Socio-environmental history of Latin America

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Socio-environmental history of Latin America

  • Host University

    Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

  • Location

    Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile

  • Area of Study

    History, Latin American Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description
    The environmental history of Latin America is a new but flourishing historiographical field. It poses interesting questions about the region’s colonial history, the nationstate building processes, and Latin America’s integration to global markets and knowledge networks. Furthermore, the field engages with the structural social problems of the region’s development, such as poverty and socio-geographical inequalities. This course analyses the history of Latin America through the lens of environmental history integrating also crucial aspects of the social history of the region, namely rural history and the history of social movements. It focuses on the distinct and sometimes contested views about the region’s environment, paying attention to national and transnational agents, as well as local and indigenous actors, both male and female, who for too long have been depicted at the margins of Latin American and global histories.

    General objective
    By the end of the course the student should be able to critically discuss about:
    1. General problems of Latin America’s socio-environmental historiography
    2. The commodification of Latin American environments in the 18th -19th -20th centuries and its relation to empire and nation building processes.
    3. Conservationism thought and its problems and challenges in the region
    4. Contemporary environmental social movements 

    1. Concepts and historiography in the social and environmental history of Latin America
    2. Conquest and colonization.
    3. Commodification of nature in Latin American history
    4. Nation-State Building
    5. Conservation in Latin American history
    6. Environmentalism and Social Movements in Latin America

    1. Week 1: Introduction
    2. Week 2: Concepts, problems and historiography in the socio-environmental history of Latin America
    3. Week 3: First Encounters: conquest and colonization
    4. Week 4: Commodification of nature in Spanish America I (late colonial period)
    5. Week 5: State, Nation, and territory. Latin America in the 19th century
    6. Week 6: Commodification of nature in Latin America II (19th century)
    7. Week 7: Neo-colonialim? USA commercial empire in Central America
    8. Week 8: From Lamas to whales. Latin American Animal History
    9. Week 9: Mexican Revolution. The problem of land
    10. Week 10: Indigenismo. Land, people, and identity. 11. Week
    11: Conservationism in Latin America
    12. Week 12: Latin American socio-environmental risks 3
    13. Week 13: New Environmental and Social Movements.
    14. Week 14: Latin America in the Global world
    15. Week 15: Feedback- Overview

    1. Two essays ……………………………………………80%
    2. Participation weekly workshops …………………… 20%

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.


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