Spring, 2013
Womens Voices in Latin America

Mon/Wed 12:30PM-1:55PM
14 Week Schedule begins January 28



Prof. James Baer
Office: Bisdorf 252
Office Hours for Spring 2013: MW 10:00AM-11:00AM and TR 10:00AM-11:00AM, TR 2:00PM-2:30PM or by appointment
Office Telephone: (703) 933-3978   Secretary (703) 933-3974
Web Page:


Course Description

Modern Latin America will focus on the region between 1824 and the present focusing on the experiences of women in these independent nations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Topics will include state building, society, self identity, the military, economic development, gender and culture. The textbook focuses on the following countries: Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Chile. There will be two books assigned in addition to the text, and students will write a short book review on each. There will be two activities, with students participating on Discussion Board. Students are expected to do their own work, attend class, and participate in class activities and discussions. Students must be careful not to plagiarize when using internet or other sources, and any assignments with material taken directly from the internet or from other sources that are not properly cited will be given an grade of F. Attendance will be taken and will count as ten percent of the grade.

Assigned Books Required: (all are paperbacks)

1. Modern Latin America by Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith (main text)
2. Revolutionizing Motherhood The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard. Author looks at the dramatic success of ordinary women in opposing a brutal military regime in Argentina
3 . Child of the Dark, Carolina de Jesus. This is a dairy of a Rio de Janeiro slum (favela) dweller, and describes her daily life and difficulties.

Special Needs and Accommodations: Please speak to the instructor at the beginning of the semester about any special problems or needs. If you are asking for special accommodations based on a disability you should provide a disability data sheet, which you can get from a counselor for special needs.


Book Reviews (2) 10% each
Movie Review 10%
Midterm 15%
Class Presentation on Women: 10% (Women in Latin America)
Discussion Board Postings: "Introductions." , 19th century Mexican women (Santa Anna and His Wives),  Rigoberta Menchu 5% each
Final Exam 20%
Attendance: 10%

Study Guides Available:
(19th century study guide)
(Mexico/Cuba study guide)  
(Argentina, Brazil and Chile study guide)

(Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela study guide)

Assignments and Class Activities:

Week of Jan 28, and Jan 30: Introduction: Latin America in the 19th century. How did the different states emerge? What problems occurred in creating new nations? Examples of Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico and Central America. For next Tuesday’s class read Text Ch 1 and Ch 2, and post comments on Discussion Board regarding three Latin American countries. You will find the instructions in the Discussion Board link of Blackboard. It is titled "Introductions."

Week of Feb 4 and Feb. 6: Discussion Board Posting Due Feb 4 (5% of grade). South America after Independence. How did Argentina become a nation? Why was Rosas important? How does Brazil’s experience as a successful monarchy compare with other Latin American states? Read the article about 19th century Mexican women in the “Assignment” section of Blackboard, then post 100-200 words in response and comment on at least two other students’ responses.  (click here for 19th century study guide) Assignment for next class read Ch. 3, and post response on Discussion Board by Monday on Santa Anna and his Wives.

Week of Feb. 11 and Feb 13: Discussion Board Posting Due Feb. 11 (5 of grade)Topic: Mexico. Who was Santa Anna? How did Mexico lose one-half its territory to the United States? What was La Reforma? The Porfiriato and the Mexican Revolution. What did Porfirio Diaz accomplish? Why did the revolution start? How did it change Mexico? (click here for Mexico/Cuba study guide)  Assignment for next class: Read text, Ch.5. (Begin reading Revolutionizing Motherhood)

Week of Feb. 18 and Feb 20: Topic: Cuba and Castro. Castro How has Cuba’s relationship with the United States shaped its history? How does Castro compare to other Cuban leaders? What are important issues today in Cuba? What will happen after Castro? How does Cuba compare with other Caribbean nations? Assignment for next class: Read text, Ch 11, and view the video clip of Rigoberta Menchu at  Then for next class post your thoughts of about 100-200 words on the Discussion Board on how you think her Mayan roots have shaped her response to modern problems and respond to at least two other students’ comments. This posting must be made by class next Monday. Assignment for next week: Read Ch 4 in Text. (Continue reading Revolutionizing Motherhood.)

Week of Feb 25 and Feb 27: Discussion Board Post due on February 25 (5% of grade) Topic: Central America. How do the nations of Central America cope with poverty? Why has there been so much violence in the region? Sandinistas Discussion on Rigoberta Menchu. Assignment for next week: (Continue reading Revolutionizing Motherhood) Read Ch. in text.

March 4: Mid-term exam on Textbook, Ch 1,2,3,4 and 5 (19th century, Mexico, Cuba and Central America)

Mar. 6: Assignment instead of class: Watch movie, “The Official Story” and write 500 words answering the following questions: (1) To what extent is Alicia an innocent victim, like her daughter Gaby, and to what extent is she complicit and guilty of supporting the kidnapping of children by not asking questions of her husband? (2) Why is Alicia so shocked when she learns of her friend’s arrest and torture many years ago? (3) What is your opinion of Roberto as a government minister, as a husband and as a father? Assignment due on March 18 at 11:00 am

Week of Mar. 11 and 13, NO CLASSES: SPRING BREAK

Week of Mar. 18 and 20: Assignment on Movie due March 18 (10% of grade) Topic: Argentina in the late 19th and 20th century. Why did so many immigrants go to Argentina? How did Juan and Evita Peron redistribute the wealth? (click here for study guide) (For an optional assignment those interested may read my article on the Buenos Aires Rent strike and the role of women in the “Assignment” page on Blackboard.) For next week: Finish reading Revolutionizing Motherhood and complete the book review assignment (click here for book review assignments)

Mar. 25 and 27: Writing assignment due on Revolutionizing Motherhood March 20nd. (10% of grade).
Topic: Argentina in the 20th century: The “Dirty War,” the Malvinas War and return to democracy. What happened to melt down Argentina in the fall of 2001? Assignment for next week: Read text Ch. 10 

Week of April 1 and April 3:  Topic: Chile; Reform, Revolution and Repression. How did Chile’s democratic tradition break down with Salvador Allende? Should General Pinochet have been convicted of crimes against humanity?  How did women respond to the dictatorship? Assignment for next week: Read  Ch. 11 in text and read Child of the Dark. Then write a book review according to the assignment sheet. (click here for book review assignments)

Week of April 8 and April 10: Book review Child of the Dark due April 5 (10% of grade) Topic: Then: Brazil, from Monarchy to Republic. How did the Old Republic function? What was the role of coffee? Who was Getulio Vargas? Why did Brazil have twenty years of military dictatorship? Assignment for next week: Read Ch. 7 & 8 in text, and information on Bolivia. 

Week of April 15 and April 17: Topic: Venezuela and Colombia. What has been the role of violence in Colombia. How does Chavez compare to Castro?  Assignment for next week: Read Ch 6 in text.

Week of April 22 and April 24: Peru and Bolivia. How do these countries compare? What special problems do indigenous women face?  Revolution in Bolivia What has contributed to instability in these two countries?

Week of April 29 and May 1 Student presentations on Latin American women (10% of grade) Turn in 500-word summary in class by May 1. No late assignments accepted after May 1!

Monday, May 6: Final Exam (20% of grade) (Exam covers Ch 6-11 in the textbook)


Camila O'Gorman
The WWW-VL History Index
WestWeb: Spanish Borderlands and Southwestern History
 Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
 Select Internet Resources on Latin America
Reaction to Globalization in Argentina
History of the Favela