Thursday, January 09, 2014

Syllabus: Latin America and the World, Spring 2014

Latin America and the World

Professor Patrick Iber
Spring 2014 / MWF 11AM-12  / 88 Dwinelle

If anything knits together the diverse region known as Latin America, it is a shared experience of imperialism and neo-imperialism on the world stage. This course will examine the ways in which the nations of Latin America have managed that fate: resisting it, embracing it, and trying to reform it. We will examine cases of clear interventions by foreign empires, from France in nineteenth-century Mexico to the U.S. in Central America and Chile in the late twentieth. But we will also look at more subtle forms of economic and cultural influence, and consider the ways that Latin American nations from Cuba to Costa Rica tried to limit the power of the U.S. and project their own influence. We will end with a discussion of transnational issues in contemporary Latin America, including the drugs trade. Class will feature frequent student-led debates.

Course texts:

Stephen Rabe, The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Gobat, Michel.  Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua Under U.S. Imperial Rule.  Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2005, $27.

Emily S. Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), $21.

Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006, $19.

Piero Gleijeses, The Cuban Drumbeat, Chicago: Seagull Books, 2009, $15.

Ioan Grillo. El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2012, $18.

Your grade will be based on the following:
20% reading journals. As you do the course readings, keep a running log of your reactions. Each week, you should write a couple of paragraphs in response (200-300 words), explaining reactions, responses, and questions raised by the readings. You can skip writing your reaction (but not the reading!) in two weeks out of the semester without penalty. Your journals will be collected twice: once in the middle of the term, and again at the end.

20% Debate brief. Once during the semester, each student will be responsible for writing an elaborate debate brief, of 5-7 pages, based on that week’s readings. The brief should have three parts: it should lay out the debate position you are defending, explain the most powerful rebuttals to your argument, and finally feature a counter-rebuttal in which you attempt to respond to those arguments. Students who prepare briefs will then lead teams during the in-class debate.

20% Debate participation.

20% Group WikiLeaks projects. The WikiLeaks document release contained interesting material about Latin America, and it has made possible a partial understanding of the techniques and limitations of U.S. diplomacy in the region in very recent years. You will sign up to analyze one country. With the other people signed up for the same country, you will develop a presentation for the class that excerpts the most important parts of leaked documents and explains the overall picture of U.S.-Latin American relations that emerges from them. Presentations will be given in class during week 13, and during RRR week if necessary.

20% final. As required in all “100” courses, there is an in-class final. Ours is scheduled for Tuesday May 13, from 7-10PM.

Course schedule:

Week 1: Introduction

W, Jan. 22: Introduction to the class, syllabus
F, Jan. 24: Discussion


“Introduction,” 3-12 in George Lichtheim, Imperialism, (New York: Praeger, 1971).

“Imperialism as a Special Stage of Capitalism,” in V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, (New York: International Publishers, 1939).

Rabe, Killing Zone, “Introduction”

Discussion: What is the most useful definition of imperialism for the purposes of thinking about the relationship of the U.S. to Latin America?

Week 2, Foreign Empire and the Creation of Latin America
M, Jan 27: The international system and Latin American independence; plus Mexican wars: U.S. & France
W, Jan 29: Class discussion of readings, led by instructor
F, Jan 31: NO CLASS


John Leddy Phelan, “Pan-Latinism, French Intervention in Mexico (1861-1867) and the genesis of the idea of Latin America,” in Conciencia y autenticidad históricas: escritos en homenaje a Edmundo O’Gorman, J. Ortega y Medina, ed., Mexico City, UNAM, 1968.

Leslie Bethell, “Brazil and ‘Latin America,’” Journal of Latin American Studies 42, 457-485.

Discussion: How has empire shaped the concept of Latin America?

Week 3, The Rise of the United States

M, Feb 3: Video: The Gringo in Mañanaland
W, Feb 5: Primary document analysis: Latin America in Caricature
F, Feb 7: The Rise of the US: Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico


Rabe, The Killing Zone, “Roots of Cold War Interventions,” pp. 1-20

Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream, pp. 1-161

Week 4: New Strategies for Informal Empire
M, Feb. 10: The Good Neighbor Policy
W, Feb. 12: Debate
F, Feb. 14: Pan-Americanism in Wartime


Gobat, Confronting the American Dream, 1-17, 150-280

Debate: U.S. intervention left a dictatorship in Nicaragua, not a democracy. Was this the result of intended or unintended consequences at work?

