Twentieth-Century U.S.-Latin American Relations
Twentieth-Century U.S.-Latin American Relations
This course examines the history of relations between the United States and Latin America in the twentieth century. It emphasizes the domestic and global contexts within which U.S. leaders defined national economic, strategic, and ideological interests and their regional policy objectives, but it also explores the impact of Latin America’s nationalist, antiimperialist, class, racial, and gender struggles that often shaped policy outcomes in ways unanticipated by the United States. Students in this class are expected to learn about, and critically analyze the:
1) domestic sources of twentieth-century U.S. policy toward Latin America, who hasmade U.S. foreign
policy, on behalf of what interests, and toward what objectives;
Bermann, Karl. Under the Big Stick: Nicaragua and the United States Since 1848. NY:
Compita Publishers, 1986.
Randall, Stephen J. “Ideology, National Security, and the Corporate State: The Historiography of U.S.-Latin
American Relations,” Latin American Research Review 27: 1 (1992): 205-217.
Grades will be based upon class participation (15%), a mid-term exam (15%), a final exam (25%), a research paper (30%), and both informal and formal presentations of your research (15%). In lieu of a second exam, you may elect to submit a journal that records your summaries and critical evaluations of each of the assigned readings for the course. You must make this choice and communicate it to the instructor before taking the mid-term exam. The exams will be formatted to include two components, overnight take-home essays and identifications that will be written during class.
The class participation component of your final grade will be calculated based upon your preparation for and engagement in daily course lectures and discussions. This means that you should attend class regularly, complete all assigned readings as outlined in this syllabus, ask relevant questions that reflect your understanding of the assignment, be prepared to answer questions raised in class, and/or demonstrate your engagement in lectures by taking comprehensive notes.
The research paper will examine U.S. relations with a Latin American country of your choice, subject to the instructor's approval. You must select your topic by September 8 and submit a tentative working bibliography by September 15. If there is sufficient class interest, I will organize special workshops designed to assist you with both tasks. If necessary, there may be additional workshops organized later in the semester to facilitate your satisfactory completion of the research requirement.
Your research paper must include original research, utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources, and demonstrate familiarity with relevant historiographic problems and interpretations. Each student will select one of the six countries discussed in class, develop an appropriate research design, build a working bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and write a cohesively organized, amply documented, and coherently argued paper. Organizationally, it should be divided into three sections. First, it should include a brief historiographic discussion that introduces your topic, demonstrates your command of the relevant secondary literature, places U.S. relations within the broader context of US global ambitions and constraints, and offers your thesis about the objectives of U.S. foreign policy and their effect on Latin America.
Second, the body of the paper should: 1) define specific U.S. objectives; 2) identify both the domestic and international interests that shaped them; 3) examine the specific U.S. diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural policies designed to achieve them; and 4) explain their impact on various Latin American social sectors--e.g., women, workers, peasants, indigenous comunities, racial and ethnic minorities, small-to-medium-sized businesses, and wealthy propertied elites.
Finally, the conclusion should restate your thesis and summarize the most compelling arguments offered in support of it. You will submit your first draft, which minimally includes your introduction and historiographic discussion, by October 13. You will make an informal presentation of your research--i.e., thesis, literature review, preliminary evidence, tentative conclusions, and areas in need of further investigation--to the whole class
November 2 & 7, at which time your classmates and I will discuss your work, critically (but constructively) evaluate it, and suggest possible revisions. You will submit a second draft of the paper on November 28. Final papers will be due on December 15 at which time you will make a formal presentation to the class, other departmental faculty, and invited guests. Papers must be neat, clean (i.e., proof-read), typed, double-spaced, complete with notes and bibliography according to applicable rules of style.
Each student will be responsible for reading all the assignments and coming to class prepared to discuss them. Among the topics included in these discussions will be: 1) historiography; 2) domestic components of US foreign policymaking; 3) external components of the international system; 4) respective roles of ideology, national security, and economics in shaping US objectives; 5) the development of coherent patterns of U.S. interventionism and asymetrical power relations; 6) the historically changing nature of U.S. foreign policy instruments and tactics in the pursuit of consistent policy objectives in Latin America; 7) impact of these policies on Latin America; 8) effect on domestic social classes and political interest groups; 9) Latin American foreign policy objectives and their impact on US; and 10) the future of US-Latin American relations in the post-Cold War.
I. Introduction: Historiographic Debates: Nationalists, Realists, & Revisionists 8/29-31
II. Corporate Capitalist Crisis, Global Open Doors, and Hemispheric Imperialism:
Gilderhus, introduction & chs. 1-2
III. Postwar Interregnum and Hemispheric Hegemony: Corporate Capitalism &
Gilderhus, ch. 3
IV. Great Depression, Global Warfare, and Ultraimperialism: Corporate Capitalism
Gilderhus, ch. 4
V. Imperialism, Ultraimperialism, and the Twentieth-Century Search for an Open
Gilderhus, ch. 5
VI. Postwar Collapse of Global Capitalist Competition: Corporate Capitalism &
Leacock: chs. 1-12
VII. Resurgence of Global Capitalist Competition: Corporate Capitalism & Cold War
Sigmund: chs. 1-4 & conclusion
VIII. Global Competition, Third World Debt, and Neoliberalism: Corporate Capitalism
Gilderhus, ch. 6
IX. Conference: Searching for Patterns in the Twentieth-Century History of
September 8 Select Research Topic & Build Bibliography September 15 Submit Tentative Working Bibliography October 13 Submit First Draft of Research Paper October 19 Mid-Term Exam (Gilderhus, Bermann, & Gleijeses) November 2 & 7 Informal Presentation of Papers November 28 Submit Second Draft of Paper December 5 Final Exam (Paterson, Leacock, & Sigmund) December 15 Formal Conference Session on U.S.-Latin American Relations
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