History 228
Race, Class and Gender in Latin America, 1520-2000
Spring 2003
Tu, Th 11:10-12:30 TLC 307

Skidmore College

Prof. Jordana Dym
Office: Room 326 TLC 

Office Hours: 
M 11-12, 2:30-4;
Tu 4-6 or by appt

Telephone: 580-5272

E-Mail: jdym@skidmore.edu

Wedding couples: Guatemala, 1910s. "Spanish Family," Guayaquil, Ecuador, ca. 1900
(Photos: Prof. N. Jacobsen, Images of Latin America)


Secondary Sources
Graham, Richard, ed., The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940
Stepan, Nancy Leys, The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender & Nation in Latin America
Martínez-Alier, Verena, Marriage, Class & Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba
Yelvington, Kevin, Producing Power; Ethnicity, Gender & Class in a Caribbean Workplace

Matto de Turner, Clorinda, Torn from the Nest

Additional articles & primary source documents as outline on the syllabus.

Course Description
This course looks at how different ideas about race and ethnicity have shaped Latin American politics and societies from colonial times to the present. Themes covered include: interactions of Iberian, American, African and Asian peoples; official and unofficial management of multiethnic and multicultural societies; scientific racism; and the relation between theories of race and development of ideas about class, gender and nation.

Objectives: There are two primary objectives for this course. The first is to focus students' exploration of historical events, personalities and processes of Latin American history through the frame work of race, class and gender: how does a focus on social and economic analysis add depth to or challenge the traditional narrative history. The second objective is to develop students' abilities within the historical discipline by assignments that focus on methods of historical research and analysis of primary and secondary sources (reviews) as well as introduce the theoretical and organizational principals of historical research (comparative essays).

Return to Top

Course Structure and Requirements

Class will meet twice a week, and will combine both lecture & discussion. The literature on race, class and gender in Latin America and the Caribbean is voluminous. This course does not pretend to provide complete coverage of all issues and historiography. Instead, it presents principle ideas and themes. Emphasis in the course is on critical reading of historical texts and the ability to present brief, pertinent, thoughtful written and spoken analyses of material covered. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their own particular interests in the comparative essay.

All elements of the course must be completed satisfactorily; failure to attend class or failure to complete the written assignments satisfactorily may result in failure of the course. Late work will not be accepted without advance approval (and will be appropriately downgraded). College policies on integrity are strictly enforced. Students submitting assignments by e-mail who do not receive confirmation of receipt should assume that the work has not been received.

1. Participation-20 %
All students will be expected to come to class, keep up with weekly readings and participate in class and section discussions. Instructor will look for faithful attendance, ability to comment on weekly readings, thoughtful participation, and a desire to create a friendly, respectful and articulate atmosphere in the classroom. Up to two absences will not affect the participation grade. 5%: attendance, 15%: participation, which may include in-class quizzes on an occasional basis.

2. Criticial Review - 15%
Once during the course of a semester students will hand in reaction papers that critique a selection from weekly readings. The review should be 2-3 typewritten, double-spaced pages (500-750 words). To prepare for these papers, it is recommended that students consult the Book Review section of historical journals (The American Historical Review, Latin American Research Review, etc.) to see how scholars critique each other's work. Sign-up for reviews will be the second week of class.

3. Comparative Review Essay -25%
Each student will prepare a thoughtful 4-6 page (1000-1500 word) review that compares a supplemental primary or secondary source with specific readings on a theme of the course. The essay should analyze the historical value or interest of the work in relation to works read in class. Students should indicate which theme they will review by week 3 of classes. Reviews are due the Tuesday following discussion of the subject.

4. Research Paper - 40%
Each student will write one 10-12 page research essay, due May 5. The essay will draw from class readings and additional sources (accepted in consultation with the professor) and will be based on a minimum of additional 4 articles or 2 books and one article. The essay assignment is not expected to be a piece of research based on primary sources, nor strictly a historiographic review. Instead, it allows students to draw on the rich secondary literature available in order to explore a specific historical case or problem of choice.

