GOVT-455 Latin American Government and Politics
Offered academic year 2010-2011
This course offers an introduction to the contemporary politics of Latin America. The introductory section of the course considers historical dynamics and the foundation they laid for subsequent political and economic development in the region. We briefly examine the region’s colonial history, its wars of independence, and the struggle to construct nations and the emergence of industrialization in the 19th century. We also explore democratic development and the interventionist economic strategies that Latin American governments pursued through much of the 20th century, considering theories that seek to account for Latin American underdevelopment, the breakdown of democracy in the 1960s/1970s, and transitions from authoritarian rule in the 1980s. The rest of the course focuses on crucial contemporary questions. We consider democracy’s problems and pathologies; the various ways in which (and success with which) market reform has proceeded across the region; poverty, inequality, and informality; and the rule of law. We will also examine integration among Latin American countries, as well as the role the United States has played in the region. The final weeks of the course comprise case studies of a handful of Latin American nations.
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