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HIST 216

Power to the People: The Struggle for Democracy and Rights in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Latin America

This class surveys the ongoing struggle for rights, equality, and democracy by everyday people--women, native people, Afro-Latin Americans, the poor, and the queer community--in twentieth and twenty-first century Latin America. Characterized by the rise of unions, working class involvement in politics, attempts at land reforms, and the advancement of women's suffrage, the first half of the twentieth-century saw an expansion in people's rights and political participation, thereby making Latin American nations more democratic and inclusive than ever before. However, as students will learn, the struggle for equal rights and stable democracies for all citizens did not proceed in a linear, unobstructed fashion in the region. Rather, progress was fitful at best and, at worst, often times took significant steps back. Threats, both domestic and international, posed significant challenges to the democratization of Latin America; US and CIA interventions during the Cold War, for example, led to dictators across the region who impoverished their own countries; terrorized their populations; ended democratic rule; and limited the rights of women, the queer community, and people of color. Thus, this class challenges the "myth of progress," highlighting that democracy, civil rights, and greater equality are not guarantees in our modern world. That being said, this course demonstrates that everyday people persistently negotiated and pushed back against structures of oppression, leading to indigenous rebellions, social revolutions, and feminist and gay liberation movements. Indeed, Latin Americans "from below" shaped and continue to shape Latin America. The class will end by considering the current state of democracy and women's, queer, and indigenous rights, as well as other major issues facing the regions' nations in the twenty-first century.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities- or -Global Learning 1 course

Fall Semester information


216A: Power to the People: The Struggle for Democracy and Rights in 20th and 21st Century Latin America