Graduate Emphasis - Core Course Description

The Core Course for the Graduate Emphasis in Latin American Studies (now in its second year of existence) is a yearlong seminar organized as six workshops that allow students from different disciplines to come together around the exploration of a single topic. The workshops are conducted as regular academic conferences and all enrolled students are required to take active participation in each event. Students may present their current research insofar as it loosely corresponds to the theme of the workshop. Students who do not have research or paper on the particular topic of the workshop may choose to present (as clearly as possible) an important book or article to the group. (Each workshop has a bibliographical list that constitutes the reading material for that workshop). Students also participate by acting as chairs or discussants of particular sections. Most workshops will count with a guest speaker from outside UCI. Since the workshops run all day, lunch is provided when feasible in budgetary terms. Each workshop ends with a reception and informal dinner.

Last year (2015-16), all meetings took place on a Friday from around 9:00 am to 6: pm. The long hours were a reflection of the number of students who registered in the class (21). We expect this year’s workshop to run a little bit shorter. While the Spanish department supplied most students, the first installment of the workshop counted with students from Comparative Literature, Social Ecology, Anthropology, Political Sciences, Drama and Sociology. We expect this year workshop to be even more diverse in terms of student’s fields of research. While the workshop’s goal is to explore innovative and important trends in Latin American studies, the contents of each discussion were substantially shaped by our guest lecturers and student’s individual presentations. Regular faculty from UCI and colleagues from other universities attended the workshop as public.

2015-16 Core Course Summary:

Religiosity, animality and popular memory. (FALL) This workshop focused mostly on the Caribbean region. We counted with the visit of Professor Robin Derby (UCLA) who presented part of her work on vampirism and animal studies in Dominican Republic. Students presented on Taussig, Agamben, Ortiz, Metraux among others. 
Neoliberalism and dictatorships in Latin America. (Fall) This workshop revised the basic bibliography on neo-liberalism (Foucault, Naomi Klein, Wendy Brown, David Harvey). We discussed at length the work of two Latin American authors, Bernardo Sorj, La democracia inesperada (Brazil) and Verónica Gago, La razón populista (Argentina). Professor Alessandro Fornazzari visited from UCR and discussed his book on neo-liberalism in Chile with the group.
Visual contestations in Latin America (Winter) This workshop coincided with the Latin American film festival and the visit of Professor Julio Ramos (emeritus UC-Berkeley) who presented his film project on Diego Rivera’s murals in Detroit. We shared readings and presentations on tourism of archaeological ruins, the relationship between pop art and Cuban revolution, and the history of painting and indigenismo. The workshop included a very animated discussion of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and different trends in Latin American photography.

Andes: past rebellions and present utopias. (Spring) Professor Charles Walker (UC Davis) gave a presentation on his recent book on the Tupac Amaru rebellion. Most of the workshop was devoted to contemporary issues in the Andes with readings by Marisol de la Cadena, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui and Alvaro García Linera. Independent student presentations included topics such as the geo-politics of coca plantation and race and sexuality in the Colombian Andes.

Internal borders (Spring) A supplement to the workshop on neo-liberalism, this meeting explored how what Jacques Rancière have called the weakening of the common affected historical and material practices in Latin America. Readings included James Holston and Teresa Caldeira on Brazil, Maristella Svampa on Argentina and Sergio Gonzalez Rodríguez on femicides in Ciudad Juarez.

2016-2017 Core Course Summary

Please notice that while the date of the workshop is always on Friday, the exact time will be announced. The time reflected in the schedule of classes IS NOT the actual time of the workshop. It is a time posted to facilitate your enrollment in other classes since the system will reject your registration if it notices any overlap.

Fall 2016. Workshops one and two will explore the peculiar development by which the establishment of lasting democracies in Latin America following the cold war is almost contemporary with the erosion of traditional liberal democracy and the rising of new forms of democratic participation in the region. Rather than focusing exclusively on popular mobilization, we want to interrogate the coexistence of massive street mobilizations, the rise of social movements and the creation of new forms of participation (for instance through the transformations in the access to audio-visual production and reproduction) with the persistent disenchantment with institutional democratic processes. Is it possible to speak in Latin America of an insurgent democracy? What categories would allow us to make sense of a present in which the legitimate investment of power is hotly contested and yet its economic bases are perceived as unmovable? Workshop one will explore this problem in predominantly urban areas (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico) while workshop two will be devoted mostly to the Andean region in which the same historical process is incarnated under figures related to indigenous heritages and histories.

Winter 2017

Workshop three will be devoted to the importance of the visual in recent Latin American history. Authors, problems and areas include: testimonial film and testimonial photography, the hyper-visibility of the poor (Salgado), state propaganda and pop culture (Cuba) among others. Guest speaker: Natalia Brizuela (UC-Bekerley)
Workshop four will center on the Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian problems, history and experiences. We will explore why the affirmation of an Afro culture took the forms that it did in each case and how are these options portrayed today in the larger sphere of Diaspora studies and Pan-Africanist movements. Guest speaker: Jorge Duany. Expert on migration and Diaspora; director of the Cuban Research  Institute at Florida International University.

Spring 2017

Workshop five, titled “The lettered city and the runaway” revisits Angel Rama’s famous designation of Latin American space as a scripted, subjugating and ultimately anti-democratic form of domination aimed to tame a more anarchic drive for the habitation of the Latin American space. The interest of the workshop is not so much on the historical accuracy of Rama’s description as it is on looking to the forms of policing that have traversed Latin American history and its many and constant contestations. In addition to Angel Rama, readings will include Gruzinski’s The Conquest of Mexico, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio’s photographic essay The Last City and Maristella Svampa’d study of the piquetero movement in Argentina as a politically de-territorializing force. Guest speaker: Jeff Gould, Historian and Director of Latin American Studies at the University of Indiana.

Workshop six. While we have several options available for the last workshop, we will decide together the subject that we will be broaching for the last workshop at a business meeting.