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Repression and Rights in Late Twentieth Century Latin America

Revolution, dictatorship, civil war, and armed resistance shaped the late twentieth century political and cultural history of Latin America. Focusing on the Cuban Revolution, Argentina’s Process of National Reorganization, the Guatemalan Civil War, and the Zapatista (EZLN) uprising in Mexico, this course examines practices of inclusion and exclusion, violent repression, demands for rights, and calls for justice. Among other questions, this course will ask: how do we understand experience, testimony, and memory in relation to violence and justice? How do appeals for international solidarity shape national and individual historical narratives? 

Over the course of the semester, we will develop interdisciplinary methodological approaches that draw from from History and Anthropology as well as Film, Performance, and Literary Studies to understand how ideas of justice and rights shaped political, cultural, and social movements in Latin America. In discussions and written analyses, we will consider sources that range from memoirs, testimonies, press accounts, and poetry to documentaries, films and music. We will place the four moments of conflict in transnational context by considering how participants in revolution, victims of repression, and advocates for rights drew from international precedents and shaped their narratives in appeals for solidarity. 


Required Texts (Available at Campus Bookstore and Library Course Reserve)

Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls: A Memoir (New York: Serpent's Tail, 2001)

Alicia Partnoy, The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival (New York: Cleis Press, 1998)

Elisabeth Burgos-Debray and Rigoberta Menchu, I Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, 2nd Edition (New York: Verso, 2010)


Course Expectations and Assignments

Readings, Participation and Facilitation (20%)
You must attend all meetings and participate actively in the discussion of all of the texts. Readings for this course vary in length; this means that you will need to plan your work accordingly. You are expected to engage with all of the readings and viewings. All texts are will be available on Blackboard (BB) or at Library Course Reserves (CR) and the campus bookstore.

Responses (15%)
At the end of every unit, you will bring to class a one page reading response. This essay should connect the texts and videos and be more analytical than reflective (see appended guidelines).

Midterm Essay (25%)
The midterm essay (5-6 pages) will ask you to consider the relationship between continental, national, and regional identity. One week before the due date, students will receive 2-3 prompts and choose one to develop for their essay. The essay should engage with 3-4 sources from the first two units. 

Final Paper (40%)
The final research paper (10-12 pages) will offer you to analyze sources beyond the syllabus. We will develop proposals, edit selections, and present topics as a class before the final draft is due. 


Schedule

Week 1  
Thursday 

  • Introduction to the course 


Unit 1: Outside of the Cuban Revolution

Week 2 
Tuesday

  • READ Thomas G. Paterson, “Chapter 1: Dependencies: Batista, Castro, and the United States,” “Chapter 6: Thunderstorms: Castro’s Granma Rebels and the Matthews Interview,” and “A Complete Break: How Did the United States Let This One Get Away?” in Contesting Castro (15-24, 69-80, 241-254 BB)

Thursday 

  • READ Castro, Fidel. “Address to the Intellectuals” (Link on BB)
  • READ Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Writes of Passage (xi-xii; 13-19; 84-96; 134-148 BB) 
  • WATCH Sabá Cabrera Infante, PM (Link on BB) 


Week 3 
Tuesday 

  • READ Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (ix-xvii, 1-45) 

Thursday 

  • READ Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (46-176) 


Week 4 
Tuesday 

  • READ  Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (177-317) 

Thursday 

  • READ Heberto Padilla, “In Hard Times” (Poem, BB) 
  • READ Stephen Gregory, “Literature and Revolution in Cuba: The Padilla Affair – 21 Years On,” in War and Revolution in Hispanic Literature (BB) 
  • Response DUE


Unit 2: Dictatorship and Democracy in Argentina

Week 5 
Tuesday 

  • READ Marguerite Feitlowitz, “Introduction: The Gentlemen’s Coup,” in A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (3-18 BB)

Thursday

  • READ Marguerite Feitlowitz, “A Lexicon of Terror,”  in A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (19-62 BB)


Week 6 
Tuesday 

  • READ Alicia Partnoy, The Little School (7-77)

