Skip to main content


LAS1010 : An Introduction to Latin America

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Patricia Oliart
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


In consonance with the overall aim of the degree offered in the School of Modern Languages, the general aim of this module is to introduce students to the geography, politics, and key social and historical issues that allow a complex understanding of contemporary Latin America. Other aims are to provide a multidisciplinary overview and understanding of post coloniality in Latin America, to provide context and initial knowledge of issues to be taught in other SPLAS modules, and finally to familiarize students with a wide range of sources and research resources on Latin America.

Outline Of Syllabus

This survey module follows a diachronic approach, bringing a historical perspective to contemporary issues.
It combines lectures, seminars, and independent study activities. The first half provides a historical framework to understand the place of Latin America in the world. The relevance of the colonization of Amerindian civilizations for the contemporary republics is studied through the independent nation building processes as they occurred in a selection of countries. The importance of race relations and cultural tensions in these processes is dealt with throughout the module. The semester ends with sessions dedicated to the relationship between this socio-historical background and the contemporary cultural production.

The second half of the module presents a closer look at the political ideas and ideological trends that inspired political and social movements throughout the 20th century. The tense relationship between Latin America and the US is explored in its economic, social and political implications between 1950 and 1980. The module ends with an exploration of current attempts to overcome major development challenges.

Semester 1:
-       Characteristics of the territory and first peoples. The contributions of ethnohistory and anthropology
-       The encounter with the West. Spanish and Portugal Colonial expansion to the Americas
-       Nation building processes and the idea of race in Latin America after Independence
-       Latin American cultural production: Dealing with tradition and modernity. Cinema, music, and literature.
Semester 2:
-       Ideology, politics, and contemporary challenges.
-       The short Twentieth Century: The emergence of “The People” in ideology and politics.
-       From 1950 to 1980: Times of Hope and unrest
-       Military dictatorships and The National Security Doctrine. What Truth Commissions revealed.
-       In search of stability and development: Neo Liberal State reforms for the XXI Century.
-       Political changes and new challenges for Latin America.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists