Tutorial: Modern Latin American History


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The following is a subject guide designed for undergraduate students interested in Latin American studies.

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Tutorial: Modern Latin American History

  1. 1. The following is a guide for undergraduatestudents to explore resources in LatinAmerican studies through the Rebecca CrownLibrary.
  2. 2.  Our institution has an undergraduate population of2,000 students. While there is no academic program for LatinAmerican studies at this time, students pursing adegree in history and international studies inparticular may be interested in the area of modernLatin American history.Dominican University
  3. 3. This guide provides a listing of materials to delve intothe topic and understand the socio-political andcultural nuances of Latin America in the twentiethcentury. The following sources have been chosen tocover a variety of topics in the modern history ofvarious Latin American countries to meet diverseinterests and research needs.Objective:
  4. 4.  Circulating resources: Monographs Anthologies Videos Non-circulating items: Reference books Online Resources: Indexes & Directories JournalsTable of Contents:
  5. 5. The following monographs vary in topic and scope,ranging from the modern social history of one countryto a comparative account of figures across LatinAmerica.Monographs:
  6. 6. Adams, J. R. (2010). Liberators, patriots, and leaders of Latin America: 32biographies. Jefferson, NC: McFarald and Co.This is an updated version of the 1991 work with new additions toreflect changes on the Latin American political scene. It containsbiographies of Chilean liberator Bernardo O’Higgins, Cuban JoseMati, Mexico’s Pancho Villa, Nicaraguan president DanielOrtega, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and Chilean president SalvadorAllende, among others (Book News, 2010). The book details militarystrategies, along with an overlooked aspect of Latin Americanhistory, women’s participation in political campaigns (Leonard, 1991).This work provides an comparative account of liberators and leadersfrom a wide geographical span of Latin America and will help gain anoverview of Latin American politics through the lens of individuallives.
  7. 7. Cullather, N. (2006). Secret history: The CIA’s classified account of itsoperations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. Stanford, CA: StanfordUniversity Press.Secret History is one of the standards in Latin American history; ituncovers the CIA’s operations in Guatemala in the 1950s to overthrowa popularly elected leader, Jacabo Arbenz. This book wasgroundbreaking as Cullather uncovered CIA involvement leading todisastrous results for Guatemalan history using classified CIA recordsin 1994 (Domínguez, 2000, p. 314). The 2006 edition of the bookcontains documents that were released after its first publication (BookNews, 2007). The later edition of the book will help better understandhow U.S. actions shaped the political history of Latin America throughan in-depth case study of Guatemala. Secret History makes for afascinating read that will make you reconsider your view of modernLatin America.
  8. 8. Soto Laveaga, G. (2009). Jungle laboratories: Mexican peasants, nationalprojects, and the making of the pill. Durham, NC: DukeUniversity Press.This monograph is a fine and unique work in the field of medical andsocial history. Set in Mexico, the work examines the development ofthe contraceptive pill from a native Mexican plant, barbasco, into adrug sold worldwide and its eventual decline on the world market.Soto Laveaga uncovers the affects of U.S. interest in barbasco on theMexican countryside from 1941 to 1989 (Hall, 2012, p. 342-343). Theauthor successfully reveals “the political and social consequences ofcommodity extraction on the local community” (Hall, 2012, p. 343). Itnot only focuses on the history of rural southern Mexico, but alsoprovides an international perspective, highlighting the contribution ofMexico to the globalized science of birth control (Agostoni, 2011, p.494).
  9. 9. Stern, S. J. (2006). Remembering Pinochet’s Chile: On the eve of London1998. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.This volume is the second part of a trilogy that attempts to reconstructthe history of Chile during autocratic rule. Stern examines the differentmemories of the military rule of Augusto Pinochet in the second-halfof the twentieth century. For this, Stern relies on new primary sourcesand neglected archives, making his work methodologically successful(Collins, 2011, p. 287). The second volume is recommended for itsinsight on the social history of Pinochet’s Chile, as well as forproviding greater details on the political atmosphere than the othertwo volumes (Collins, 2011, p. 286-287). Stern contributes to LatinAmerican studies by highlighting the affects of the Cold War on Chileand delineating the relatively recent controversies on the Chileanpolitical scene (Tinsman, 2009, p. 479).
  10. 10. These works are great to read articles on variousaspects of modern Latin American history. Eachanthology covers a certain area or topic and includesarticles by renowned historians and scholarsspecializing in that area of Latin American history.Anthologies:
  11. 11. Arias, E. D. & Goldstein, D.M. (Eds.). (2010). Violent democracies in LatinAmerica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.This anthology examines the continuance of violence in a number ofLatin American nations during decades of post-authoritarian rule. Theeditors argue that Latin American democracies suffer from violentpluralism, as various parties use violence to develop their visions ofsociety (Chauvin, 2011, p. 384). The work presents a nuanced view ofthe social and political environment in Latin America (Chauvin, 2011,p. 385). This multi-disciplinary work brings together a dialoguebetween political scientists, sociologists, and historians on thedestructive nature of democracy (Gledhill, 2011, p. 675). Thisanthology will help understand the recent history of Colombia,Argentina, and Brazil in particular.
  12. 12. Branche, J. (Ed.). (2008). Race, colonialism, and social transformation in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press.This edited volume is a subaltern history of African-diasporic and indigenousgroups in Latin America (Beckett, 2010, p. 386). The first part of the book looksat the continual of colonial racist ideologies in Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, andPuerto Rico. Other chapters examine indigenous movements in Mexico andBolivia, along with social movements in Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Martinique,and Colombia (Beckett, 2010, p. 386). This collection of essays provides anessential, in-depth look into race-relations in modern Latin America and asocial history from below. It covers a wide region, shedding light on areasneglected by other Latin American studies (Earle, 2010, p. 578).Joseph, G. M. & Spenser D. (Eds.). (2008). In from the cold: Latin America’s newencounter with the Cold War. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.This anthology proves that a pivotal role was played by Latin Americannations in the Cold War conflict between the Soviet Union and the UnitedStates. The volume explores Cuba and Argentina’s military participation in theCold War, along with the culture of propaganda in other countries, primarilyMexico and Brazil (Navarro, 2009, p. 563). In From the Cold transforms amilitary and political history topic into a cultural one. The work is important asthe authors utilize newly available Latin American archives to reveal storiesnot examined before (Loveman, 2009, p. 190).
  13. 13. Rosen, F. (Ed.). (2008). Empire and dissent: The United States and LatinAmerica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.This anthology consists of nine essays that reveal the impact of UnitedStates and British imperialism on the political and economicdevelopment of Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela(Jaede, 2011, p. 612). The collection thus examines a wide scope of LatinAmerican history over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Thiswork will help understand the various Latin American countries’resistance, from above by the state and below in the form of populistmovements, to imperialist policies (Jaede, 2011, p. 613). Empire andDissent will help gain a comparative view of the history from bothinternational and local perspectives (Fornes, 2011, p. 96).
  14. 14. Bensimon, G. (2011). Crossing our borders [Motion picture]. USA:Landmark Media.This video examines the political scene of Venezuela in the 1990s, alongwith dictatorships in other countries, including Peru, Cuba, Argentina,and Chile. Not limiting itself to history, the film also touches on thecurrent state of a number of Latin American countries that continue to fallunder dictatorship (Falato, 2011). The main purpose of the film is to revealthe brutal and violent nature of dictatorial governments by focusing onHugo Chavez’s presidency in Venezuela (Hall, 2012). The work willprovide not only insight on the political history, but also on economichistory (Hall, 2012). Although the film has a clear political agenda, Irecommend it for its look into the more current state of Latin Americanfinancial conditions leading to the continual of dictatorships in the area.Videos:
  15. 15. Pilger, J. & Martin, C. (Directors). (2010). The war on democracy [Motionpicture]. England: Enhance TV.This movie uncovers the reality behind U.S. relations with LatinAmerica, along with the social history of Latin American countries andthe rise of popular democracy. The main case study is, as in Crossingour Borders, Venezuela, but Pilger provides a nuanced view byrevealing the positives of Hugo Chavez’s rule. The movie shows U.S.involvement in a failed 2002 attempt to overthrow Chavez, and drawsin U.S. involvement in coup attempts in other Latin American nationslike Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, and El Salvador (Wadland, 2008).The film provides viewers with “firsthand narratives of human rightsviolations” and reveals brewing conditions of grass root revolutions,arguing that Latin American poor resent U.S. involvement in theircountries that only benefit the elite (Coffta, 2008).
