LASP-487-01 Politics of Race and Ethnicity
Fall for 2008-2009
No faculty information available
A. Overview of Course
Latin America is a region of great racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity. According to recent demographic surveys, there are over 40 million indigenous people and 120 million Afro-descendant people in Latin America, comprising over 40 percent of the region’s population. In several countries, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, indigenous peoples comprise a majority of the country’s rural population. While in other Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Colombia, Afro-descendant people form a major part of both the rural and urban workforce.
Despite this continuing presence of indigenous and Afro-descendant people, only in the past couple of decades have national constitutions begun to recognize the rights of these populations to maintain their ethnic and cultural identities, to be protected against racism and other forms of discrimination, and to be provided with equal access to land and to educational, employment and other opportunities. One of the major reasons for this more recent recognition of the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples is the emergence of several new social movements whose main purpose has been to affirm the political, civil, and social rights of these peoples and to call for a more formal recognition of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nature of Latin American societies. There have also been several recent conferences, sponsored by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and other international agencies, which have led to a series of new international conventions and agreements calling for the combating of racial and ethnic discrimination and the recognition of cultural diversity.
In a sense, for the first time in their histories, many Latin American countries are today faced by the challenge of creating truly multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural democracies. A major purpose of this course will be to provide students with a systematic overview of the contemporary history of race and ethnic relations in Latin American countries; the political and social role which the new indigenous and Afro-descendant movements are playing in changing the images of these countries; and, the challenges which Latin American countries face in creating more equitable and inclusive democracies.
The course itself will be open to both advanced under-graduates and graduate students and be conducted in a seminar format. It will demand a relatively large amount of weekly readings, active class participation and the preparation of a mid-term essay assignment of 8 to 10 double-spaced pages in length and a final paper of 15 to 20 pages in length on racial and ethnic relations and government policies and programs in a specific Latin American country.
In the first part of the course, we shall be reading three recent books on the general situation of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant populations in Latin America. We shall then turn to more detailed discussions of Afro-descendant and indigenous movements and resulting government policies and programs in such countries as Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala and Mexico. We shall also consider how various international agreements such as the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples of 1989; the UN Conference Against Racism and Discrimination held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001; the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity approved at the 31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris in November 2001; and, the more recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples approved by the UN General Assembly in September 2007 have or could potentially affect the social policies and programs of Latin American countries in relation to the human and cultural rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendent populations.
The course itself is currently scheduled to be held on Monday afternoon between 3 and 5 pm in the Walsh Building in Room 390.
B. Websites and Course Texts:
Students who are interested in registering for this course may wish to take a look at the following websites to get a clearer idea of some of the issues we shall be discussing in the course:
Minority Rights Group International (London, England): www.minorityrights.org
Inter-Agency Consultation on Race in Latin America (Washington, DC): www.iac-race.org
Cultural Survival Inc (Cambridge, Massachusetts): www.culturalsurvival.org
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (Copenhagen, Denmark): www.iwgia.org.
In addition, three of the books that we shall be reading during the first part of the course are:
Peter Wade, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (London, Pluto Press, 1997).
Rachel Sieder (Editor), Multiculturalism in Latin America: Indigenous Rights, Diversity and Democracy (London, Palgrave MacMillan, 2002).
Minority Rights Group (Editor), No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today (London, Minority Rights Publications, 1995).
In the second and third parts of the course, we shall also read and discuss the following books:
Edward E. Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Color in Brazil (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2004).
Alcida Rita Ramos, Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1998).
Donna Lee Van Cott, The Friendly Liquidation of the Past: The Politics of Diversity in Latin America (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).
Deborah J. Yashar, Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of Indigenous Movements and the Postliberal Challenge (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Kay B. Warren, Indigenous Movements and Their Critics: Pan-Maya Activism in Guatemala (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1998).
Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization (Austin, University of Texas Press, 1996)
C. Student Assignments and Grades
Student grades will be based upon three factors: (a) participation in class discussions and student presentations of readings (20%); (b) a mid-term, take home essay assignment (30%); and, (c) a final paper on racial and ethnic relations and government policies and programs in a specific Latin American or Caribbean country chosen by the student (50%).
If students have any questions about the course, they should feel free to contact the instructor at: email@example.com.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '08: Davis, S. (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
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