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LAS1010 : Introducción a América Latina

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Patricia Oliart
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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. Journalism, Literature, painting and photography.
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 and the Pink tide.
-       Political changes and new challenges for Latin America.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion137:0037:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities412:0048:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities204:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk40:302:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This is a survey module with a diachronic approach. Historical circumstances are always brought to the present to make clear connections with their relevance to understand contemporary Latin America. Each topic is dealt with a combination of lectures, assigned readings and guided seminar small group discussions that are shared with the larger seminar groups. Readings combine both primary sources and scholarly articles that allow students to go further in their understanding of Latin American societies and cultures. Talks are recordings of online videos or interviews with ad-hoc interviews between the ML and specialists.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A30800-word written exercise (short literature review) in Spanish on one chosen topic from set list.
Essay2A701700 word essay in English
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-term assessment will help students to deepen knowledge of a particular topic, and to learn how to use library sources. It is intended to develop initial research skills helping students to identify and critically comment on relevant sources and to practice Spanish in an academic register. It works as a training in research skills for the final essay.

The final essay will invite students to look independently into the different areas of study emerging from the lectures and readings in both semesters. The resit essay has the same format as the final essay and serves the same purpose.

Reading Lists