  16. 16. These include encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlasesthat will help you start your research in Latin Americanstudies. In most cases, these can be utilized on librarypremises as they are non-circulating materials.Reference Books:
  17. 17. Figueredo, D.H. (2007). Latino chronology: Chronologies of the Americanmosaic. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Figueredo provides a chronology of the Americas from prehistory to 2006.The volume covers forty-four subject areas fromeconomics, education, religion to arts and crafts (Slattery, 2008). It is uniquein that it covers Latino life and accomplishments in the U.S. (Slattery, 2008).The book is well-written and readable for undergraduate students, and canbe utilized as a fast and reliable source for information (American LibraryAssociation, 2008-).Kline, H. F. (2012). Historical dictionary of Colombia. Lanham, MD:Scarecrow Press.This dictionary contains various topics from Colombian history, coveringpolitical, economic, cultural, and social areas. The volume contains over onethousand entries, a chronology, list of abbreviations and acronyms, and anextensive bibliography (Slattery, 2013). The volume is comprehensive andsimple, appropriate to use as a starting guide on Latin America(Webb, 2012). There are historical dictionaries on other Latin Americancountries, but this is one of the latest resources from Scarecrow Press’sHistorical Dictionaries of the Americas series. Some of the older historicaldictionaries in this collection may be outdated by now.
  18. 18. Larosa, M. J. & Mejia, G. R. (2007). An atlas and survey of Latin Americanhistory. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Virtual Reference Library.This resource is one of the latest printed atlases in this field of study. The atlascontains text analyzing the social, cultural, and political events in LatinAmerican history, with maps to illustrate these developments (Slattery, 2007).The work is informative, even as the maps are “line-drawn with gray-scaleshading” (Book News, 2007). An online version of the book will makes iteasier to access the material from off-campus and print maps as necessary.Leonard, T. M. (Ed.). (2010). Encyclopedia of Latin America. New York:Facts on File.This resource is a four-volume encyclopedia with the economic, political, andcultural history of Latin America. The four volumes cover Latin Americanhistory from prehistoric times to the present and highlight the development ofmodern Latin American nations. The work includes contributions from “anotable group of more than 60 contributors,” helping it provide an expansivecoverage of the area (Sutton, 2010). The entries range from a paragraph toseveral pages, depending on the topic (Sutton, 2010). The resource isrecommended as a starting point for research on topics pertaining to LatinAmerican cultures and history (Hall, 2011). The articles included arecomprehensible and the resource contains a bibliography to consult forfurther research (Hall, 2011).
  19. 19. Smith, J. (2007). Historical dictionary of United States-Latin Americanrelations. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.This dictionary provides an overview of U.S. and Latin Americandiplomatic relations from the 18th century to the present. It is ahelpful introduction on the topic with a chronology of events andbibliography to guide users (American Library Association, 2008-).Other features include a regional map, section on abbreviations andacronyms, and a dictionary of areas where political interactionoccurred (Ockerman, 2007). This work is an important supplementto the circulating monographs and edited volumes available at thelibrary.
