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LAS4001 : Inter-American Relations from the Spanish-American War (1898) to the end of the Cold War (1989/1991)

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jens R Hentschke
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


In consonance with the degrees offered in the SML, this module aims:
•       to build on skills and knowledge gained at Stage 1.
•       to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of Inter-American Relations in the ‘short 20th century’ or the ‘age of extremes’ with its lasting legacies.
•       to prepare students for for postgraduate study in the areas of Political Science/International Relations, Late Modern and Contemporary History and Politics, and Socio-Cultural Studies.
•       to make aspects of the above available to students from outside the degree.

The main purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to Inter-American relations in the 20th century, to understand the long-term consequences of U.S. foreign policy until the present time, and to combine three approaches:
a) International Relations Theory: you should understand the major paradigms, or normative ideas, and the inter-paradigmatic ‘Great Debates’ shaping this field and American foreign policy in the 20th century. Furthermore, you should recognise these ideas in political doctrines.
b) Historical Method of analysis and assessment of documents: you will get copies of primary sources in English, which reveal the objectives of U.S. foreign policy and the positions of Latin Americans.
c) Empirical case studies: you will test major theories, doctrines, development aid programmes, etc. by exploring some key events in U.S.-Latin American relations on the basis of the literature.

You will learn about the continuities (constant reinterpretations of the Monroe doctrine) and discontinuities (shift from isolationism to internationalism) in U.S. policy towards Latin America and get an idea of the cyclical character of inter-American relations. Periods of ‘realist’ (or even imperialist) US foreign policies and those of Washington’s benign neglect of Latin America have regularly replaced each other. The same applies to a U.S.-dominated Pan-Americanism and an integration of Latin American countries without or against, the U.S. (Latin Americanism).

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will cover the following topics and case studies:

Week 1: Intro to Course and Inter-American Relations

Weeks 2-8 (Core):
Doctrinal Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Era of Revolution and Territorial Expansion (Latin American Independence, Mexican – American War) and Impact of America’s Economic Expansion (British Guayanan – Venezuelan border dispute);
Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Big Stick’ (Spanish-American War, Panamá Canal Question) and Taft’s ‘Dollar Diplomacy’ (Dominican Republic);
Wilson’s ‘Watchful Waiting’ (Mexican Revolution) and F.D.Roosevelt’s ‘Good Neighbour’ Policy (Cuban Revolution of 1933, Nationalisation of Mexican Oil);
New Pan-Americanism but Benign Neglect of Latin America (OAS and Guatemalan Revolution) and Challenges to the New Pan-Americanism (Cuban Revolution of 1959);
‘Alliance for Progress’ and Benign Hegemony (Dominican Republic and Pinochet’s coup in Chile) and Carter’s Détente and Human Rights Policy (New Panamá Canal Treaties);
Reagan’s Return to Intervention (Nicaraguan Revolution), and End of the Cold War and Clinton’s Liberal Approach (‘Humanitarian Intervention’ in Haití).

Week 9: Round-up and materials Essay writing

The course will be taught and assessed in English.

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