Thursday 

  • READ Alicia Partnoy, The Little School (78-133)


Week 7 
Tuesday 

  • READ Diana Taylor, “You Are Here”: H.I.J.O.S. and the DNA of Performance  in The Archive and the Repertoire (161-189 BB) 
  • READ “Never Again” in The Argentina Reader (440-448 BB)

Thursday 

  • READ Diana Taylor, “Trapped in Bad Scripts: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,” in Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s “Dirty War” (183-222 BB) 
  • WATCH The Official Story (link on BB) 
  • Response DUE


Week 8  
Tuesday

  • First Page DUE for Peer-Editing Workshop 

Thursday

  • Midterm Essay DUE


Unit 3: Trauma and Testimony in Guatemala

Week 9 
Tuesday 

  • READ Arturo Arias, “Rigoberta Menchú’s History within the Guatemalan Context,” in The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (3-28 BB)

Thursday 

  • READ Mary Louise Pratt, I, Rigoberta Menchu and the “Culture Wars,” in The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (29-57 BB)


Week 10 
Tuesday 

  • READ Introduction, Chapters 14-22 in Elizabeth Burgos-Debray, I Rigoberta Menchu (xi-xxiii, 108-190)  

Thursday

  • READ Chapters 23-34 in Elizabeth Burgos-Debray, I Rigoberta Menchu (xi-xxiii, 191-289) 
  • Final Paper Proposal DUE


Week 11
Tuesday 

  • READ David Stoll, “Introduction,” Rigoberta Menhchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans (1-15 BB)
  • READ Jorge Skinner-Kleé, “About David Stoll’s Book Rigoberta Menhchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans” in The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (97-98 BB)
  • READ Eduardo Galeano “Let’s Shoot Rigoberta” in The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (99-102 BB) 


Thursday 

  • READ Victor D. Montejo, “Truth, Human Rights, and Representation: The Case of Rigoberta Menchú,” in The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (372-391 BB)
  • Response DUE


Unit 4: EZLN and Indigenous Rights in Mexico

Week 12 
Tuesday

  • READ John Womack, “Chiapas, The Bishop of San Cristobal, and the Zapatista Revolt,” in Rebellion In Chiapas (1-60 BB)

Thursday

  • READ “ENOUGH!: The Zapatista Declaration of War,” “Revolutionary Legislation: The EZLN's New Laws,” “The Zapatistas Are Indians, the Government Is Responsive: San Cristobal, Mexico City,” “Recognize Indian Rights and Stop the War,” in Rebellion In Chiapas (245-249, 250-256, 267-277, 363-370 BB)
  • Paper Outline DUE


Week 13 
Tuesday

  • READ Pedro Pitrarch, “The Zapatistas and the Art of Ventriloquism.” Journal of Human Rights (291-312 BB)
  • READ Tim Golden, “Rebels Determined 'to Build Socialism' in Mexico,” The New York Times (New York), January 4, 1994 (BB)
  • READ Tim Golden, “Mexican Rebels Are Retreating; Issues Are Not,” The New York Times (New York), January 5, 1994 (BB)
  • READ “The Peasants’ Revolt,” The Times (London), January 5, 1994 (BB)

Thursday

  • READ Cornelia Gräbner, “…where there is a lot of sound”: Resistance, Subjectivity and the Trilanguaging of the Media of Enunciation in Manu Chao’s Clandestino and Próxima Estación… Esperanza,” Liminalities (1-36 BB)
  • WATCH Manu Chao, “Clandestino,” “Próxima Estación,” and “Para Tod@s, Todo,” (Links and lyric translations on BB)
  • First page DUE


Week 14 
Tuesday 

  • READ Matthew Gutmann, “Beyond Resistance: Raising Utopias from the Dead in Mexico City and Oaxaca,” in New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico (305-324 BB)

Thursday 

  • READ Alan Knight, “Rethinking Histories of Resistance in Brazil and Mexico,” in New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico (325-354 BB)
  • Response DUE


Week 15 
Tuesday 

  • Presentations

Thursday

  • Presentations


Week 16 
Tuesday

  • Final Paper DUE