SPANISH 438 - Political and Economic Thought in Latin America/Spain
Section: 004
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Spanish (SPANISH)
Department: LSA Romance Languages & Literatures
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
Enforced Prerequisites:
Nine credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399; or two RCLANG 324 and six credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course will study the symbiosis of politics, economy and ideology, in the making of modern Latin America.


The course will be divided in three parts:

Part One

How is the notion of discourse connected with the construction of modern Latin America? A careful analysis of two chapters of William Williamson’s Penguin History of Latin America, together with a well-known romantic film Camila (1989), by María Luisa Bemberg on mid-nineteenth-century Argentinian estanciero society, will help us explore the formation of the Latin American liberal national state, as well as the organization of free trade, from the 1860s up until the first decades of the twentieth century.

Part Two

By the 1930s, and due to a pervasive economic and social crisis, Liberalism had been intellectually discredited, even though there was no single ideology that would effectively take its place in the following decades. From the plethora of ideologies that opposed Liberalism and its free-trade policies, and competed to occupy the vacuum Liberalism had left in Latin America, students will be exposed to three key ideological discourses. First, Populism, as Juan Domingo Perón developed it in a legendary speech he gave to the Argentinian Chamber of Commerce, in 1947. Second, Socialism, as the legendary Ernesto “Che” Guevara proposed it in his essay on “Socialism and the New Man” (1965). Third, the Theory of Dependency, as explored in Andre Gunder Frank’s essay “The Development of Underdevelopment” (1966), and brilliantly interpreted by Guillo Pontecorvo in his film Queimada (1969). Since the beginning of the 1960s, Dependency Theory would change Latin Americans’ understanding of their position in the world, for it challenged the classic Liberal doctrine of comparative advantage, which had for so long provided a rationale for the export-economies

Part Three

As a way to reflect on the ideological discussions on present-day Neoliberalism, the course will move on to study the connections between literature and military Authoritarianism. We will read Death and the Maiden (1991), a powerful political drama and psychological thriller by the noted Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman.

Counteracting neoliberal policies and technocratic dictatorship as a means of radically restructuring the economy, we will also study Liberation Theology and Anticolonialism as two ideological movements deeply committed to fight poverty exacerbated by social and racial injustice in the region. We will reflect on some excerpts of A Theology of Liberation, one of the movement’s most famous books, written in 1971 by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez. Anticolonialism, on the other hand, a concept dear to Pontecorvo’s films, refers to the undoing of Colonialism. It also updates Dependency Theory in its critique of unequal relations of politics whereby one people or nation establishes and maintains dependent territory over another. We will finish the course with a discussion of the ideological tenets of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth (1961).

    Basic Bibliography
  • William Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.
  • Juan Domingo Perón, “The People Want to Know What It Is All About”, Speech given before the Argentine Chamber of Commerce, August 1947.
  • Ernesto “Che” Guevara, “Socialism and Man in Cuba”, March 12, 1965.
  • Aariel Dorfman Death and the Maiden, London: Nick Hern Books, 1991.
  • Andre Gunder Frank, "Development of Underdevelopment", New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966.
  • Gustavo Gutiérrez, excerpts of A Theology of Liberation. New York: Orbis, 1973.
  • Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press, 2004.

This course counts as elective credit toward the Spanish minor.

Course Requirements:

Midterm take-home (six pages) (35%)

Final take-home (six pages) (35%)

Interview (20%)

Class participation (10%)

SPANISH 438 - Political and Economic Thought in Latin America/Spain
Schedule Listing
004 (LEC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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