Week 5: Pan-Americanism
M, Feb. 17: NO CLASSES
W, Feb. 19: Movie: Saludos Amigos
F, Feb. 21: Debate


Rabe, The Killing Zone, “The Kennan Corollary,” pp. 21-35

“The alliance for modernization,” pp. 109-136 and “Resistance communities,” 137-159 in Thomas O’Brien, The Revolutionary Mission: American Enterprise in Latin America, 1900-1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream, 162-234

Debate: Should the Good Neighbor Policy be a model for today’s inter-American relations?

Week 6: Guatemala
M, Feb. 24: The Origins of Latin America’s Cold War
W, Feb. 26: Bananas and Empire
F, Feb. 28: Debate

Rabe, Killing Zone, “Guatemala—The Mother of Interventions,” 36-58

Cullather, Secret History

Debate: What was the most important cause in the overthrowing of Jacobo Arbenz: U.S. government pressure or the actions and beliefs of conservatives in Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America?

Week 7: Managing Empire for Fun and Profit
M, Mar. 3: The Country that Shouldn’t Exist: Costa Rica
W, Mar. 5: The Bolivian Revolution
F, Mar. 7: Debate


Kyle Longley, “Peaceful Costa Rica, the first Battleground: The United States and the Costa Rican Revolution of 1948,” The Americas 50, no. 2 (October 1993): 149-175.

Steven Schwartzberg, “Romulo Betancourt: From a Communist Anti-Imperialist to a Social Democrat with US Support,” Journal of Latin American Studies 29, no. 3 (October 1997): 613-665.

Patrick Iber, “‘Who will impose democracy?’: Sacha Volman and the Contradictions of CIA Support for the Anticommunist Left in Latin America,” Diplomatic History.

Debate: Did the Anti-Communist Left represent a real opportunity during the Cold War, or did its alliance with the U.S. fatally compromise its ability to enact left-wing change?

Week 8: The making of Cuba

M, Mar 10: Film: Triumph of the Cuban Revolution
W, Mar. 12: The U.S., the Cuban Revolution, and the New Left
F, Mar. 14: Icons of Revolution

No reading this week: get together with your group to work on your WikiLeaks projects.

Week 9, Cuba at Home and Abroad
M, Mar. 17: Steven Soderbergh, Che [Part II]
W, Mar. 19: Steven Soderbergh, Che [Part II]
F, Mar. 21: Debate

Rabe, Killing Zone, “War Against Cuba,” pp. 59-84

Gleijeses, The Cuban Drumbeat

Debate: Was U.S. diplomacy against Cuban interests more successful than Cuban diplomacy against U.S. interests, or the other way around?

March 24-28: SPRING BREAK

Week 10: Chile
M, Mar. 31: Cold War, internal and external
W, Apr. 2: Revisiting La Batalla de Chile
F, Apr. 4: Debate

Rabe, Killing Zone, “No More Cubas,” and “Military Dictators: Cold War Allies,” pp. 85-143

“Project FUBELT,” pp. 1-35, 47-48, 58-59 and “Destabilizing Democracy: The United States and the Allende Government,” pp. 79-115, 138-139, 146-149 in Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, (New York: New Press, 2003).

Fermandois, Joaquin.  “The persistence of a myth: Chile in the eye of the Cold War hurricane.”  World Affairs 167, no. 3 (Winter 2005), 101-112.

Tanya Harmer, “Brazil’s Cold War in the Southern Cone, 1970-1975,” Cold War History 12, no. 4 (2012): 659-681.

Debate: Should Henry Kissinger be prosecuted for crimes against humanity because of his role in destabilizing the Allende government?

Week 11: Central America
M, Apr. 7: Nicaragua
W, Apr. 9: Guatemala
F, Apr. 11: Debate

Rabe, Killing Zone, “Cold War Horrors—Central America,” pp. 144-174

Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions, 242-255, 271-304, 312-318, 353-358, 362-368

Oñate, Andrea. “The Red Affair: FMLN-Cuban Relations during the Salvadoran Civil War, 1981-1992,” Cold War History 11, no. 2 (2011): 133-154.

Debate: Would the outcomes of the Central American conflicts of the 1980s have been different in the absence of outside interference?

Week 12: Transnational Crime in Latin America
M, Apr. 14: Colombia
W, Apr. 16: Mexico
F, Apr. 18: Debate

Grillo, El Narco, pp. 109-291

Debate: Should the U.S. legalize drugs in order to lessen the suffering associated with cartelized trade?

Week 13: WikiLeaks Group Projects
M, Apr. 21: Group presentations
W, Apr. 23: Group presentations
F, Apr. 25: Group presentations

Week 14: Latin America and the World
M, Apr. 28: ALBA diplomacy
W, Apr. 30: Another BRIC in the Wall
F, May 2: Summing up

Rabe, Killing Zone, “Aftermath,” 175-195

More readings will be announced, based on current events

RRR Week, May 5-9, may feature group presentations if necessary.

Final Exam: Tuesday May 13, 7-10PM

Syllabus: Artists, Intellectuals, and Social Change in Latin America, Spring 2014

Artists, Intellectuals, and Social Change in Latin America

Professor Patrick Iber
Spring 2014 / 2303 Dwinelle / F 2-4PM

Latin American history has featured horrific dictatorships and turbulent revolutions. In spite of this instability, or perhaps because of it, the region has also consistently produced one first-class export: the work of its artists, writers, and intellectuals. This course looks at the myth and reality of Latin American intellectuals—often said to be more influential politically than in any other region of the world—over the course of the region’s modern history. (Gabriel García Márquez once quipped that “In the history of power in Latin America, there are only military dictatorships or intellectuals.”) How have Latin American artists and writers used their cultural production to expose injustice?  When have those attempts made things better, and when worse?  By looking at the historical literature—supplemented with poetry, memoir, painting, and film—this course will examine the important role of Latin American intellectuals in creating social change in the region.

Course texts:

Angel Rama, The Lettered City, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, ~$22.

Jorge Coronado, The Andes Imagined: Indigenismo, Society, and Modernity, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, ~$27.

Jorge Castañeda, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara, New York: Vintage, 1998, ~$15. (Kindle edition available for $12.)

Jorge Edwards, Persona non grata: A Memoir of Disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution, New York: Nation Books, 2004. Kindle edition is available for $10, and many used copies for $1 and up.)

David Craven, Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910-1990, 2nd edition, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006, $30.

Salman Rushdie, The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey, New York: Random House, 2008, $14.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, The Accidental President of Brazil, New York: PublicAffairs, 2007, $12.

Presentation: Starting in week 3, our discussion will be led by a student who has prepared a short presentation of approximately10-15 minutes, drawing out the major questions raised by the week’s readings.  Presentations should be practiced and polished, and end by posing one or two central questions to begin discussion.

For the rest of your grade, you should write approximately 20 pages.  You can choose how to distribute those pages either as a) five short review papers; b) a mixture of review papers and a shorter final; or c) a long final.

  • Short review papers of approximately four pages are to be turned in before class in any week of the quarter.  You are free to write in the form that you choose, but each paper should be an essay that relates that week’s reading to at least one of the major themes of the course: intellectual responsibility, the relationship of events to the formation of political opinion, or the impact of the intellectual on politics, etc.
  • Whether short or long, I suggest two formats for final papers but I am open to alternate plans.  The first suggestion is to find an intellectual or literary review and examine it in its most important year(s).  What was its project, politically and aesthetically?  What did it expect to achieve its goals?  Who contributed to it and why?  As a useful exercise, I would encourage you to do this without consulting the secondary literature. An alternative final paper structure would involve writing a short biography of an intellectual of interest to you.
  • All writers who strive to write good prose would do well to read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” at least once a year:

Your grade will be calculated as 20% discussion; 20% presentation; 60% papers.

Week 1, January 24: The problems of Latin American intellectuals

To read and discuss in class:

Charles Kurzman and Lynn Owens, “The Sociology of Intellectuals,” Annual Review of Sociology 28 (2002): 63-90.

Week 2, January 31: The Lettered City

Ángel Rama, The Lettered City

Week 3, February 7: The making of the modern

Nicola Miller, “Intellectuals and the Modernizing State in Spanish America,” and “From Ariel to Caliban: Anti-imperialism among Spanish-American Intellectual,” In the Shadow of the State: Intellectuals and the Quest for National Identity in Twentieth-Century Spanish America, pp. 43-94, 174-209

José Enrique Rodó, Ariel, 31-32, 70-101

Mauricio Tenorio, “Stereophonic Scientific Modernisms: Social Science between Mexico and the United States, 1880s-1930s,” The Journal of American History 86, no. 3, (Dec. 1999): 1156-1187.

Week 4, February 14: Nation, State, and Revolution

David Craven, Art and Revolution in Latin America, Introduction and The Mexican Revolution, pp. 1-73

Helen Delpar, “Mexican Culture, 1920-1945,” pp. 543-572 from The Oxford History of Mexico

Deborah Cohn, “The Mexican Intelligentsia, 1950-1968: Cosmopolitanism, National Identity, and the State,” Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos 21, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 141-182.

Week 5, February 21: Reinventing Marxism without a Proletariat

Jorge Coronado, The Andes Imagined

Week 6, February 28: Theories of Dependency

Joseph Love, “Economic ideas and ideologies in Latin America since 1930,” from Ideas and Ideologies in Twentieth-Century Latin America, 207-274

Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Falletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America, pp. vii-xxv

André Gunder Frank, “Foreign Investment in Latin American Underdevelopment,” in Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil, pp. 281-318

Week 7, March 7: The Cuban Dilemma

Film in class: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Memories of Underdevelopment

There is no reading this week, but next week’s book is long so get started.

Week 8, March 14: Making heroes into intellectuals

Jorge G. Castañeda, Compañero

March 24-28: SPRING BREAK

Week 9, March 21: The Culture of Solidarity

Craven, “The Cuban Revolution,” 75-116

Mario Vargas Llosa, “Literature is Fire”

Jean Franco, “Liberated Territories,” from The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City, 86-117 [available in electronic form through oskicat]

Roberto Fernández Retamar, “Calibán: Notes Towards a Discussion of Culture in Our America,” in Caliban and Other Essays, 3-45

Week 10, April 4: The Pain of Solidarity

Jorge Edwards, Persona non grata

Heberto Padilla, Fuera del juego, “En tiempos difíciles,” “Los poetas cubanos ya no sueñan,” and “Fuera del juego”

Week 11, April 11: Theology of Liberation

Enrique Dussel, “A note on liberation theology,” from Ideas and Ideologies in Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, 275-285

David Craven, “The Nicaraguan Revolution,” 117-175

Rushdie, The Jaguar Smile

Week 12, April 18: Socialists for capitalism

Jean Franco, “Killing them Softly: The Cold War and Culture,” from The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City, 21-56 [available in electronic form through oskicat]

Efraín Kristal, The Temptation of the Word, pp. 69-112

Alma Guillermoprieto, “The Bitter Education of Vargas Llosa,” in Looking for History, 155-177

Week 13, April 25: Sociologists for capitalism

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, The Accidental President of Brazil

Week 14, May 2: Conclusions

Jorge Ibargüengoitia, “La Ley de Herodes,” pp. 19-23

James Petras, “The Metamorphosis of Latin America’s Intellectuals,” Latin American Perspectives 17, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 102-112.

Jorge Castañeda, “Changing of the Guard: From Intellectuals to the Grass Roots,” from Utopia Unarmed, 175-202.

Monday, January 06, 2014

An unexpected eulogy

We miss you already and we will always love you, Mom. I will try to see myself as you saw me.


