and World Cities: Globalization, Segregation, and Defensive Urbanism.

>Not offered in 2014/15.

One 3-hour period.

351b. Language and Expressive Culture (1)

Not offered in 2014/15.

360b. Amerindian Religions and Resistance. (1)

Not offered in 2014/15.

363a. Revolution and Conflict in Twentieth-Century Latin America (1)

(Same as HIST 363) Revolution has been a dominant theme in the history of Latin America since 1910. This course examines the revolutionary experiences of three nations---Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. It examines theories of revolution, then assesses the revolutions themselves---the conditions out of which each revolution developed, the conflicting ideologies at play, the nature of the struggles, and the postrevolutionary societies that emerged from the struggles. Ms. Offutt.

Prerequisite: HIST 264 or permission of the instructor.

375a. Seminar in Women's Studies (1)

Not offered in 2014/15.

382a. Race and Popular Culture (1)

(Same as AFRS 382 and SOCI 382) This seminar explores the way in which the categories of race, ethnicity, and nation are mutually constitutive with an emphasis on understanding how different social institutions and practices produce meanings about race and racial identities. Through an examination of knowledge production as well as symbolic and expressive practices, we focus on the ways in which contemporary scholars connect cultural texts to social and historical institutions. Appreciating the relationship between cultural texts and institutional frameworks, we unravel the complex ways in which the cultural practices of different social groups reinforce or challenge social relationships and structures. Finally, this seminar considers how contemporary manifestations of globalization impact and transform the linkages between race and culture as institutional and intellectual constructs. Mr. Alamo.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 2-hour period.

383a. Nation, Race and Gender in Latin America and the Caribbean - Senior Seminar (1)

With a focus on Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean this course traces and analyzes the ways in which the project of nation building creates and draws upon narratives about race and gender. While our focus is on Latin America, our study considers racial and gender formations within the context of the world-system. We are interested in how a complicated history of colonization, independence, post-coloniality, and "globalization" has intersected with national economies, politics, communities, and identities. In order to get at these intersections we examine a range of texts dealing with policy, national literatures, common sense, and political struggle. Specific issues addressed include the relationship between socio-biological theories of race and Latin American notions of mestizage, discursive and material "whitening," the myth of racial democracy, sexuality and morality, and border politics. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2014/15.

384a. Indigenous Religions of the Americas (1)

(Same as ANTH 384) The conquest of the Americas was accompanied by various intellectual and sociopolitical projects devised to translate, implant, or impose Christian beliefs in Amerindian societies. This course examines modes of resistance and accommodation, among other indigenous responses, to the introduction of Christianity as part of larger colonial projects. Through a succession of case studies from North America, Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, the Andes, and Paraguay, we analyze the impact of Christian colonial and postcolonial evangelization projects on indigenous languages, religious practices, literary genres, social organization and gender roles, and examine contemporary indigenous religious practices. Mr. Tavarez.

Prerequisite: prior coursework in Anthropology or Latin American Latino/a Studies or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 2-hour period.

385a. Women, Culture and Development (1)

(Same as INTL 385, SOCI 385, and WMST 385) This course examines the ongoing debates within development studies about how integration into the global economy is experienced by women around the world. Drawing on gender studies, cultural studies, and global political economy, we explore the multiple ways in which women struggle to secure well-being, challenge injustice, and live meaningful lives. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2014/15.

387a and b. Latin American Seminar (1)

(Same as HISP 387) A seminar offering in-depth study of topics related to the literary and cultural history of Latin America. This course may be repeated for credit when the topic changes.

Topic for 2014/15a: Detective Fiction in Latin America. This seminar examines the unique literary origins and development of detective fiction in Latin America in different national, political, and cultural contexts to inquire how specific genres of detective fiction and film correspond to particular issues of organized crime, class and ethnic difference, governability, corruption, quotidian violence, urbanization, and the media across Latin America. Mr. Aronna.

Topic for 2014/15b: New Argentine Cinema. The seminar follows the appearance and development of the Argentine New Wave, from the mid-1990s to the present. These films have initiated a new direction in Argentine and Latin American film, as they try to find new narrative forms that symbolically articulate and transform the radical crises-cultural, national and economic-that neoliberalism and its aftermath brought to the Argentine landscape. In the process, new voices, ethnic communities, sexualities and social sensibilities emerge, questioning established ways of thinking and looking at the nation and its uneasy fragments. The emerging result has been a boom in production that publics and film festivals worldwide have recognized through accolade, prizes, worldwide distribution and critical praise. Films by auteurs such as Adrián Caetano, Martín Rejtman, Pablo Trapero, Lucrecia Martel will be discussed, bearing on themes such as the circulation of bodies and labor, nation, migration and globalization, memory and subjectivity, the eye vs. the gaze, the spheres and politics of social space, and the political unconscious of melodrama and allegory within the context of subalternity and the Third World. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 and one course above 216.

One 2-hour period.

388a. Latin American Economic Development (1)

(Same as ECON 388) This course examines why many Latin American countries started with levels of development similar to those of the U.S. and Canada but were not able to keep up. The course begins with discussions of various ways of thinking about and measuring economic development and examines the record of Latin American countries on various measures, including volatile growth rates, high income and wealth inequality, and high crime rates. We then turn to an analysis of the colonial and post-Independence period to examine the roots of the weak institutional development than could explain a low growth trajectory. Next, we examine the post WWII period, exploring the import substitution of 1970s, the debt crises of the 1980s, and the structural adjustment of the 1990s. Finally, we look at events in the past decade, comparing and contrasting the experience of different countries with respect to growth, poverty and inequality. Ms. Pearlman.

Prerequisites: ECON 100 and ECON 209.

389a. Identities and Historical Consciousness in Latin America (1)

(Same as ANTH 389) This senior seminar explores in a highly strategic fashion the emergence and constant renovation of historical narratives that have supported various beliefs and claims about local, regional, national and transnational identities in Latin America and Latino(a) societies since the rise of the Mexica and Inca empires until the present. By means of a variety of anthropological and historical approaches, we examine indigenous forms of historical consciousness and the emergence of new identity discourses after the Spanish conquest, major changes in collective identities before and after the emergence of independent nation-states, and some crucial shifts in national, regional and ethnic identity claims that preceded and followed revolutions and social movements between the late nineteenth century and the present. Students will complete an original research project, and the use of primary sources in Spanish or Portuguese is encouraged. Mr. Tavárez.

Prerequisite: Senior Seminar. Open to juniors with permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Research (1/2to1)

By special permission.