Unlocking Latin American Culture

Course Information:  Wednesdays, April 2-May 7, 2014, 9:30-11:30 a.m., O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, UST St. Paul Campus

Course Description:  Latin American culture is rich and fascinating but it can also be incredibly complex.  How do we make sense of current issues South of the border?  The main objective of the course is to help you "unlock" the meaning of current events by tracing their history and by providing a rich socio-cultural context for them.  To that end, we will explore the role of religion, human rights struggles, environmental challenges, and neoliberalism in Latin American culture today.

Registration fee for the series:  $80.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card, click on this link:  https://webapp.stthomas.edu/eventregistration/UST/register.jsp?eventcrn=A7936

To register by check or cash through the mail or in-person, click on this link for the registration form to download, print and mail in with your payment: Spring 2014 Registration Form

Link to campus map:  St. Paul Campus Map

Detailed Course Syllabus (subject to change):

April 2

Embracing the Challenge:  Unlocking Latin America

In our first meeting, I will present an introduction to geography and history of Latin America.  Together we will complete activities that will help us prepare for the challenging and fascinating task of learning more about Latin America.

April 9

In the Times of the Colony

We will look into everyday life in the time of the colony and the impact that this period has on today's Latin culture.  We will introduce the concept of "mestizaje" and will look into "Casta paintings."  Ubran, religious and intellectual life will be on focus.

April 16

Religion:  Syncretism and Faith

Latin America is mainly a Roman Catholic region but this statement concels the amazing range of diversity that exists within the "Iglesia."  We will explore the syncretic nature of religion and its relevance in everyday life in the region.  We will also look into topics such as Liberation Theology, non-Western religions (Santeria, Candomble, etc.) and evangelism.

April 23

Latin America:  The Urban Continent

We will delve into ecological issues in the region.  As one of the most heavily urbanized regions in the world, Latin America deals with pressing ecological issues:  deforestration, air pollution and water shortage are among the most serious and urgent problems.  A look into successful green projects in Curitiba (Brazil), La Havana (Cuba) and Costa Rica will provide a hopeful perspective.

April 30

Human Rights:  Past Violations, Present Struggles

Dictatorships in Chile (1973-1990) and Argentina (1976-1983) will be on focus, as well as the forms of resistance that people devised against these de facto governments, such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo and the Arpillera movement.  We will also learn about the impact that this recent history of state-sponsored violence has on current issues.

May 7

Neoliberalism:  Contested Policies

Neoliberal policies have been implemented in the region for decades with very mixed results.  We will look into the effects of neoliberal policies in the areas of education, health and the composition of social classes today.


 RESOURCES:  Note that PPTs are in multiple parts due to the large file size

Week 1-Part 1

Week 1-Part 2

Week 1-Part 3

Week 1-Part 4