The eulogy I delivered at Mom's memorial services on February 1st, 2014: First of all, I want to thank you all for your presence today. It is a great comfort to me and it was to my mother as well; you represent the communities that made her life a happy one. My name is Patrick; many of you I know and many of you I don’t. If you knew my mom, though, you have probably heard about me. What you have heard I have absolutely no idea, but my mom was a proud mother and she may have, on more than one occasion, spoken to you about something I was doing that may or may not have been interesting. I beg your indulgence; she was, she was a happy and proud mother, mother-in-law, and, in the last couple of years, grandmother.
When she was hospitalized over the holidays, neither she nor I thought that her life was near its end. But I did make sure that she knew how much I loved her. What I didn’t find the moment to tell her I will tell you now: I was enormously proud of her as well. She grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a place that my poor San Francisco-born wife thought looked eerily like a Norman Rockwell painting when she first saw it. She was a mayor’s daughter, the first girl of twelve, and so had a kind of co-parent role for many of her younger siblings. Kenosha is on the border with Illinois, not far from Chicago, and at a regional mayor’s conference, she once told me, her father and then-mayor Richard Daley worked on business while she had the responsibility for babysitting Richard Jr. – who went on to be the mayor himself. But my mom was never going to be a mayor-- careers were just beginning to open up for women, and though my mom got excellent grades and a degree from an excellent school in Marquette, she didn’t quite have a profession. Part of that was by choice. She traveled the world, learning transcendental meditation and teaching it to others. She married my father at 25. My father never wanted to settle down, and could pack up and move every few months. I was born seven years later, in Santa Cruz, California. Not so long afterwards, they moved to Santa Barbara. And a few months later, to Fairfield, Iowa.

My first memory is there, and my mom is stuck in the snow. I was looking out a window. She was trying to drive a car up the hill, and several people had gone out to help push her out of the rut she was in. I think I remember the wheels spinning. I had never seen anything like it. For the next 16 years, with one short interruption, she and I lived here in Iowa. She was a creative and dedicated mother. The best way that I can describe my childhood is enchanted. My mom did not draw firm lines between imagination and reality. I lived on a farm where there were cows – and, when you think about it, how much more implausible than a cow is a dragon really? I loved gnomes, so she left little notes around the house for me to find: under the couch from the couch gnomes, under the stairs from the stair gnomes. But she encouraged me to learn too. Childhood TV was Mister Rodgers, nature documentaries, and, for reasons I’ll never fully be able to understand, repeated viewings of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the evenings she spent hours reading books to me. There were days that I would come home to find the kitchen table turned into a series of science experiments. I remember that the large magnet that would hold sewing needles would show me the power of magnetism by tying a weight to a string and a paperclip, so that the paperclip would be suspended in air by the strong sewing magnet. My life was so full of enrichment that it took me years to learn that we were not at all rich.

After the end of her marriage, my Mom spent a decade devoted to making things okay for me. We had been living in University of Iowa graduate student housing while my dad worked on his Ph.D.; in order to stay in there, in the cheapest apartments in the city, Mom enrolled one class per semester. A couple of years later, we moved across town so that I would be able to stay with the cohort of friends from my elementary school. Her job then did not pay well, but it did support her to take classes for professional advancement, and over the course of a decade during which she balanced work, school, and parenting a teenager I can describe from experiences as intermittently tolerable, she earned a degree in library science that changed her life. Finally she was able to have a professional career, and a home here at Cornell College that took full advantage of her talents. The last dozen years of her life were among the best. She found a job that used so many of her talents – not just as a librarian, but as a human being. My mom was open and accepting to new experiences and new people. Instead of worrying about her interactions with people of different backgrounds or life experiences, as some might do, she truly treasured diversity. She always wanted to learn, and wasn’t intimidated by what she didn’t know. She had a ready smile for the people who came into her life. She was one of the least judgmental people I have ever known, not because she was not discriminating, but because she directed her attention to what was good in people, and she found much to love in almost everyone. So I will say now what I never quite told her: I’m proud of what she did with her life, how hard she worked to get it, and the legacy that she will leave. She may have sprung from a Norman Rockwell painting but she developed a global outlook, and there are people all around the world that loved her and will miss her.

There was one contradiction in my mom’s personality. Although she was the kind of person who allowed you to be yourself with her, and who accepted people for who they were, she could be quite hard on herself. She had an internal voice, as I do, and as many of us do, that tells us that what we have done is not good enough. We knew that she was wonderful, but she sometimes didn’t. She knew that we were wonderful, though we sometimes do not. My mother is no longer with us, and I miss her terribly. I haven’t known many people with her extraordinary capacity for accepting us as who we are. But she is no longer with us to do that. And so we are going to have to do it for ourselves. Not that we stop trying to live with peace and care. But that when we feel the strains of self-judgment, we might stop for a moment and see us not as we see ourselves in that moment, but as she would have seen us. To focus loving attention on ourselves and others, and accept that we can be good people without being perfect. If we can do this for ourselves and for others, my mother will still be with us. I will try my best, and I ask you to try to do so as well, in memory of her.