Introduction to Contemporary Latin America

The details
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
14 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA T711 Latin American Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA T721 Latin American Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA T731 Latin American Studies,
BA T7N3 Latin American Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7N2 Latin American Studies with Business Management,
BA T7N4 Latin American studies with Business Management (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7M8 Latin American studies with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7M9 Latin American Studies with Human Rights

Module description

This first-year half-module explores life in contemporary Latin America through major trends and processes that have shaped the region from the second half of the 20th century up to the present day. Taught by academics who are experts in different fields, the module brings Latin America into focus through an interdisciplinary lens. As such, you will gain perspectives and methodologies from a broad range of studies and concepts, drawn from economics, politics, art history, literature, as well as sociology, contemporary history, and human rights.

Each week's lecture and seminar provide an opportunity to explore and discuss a specific core topic. These topics will span diverse issues, such as the impact of globalisation and neoliberalism; the struggle for democratisation; the shifting trends of migration; conflicts over extraction and the environment; among others. As well as engaging with primary materials and academic texts, we will also examine ways that cultural production of Latin America and the Caribbean addresses the topics explored in the module, by engaging with music, documentaries, literature and artworks, including those held at Essex's unique on campus resource, the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), a major art collection outside Latin America.

You do not need to know anything about Latin America to do this half-module. All you need is an interest in learning more about recent trends and processes that have shaped contemporary Latin American life.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

• To introduce students to some of the broad social, cultural, economic, and political processes and trends that have shaped contemporary Latin America;
• To introduce students to the ways that artists, writers and film-makers have engaged with these trends and processes;
• To foster understanding about the links between micro-and macro processes and the similarities and differences in the ways they are lived in different Latin American countries;
• To encourage students to think in an interdisciplinary way, drawing on core concepts from relevant disciplines.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should have:

* An interdisciplinary understanding of core trends and processes that have shaped contemporary Latin America, as well as knowledge of some recent works of art, literature, and film that cast light on the these;
* A preliminary grasp of comparative reasoning and of the links between macro- and micro-processes.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a one hour lecture and one-hour class/seminar each week. All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching. Week 21 is Reading Week.


  • Mahler, Anne Garland. (no date) 'The Writer as Superhero: Fighting the Colonial Curse in Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao', in Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. (2) , pp.119-140
  • McGuirk, Justin. (2014) 'Torre David : A Pirate Utopia', in Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture, London: Verso.
  • Gigoux, Carlos. (2017) 'Latin America', in Indigenous peoples and colonialism: global perspectives, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Feitlowitz, Marguerite. (c2011) A lexicon of terror: Argentina and the legacies of torture, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Andy Baker and David Cupery. (2013) 'ANTI-AMERICANISM IN LATIN AMERICA: Economic Exchange, Foreign Policy Legacies, and Mass Attitudes toward the Colossus of the North', in Latin American Research Review: The Latin American Studies AssociationThe Latin American Studies Association. vol. 48 (2) , pp.106-130
  • Bray, R. S. (2011-10-01) 'Teresa Margolles's Crime Scene Aesthetics', in South Atlantic Quarterly. vol. 110 (4) , pp.933-948
  • Jelin, Elizabeth. (2007-03-01) 'Public Memorialization in Perspective: Truth, Justice and Memory of Past Repression in the Southern Cone of South America', in International Journal of Transitional Justice. vol. 1 (1) , pp.138-156
  • Munck, Ronaldo. (2012) 'Introduction: Settings and Issues', in Contemporary Latin America, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Fregoso, Rosa Linda; Bejarano, Cynthia L. (c2010) Terrorizing women: feminicide in the Américas, Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.
  • Salvador Martí i Puig. (2010) 'The Emergence of Indigenous Movements in Latin America and Their Impact on the Latin American Political Scene: Interpretive Tools at the Local and Global Levels', in Latin American Perspectives: Sage Publications, Inc.Sage Publications, Inc. vol. 37 (6) , pp.74-92
  • Marc Becker. (2008) 'Correa, Indigenous Movements, and the Writing of a New Constitution in Ecuador', in Latin American Perspectives: Sage Publications, Inc., pp.47-62
  • Davis, Darién J. (c2007) 'Hip-Hop and Black Public Spheres in Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil', in Beyond Slavery: The Multilayered Legacy of Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean, Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Hillman, Richard S.; D'Agostino, Thomas J. (2011) 'Latin America: A Geographic Preface', in Understanding Contemporary Latin America, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • (2014) Cities from scratch: poverty and informality in urban Latin America, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Holden, Robert H.; Villars, Rina. (2013) 'What is Latin America?', in Contemporary Latin America, Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Díaz, Junot. (1996) Drown, London: Faber and Faber.
  • (no date) VIDEO: Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
  • Andrews, George Reid. (2004) 'Introduction', in Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • MABEL MORAÑA. (2008) 'NEGOTIATING THE LOCAL: THE LATIN AMERICAN "PINK TIDE" OR WHAT'S LEFT FOR THE LEFT?', in Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Revue canadienne des études latino-américaines et caraïbes: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean StudiesTaylor & Francis, Ltd. vol. 33 (66) , pp.31-41
  • Malavet, Pedro A. (2004) 'The Legal Relationship between Puerto Rico and the Estados Unidos de Norteamérica (United States of America)', in America's colony: the political and cultural conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico, New York: New York University Press.
  • NEWS ARTICLE: Brazil's haircare queen: From shantytown to millionaire - BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35932532
  • Tom Angotti. (2013) 'Introduction: Urban Latin America: Violence, Enclaves, and Struggles for Land', in Latin American Perspectives: Sage Publications, Inc.Sage Publications, Inc. vol. 40 (2) , pp.5-20
  • Burdick, John. (c2012) 'Social Movements in Latin America: The Power of Regional and National Networks', in Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America, Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
  • Mercedes Olivera and Victoria J. Furio. (2006) 'Violencia Femicida: Violence against Women and Mexico's Structural Crisis', in Latin American Perspectives: Sage Publications, Inc.Sage Publications, Inc. vol. 33 (2) , pp.104-114
  • Gigoux, Carlos. (2017) 'Dispossession in South America', in Indigenous peoples and colonialism: global perspectives, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • ART PROJECT: Ursula Biemann & Paulo Tavares, Forest Law (2014), https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/forest-law
  • Kaiser, Susana. (2002) 'Escraches: demonstrations, communication and political memory in post-dictatorial Argentina.', in Media, Culture & Society.. vol. 24 (4)
  • Díaz, Junot. (2009) The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao, London: Faber.
  • WEBSITE: La Torre de David, http://latorrededavid.blogspot.co.uk/
  • Thomas Angotti. (1996) 'Latin American Urbanization and Planning: Inequality and Unsustainability in North and South', in Latin American Perspectives: Sage Publications, Inc.Sage Publications, Inc. vol. 23 (4) , pp.12-34
  • Burbach, Roger, Michael Fox, and Federico Fuentes. (2013) 'Globalization, neoliberalism, and the rise of the social movements', in Latin America's turbulent transitions: the future of twenty-first century socialism, London: Zed Books.
  • Gigoux, Carlos. (2017) 'Colonial control of indigenous peoples in Latin America', in Indigenous peoples and colonialism: global perspectives, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Rosa-Linda Fregoso, Cynthia Berjano. (c2010) 'A Cartography of Feminicide in Latin America', in Terrorizing women: feminicide in the Américas, Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Reading Summary (400 words)    20% 
Coursework   Reading Summary (500 words)    25% 
Coursework   Essay 1 (1000 words)    25% 
Coursework   Essay 2 (1500 words)    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Blackmore, email: lisa.blackmore@essex.ac.uk.
Various teaching staff throughout the University.
Email: istudies@essex.ac.uk Office: 6.130 (Academic Support Hours are displayed on office doors)



External examiner

Dr James Scorer
University of Manchester
Senior Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies
Available via Moodle
Of 19 hours, 19 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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