  20. 20. There are a number of websites that review andorganize Latin American resources. Consulting theseindexes will help guide you to in-depth primary andsecondary resources for your research.Online Indexes &Directories:
  21. 21. Abraham, T. Repositories of primary sources. Retrievedfromhttp://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/special-collections/Other.Repositories.html.Repositories of Primary Sources is a website that indexes over 5000 onlineresources, covering manuscripts, archives, and primary sources for regionsworldwide. There is a section on Latin America and islands in the Caribbeanthat is further divided by country, covering twenty-five Central and SouthAmerican countries. Abraham maintains the site up-to-date, testing resourcesfor correctness and appropriateness (Abraham). The site is authoritative asAbraham is a renowned professor and former head of Special Collection andArchives at the University of Idaho Library (American Library Association,2008-).LANIC: Latin American Network and Information Center. Retrievedfrom http://lanic.utexas.edu.The website for the Latin American Network and Information Center provides adirectory of online resources relating to Latin America. The site can be arrangedby countries or topics, and covers topics ranging from economy, social sciences,environment, art, and culture (American Library Association, 2008-). Thisextensive and well-designed resource will help you begin their researchendeavors (Jacoby, 2008). The online site is current, updated daily, and providesfree, quality information (Jacoby, 2008).
  22. 22. Library of Congress. HLAS online: Handbook of Latin Americancultures. Retrieved from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/hlas.HLAS indexes journal articles, books, papers, and other online resourcesfor Latin American history and current studies. The bibliographycontains over 5000 works, chosen by 130 academics each year (Library ofCongress). The site is updated on a weekly basis, and provides userswith “rapid, comprehensive access to future, current, and retrospectivevolumes of the Handbook” (Library of Congress). This resource can befreely accessed online; it is authoritative as it maintained by the Libraryof Congress (American Library Association, 2008-). The website willhelp you conduct further research into any topic in Latin Americanhistory, being a great supplement to the texts in the curriculum.
  23. 23. There are a number of journals on Latin Americaavailable for you to utilize, many of these are indexedby the websites listed above. The following are just twoof the open-access resources to examine.Online Journals:
  24. 24. Dawes, G. (Ed.). (2003-). A Contracorriente: A Journal of Social History andLiterature in Latin America. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ncsu.edu/acontracorriente.A Contracorriente is an open access journal that will be advantageous for you toexplore. It is published three times a year, since 2003, covering the subjects ofLatin American literature, culture, history, and theory (MLA Directory ofPeriodicals). The journal publishes essays, reviews, and interviews pertaining tomodern Latin American social and cultural history from 1950s onwards (MLADirectory of Periodicals). The resource is authoritative as it is maintained by theNorth Carolina State University.The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/topics.The Economist is a British journal and parts of this can be accessed freely online.The journal provides users with features such as country profiles, economicforecasts and statistics, and political outlook for a number of Latin Americancountries (American Library Association, 2008-). While part of site can beaccessed for free, other areas require membership or can be purchased on anindividual basis (Field, 2003). The site is current, as the information is kept up-to-date with the print version’s weekly publication. The option to search bytopic is useful, and topics for the region include economy, politics, and marketsthat will be useful for a more contemporary look into Latin American studies.
