RCSSCI 360 - Social Science Junior Seminar
Section: 001 Political Struggles in Mexico: Seminar and Field Study
Term: WN 2009
Subject: RC Social Sciences (RCSSCI)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Upperclass standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

In the last 20 years, Mexico has moved from what novelist Mario Vargas Llosa once called Latin America's "perfect dictatorship" -- a political system dominated by a single party, the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI), from 1928 to 2000 -- to a system in which an opposition party candidate won the Presidency in 2000, no single political party controls Congress, different parties control different state governments, and the judiciary is beginning to manifest some independence. The southern border state of Chiapas -- and the Zapatista rebellion launched there on January 1, 1994 -- played an important part in these changes. But Chiapas -- Mexico's third most indigenous, and its most agrarian, poorest and (since 1994) most militarized state -- also demonstrates the limits of this transformation. Politics in Chiapas remains polarized and volatile, and the lives of its primarily rural population are extremely precarious. The Zapatistas and their international NGO allies are fostering important experiments in autonomous local government and rural economic development based on small farmer cooperatives connected to a global fair trade movement, eco-tourism, and more. Still the depopulation of the state -- much of it in the form of migration to the United States -- has never been more precipitous. In January 2006, migrants from Chiapas made up almost one quarter of those who passed through the CCAMYN shelter in Altar, Sonora, the town that is the staging point for the largest number of border crossings anywhere along the 2,000 mile US-Mexico border. These statistics tell us something important about the limitations of such “alternative development” efforts. The limits of Mexico's democratization are also evident in the violence unleashed by the Governor of Oaxaca against the teachers' union there, and in the still-disputed outcome of the presidential election of 2006. This course will explore these developments during the Winter term.
In the first two weeks of May, 12 students will participate in a two-week field trip to Chiapas, Oaxaca and Mexico City. In Chiapas, we will meet with Mexican and international NGOs working on a wide variety of issues: globalization, rural development, militarization, and migration. We will also spend several days in the countryside, visiting Zapatista communities to discuss their efforts to create autonomous and democratic municipal governments in the areas where they have strength, and farmer coops that produce coffee for fair trade organizations. In Oaxaca we will meet with representatives of the teachers' union (SNTE/CNTE), students from the Benito Juarez Autonomous University, APPO activists, and human and indigenous rights organizations. In the national capital, we will visit the Mexican Congress and meet with representatives of the three major political parties. We will also talk with supporters of the "shadow government" formed by PRD Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as well as people who participated in La otra campaña.

RCSSCI 360 - Social Science Junior Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
4RC Ugrd
MW 10:00AM - 12:00PM
002 (SEM)
WF 11:00AM - 12:30PM
003 (SEM)
W 10:00AM - 12:00PM
004 (SEM)
Tu 2:00PM - 5:00PM
Note: Course will be tuaght at the Detroit Center, as part of the Semester in Detroit.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
Two books have been ordered from Shaman Drum for this course: Enrique Krauze, Mexico: A Biography of Power (1997) and Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization (1996). These are both worth buying. There is also a do-it-yours
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