  25. 25. Agostoni, C. (2011). [Review of the book: Jungle laboratories: Mexican peasants, nationalprojects, and the making of the pill]. American Historical Review, 116(2), 493-494.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.American Library Association. (2008-). Guide to Reference. Retrieved fromhttp://guidetoreference.org.Beckett, G. (2010). [Review of the book: Race, colonialism, and social transformation in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean]. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 29(3), 385-387.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Book News. (2007). [Review of the book: An atlas and survey of Latin American history].Reference and Research Book News. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Book News. (2007). [Review of the book: Secret history, the CIA’s classified account of itsoperations in Guatemala, 1952-1954]. Reference and Research Book News. Retrievedfrom http://web.ebscohost.com.Book News. (2010). [Review of the book: Liberators, patriots, and leaders of Latin America: 32biographies]. Reference and Research Book News. Retrieved fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.Bibliography
  26. 26. Chauvin, I. D. (2011). [Review of the book: Violent democracies in Latin America].Hispanic American Historical Review, 91(2), 383-385. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ebscohost.com.Coffta, M. (2008). [Review of: The war on democracy]. Educational Media ReviewsOnline. Retrieved fromhttp://emro.lib.buffalo.edu/emro/emroDetail.asp?Number=3296.Collins, C. (2011). [Review of the book: Remembering Pinochet’s Chile: On the eve ofLondon 1998]. Journal of Latin American Studies, 43(2), 392-394. Retrievedfrom http://web.ebscohost.com.Dominican University. Retrieved from http:///www.dom.edu/academics.Domínguez, J. I. (2000). [Review of the book: Secret history]. Journal ofInterdisciplinary History, 31(2), 314-315. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ebscohost.com.Earle, R. (2010). [Review of the book: Race, colonialism, and social transformation inLatin America and the Caribbean]. Hispanic American Historical Review, 90(3),578-579. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Falato, B. (2011). [Review of: Crossing our borders]. Educational Media Reviews Online.Retrieved fromhttp://emro.lib.buffalo.edu/emro/emroDetail.asp?Number=4559.Field, J.J. (2003). Economist country briefings [Review of economist.com/countries].ARBAonline. Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Fornes, G. (2011). [Review of the book: Empire and dissent: The United States andLatin America]. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 30(1), 96-97. Retrievedfrom http://web.ebscohost.com.
  27. 27. Gledhill, J. (2011). [Review of the book: Violent democracies in Latin America]. Journalof the Royal Anthropological Institute 17(3), 675-676. Retrieved fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.Hall, M. R. (2012). [Review of the book: Jungle laboratories: Mexican peasants, nationalprojects, and the making of the pill]. Journal of Third World Studies, 29(1), 342-344. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Hall, P. (2011). [Review of the book: Encyclopedia of Latin America]. ARBAonline.Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Hall, P. (2012). [Review of: Crossing our borders]. Video Librarian Plus. Retrievedfrom http://www.videolibrarian.com.Jacoby, J. (2008). [Review of: LANIC: Latin American Network and InformationSite]. ARBAonline. Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Jaede, M. (2011). [Review of the book: Empire and dissent: The United States and LatinAmerica]. Journal of World History, 22(3), 612-615. Retrieved fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.Leonard, L. (1991). [Review of the book: Liberators and patriots of Latin America:biographies of 23 leaders from Dona Marina (1505-1530) to Bishop Romero(1917-1980)]. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Loveman, B. (2009). [Review of the book: In from the cold: Latin America’s newencounter with the Cold War]. Journal of Cold War Studies, 12(3), 190-193.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.
  28. 28. MLA Directory of Periodicals. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Navarro, A. W. (2009). [Review of the book: In from the cold: Latin America’s NewEncounter with the Cold War]. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 28(4), 562-564. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Ockerman, H.W. (2007). [Review of the book: Historical dictionary of the UnitedStates-Latin American relations]. ARBAonline. Retrieved fromhttp://arba.lu.com.Slattery, K. S. (2007). [Review of the book: An atlas and survey of Latin Americanhistory]. ARBAonline. Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Slattery, K. S. (2008). [Review of the book: Latino chronology]. ARBAonline.Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Slattery, K. S. (2013). [Review of the book: Historical dictionary of Columbia].ARBAonline. Retrieved from http://arba.lu.com.Sutton, S. (2010). [Review of the book: Encyclopedia of Latin America]. Library Journal.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Tinsman, H. (2009). Cold War memories [Review of the book: RememberingPinochet’s Chile: On the eve of London 1998]. Social History, 34(4). 477-482.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.Wadland, J. (2008). [Review of: The war on democracy]. Video Librarian Plus 23(6).Retrieved from http://www.videolibrarian.com.Webb, P. (2012). [Review of the book: Historical dictionary of Colombia]. Booklist.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.