The essay may compare one topic in different periods or places (i.e. miners in colonial and contemporary Latin America; Indian women in colonial Mexico and Peru; race in Brazil). Students may choose a primary or fictional source and contrast it with scholarly treatment of a subject or may focus on different approaches to a single topic. Students should choose their topic by February 15 (in consultation with the professor.

Research Paper Grade will be based on:
MARCH 4: Annotated Bibliography & Thesis: 5%;
APRIL 8: Draft: 10%;
MAY 5: Final Draft: 20%; Oral Presentation of Paper: 5%.

Return to Top


Weeks 1 & 2: Theories of Race, Class & Gender in the Latin American Context

January 21: Overview & Introduction
January 23: What are Race and Ethnicity?
1) *Peter Wade, Race & Ethnicity in Latin America, Chapter 1
2) *Malcom Gladwell, "Black Like Them"

January 28: "Constructing" Class & Gender?
3) *Borah, Woodrow, "Race & Class in Mexico"
4) *Joan Scott "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis"
5) *Jean Franco, "Bodies in Contention"

Recommended Additional Reading:
6) *Karl Marx, "Wage Labour and Capital"

Return to Top


Part 1: The Colonial Heritage

Weeks 2 & 3: Indian, African & Spaniard:
Male & Female, in Colonial Society

January 30: Urban Work
1) *Anonymous account, 17th-C. Lima
2) *Guaman Poma de Ayala. Corónica y Buen Gobierno (exc.)
3) Ann Zulawski, "Social Differentiation, Gender, & Ethnicity: Urban Indian Women in Colonial Bolivia, 1640-1725"

4) *Peter Bakewell, "Life & Times of Antonio Quiroga, Beginning"

Tarascan Professions, [19th c. ms. facsimile of the 1537-41 original]. Peter Force Collection,

Ms. Division, Library of Congress,
on-line Exhibit, 1492: An Ongoing Voyages

Products and services provided as tribute, including a banner with Madonna and Child. Huejotzingo Codex, on Amalt paper, 1531. Harkness Collection. MS. Division, Library of Congress,
on-line Exhibit, 1492: An Ongoing Voyages

February 4: Rural Work
1) *Excerpts, Frederika Bremer, The Homes of the New World
2) Ronda E. Rheddock, "Women & Slavery-Caribbean: Feminist Perspective"
3) Kathleen Myers, A Nun's Account: Family Life in Colonial Mexico
4) *José de Gálvez, Decree, 1766

February 6: Caste & Class:
The Multi-ethnic Plebe (Mestizaje)

1) Patricia Seed, Social Dimensions of Race: Mexico City, 1753
2) *City Council of Caracas, Pardos in the Colony (1795)

Recommended Additional Reading
*Burkholder & Johnson, Ch. 4, "Population & Labor"
*Marietta Morrissey, "A Theoretical Overview" in Slave Women in the New World (1989).

Return to Top

Week 4: Race, Class & Gender in Colonial Cuba

February 11
: Martínez Alier, Marriage, Class & Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba, 1-81
February 13: Martínez Alier, Marriage, Class & Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba, 82-142

Miguel Cabrera  [Mexican], From Spaniard and Mulatto, Morisca, 1763

From Yasmín Ramírez,"New World Orders" on Artnet

Part 2:  Post-Independence Transformations  
Courret: Indians, Peru, ca. 1865-75
(Photos courtesy of Prof. N. Jacobsen, Early Images of
Latin America
Week 5: From Indians to Peasants to Citizens

February 18:
Simón Bolívar: Message to the Congress at Angostura, 1819 (Alternate site: click here)
2) José María Morelos, "Sentiments of the Nation: Chilpancingo, Mexico (1813)
3) Matto da Turner, Torn From the Nest, xiii-xlvi; 1-75
February 20:
1) Matto da Turner, Torn from the Nest, 79-174

Return to Top

Week 6: From Slavery to Freedom to Citizenship:

February 25: Race, Class & Economic Citizenship: Brazil & Haiti:
1) *Carolyn Fick, "Emancipation in Haiti: From Plantation Labour to Peasant Proprietorship"
2) George Reid Andrews, "Black & White Workers in Sao Paõlo, Brazil, 1888-1928"
February 27 Gender & Political Citizenship: Southern Cone
1) *Asunción Lavrin, "Labor & Feminism: Foundations of Change," AND "Reform of the
Civil Codes: The Pursuit of Legal Equality"

August Riedel: Review of slaves and employees at São João d'El-Rei Gold Mining Company, Morro Velho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1860s

(Photo: Prof. N. Jacobsen,
Early Images of Latin America

Part 3: The 20th Century: New Approaches


Marc Ferrez: Vendor "Types" of Rio de Janeiro, ca. 1865-1880.

(Photos courtesy of Prof. N. Jacobsen, Early Images of Latin America)

Week 7: Eugenics & the 20th Century: Race, Class & Gender

March 4:
Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics, pp.1-62

March 6:
Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics, pp. 63-135

FILM: The Forgotten Village

Week 8: Brazil: The Myth of Racial Democracy

March 11:
1) *Emilia Viotti da Costa, "The Myth of Racial Democracy"
2) *Gilberto Freyre, The Masters & the Slaves (excerpts)
March 13:
1) *John Burdick, Blessed Anastacia
2) *Peggy A. Lovell, "Women & Racial Inequality at work in Brazil"

Boy and nanny, 1850s.

Prof. N. Jacobsen,
Early Images of Latin America

WEEK 9: SPRING BREAK (March 18, 20)

Diego Rivera, Cortes & La Malinche

Week 10: Race Class & Gender: A Comparison
March 25: Tang Visit: Kara Walker

March 27:
Review sources for and begin work on final papers.

Weeks 11/12: Indigenous Issues: Mexico, Guatemala, South America
April 1: Mexico
1) *Vasconcelos, A Cosmic Race (Excerpt);
2) *R. Aida Hernández Castillo, "Zapatismo & the Emergence of Indigenous Feminism"
3) Zapatistas: First Declaration (1994); Fifth Declaration (1998)


Wedding couples: working class couple, Goias, Brazil ca. 1950; Guatemala, 1910s.
(Photos courtesy of Prof. N. Jacobsen, Early Images of Latin America)

April 3:
1) I, Rigoberta Menchú (excerpts)
2) Smith, "Race-Class-Gender Ideology in Guatemala: Modern and Anti-Modern Forms (723-725; 730-747)

April 8: South America's Indigenous Populations on the Move
1) *Eve Kushner, "Japanese Peruvians: Reviled & Respected: The Paradoxical Place of Peru's Nikkei",
2) *Soledad Ortega, "In Search of the Chilean Paradise: Peruvians in Chile Forge a Community"


Weeks 12/13: Masculinity & Mestizaje
April 10:
Marisol de la Cadena, "Indigenous Mestizos, "Class, Masculinity & Mestizaje: New Incas & Old Indians"

Sebastian Rodriguez:
Miner's Funeral, Morococha, Peru, ca. 1928.
Chinese coolie laborer on sugar cane plantation, Chicamita, Peru, 1860s or 1870s.
(Photos courtesy of Prof. N. Jacobsen, Early Images of Latin America)

April 15:
Thomas Miller Klubock, "Working-Class Masculinity, Middle-Class Morality, and Labor Politics in the Chilean Copper Mines"

Haitian Cane Worker in Dominican Republic

Week 13-15: Caribbean: Race, Class & Gender in a Neoliberal Age

April 17: Haiti & the Dominican Republic: Negritude & Hispanidad
1) Silvio Torres-Saillant, "The Tribulations of Blackness"
2) *Deborah Pacini Hernández, "The Merengue: Race, Class, Tradition & Identity"
3) *Aimé Césaire, "Negritude"

Recommended Additional Reading:
*Eric Williams, *"Racism in the Caribbean"
*David Howard, "Dominican Republic Spurns Haitian Migrants…"
*Casandra Badillo, "Only My Hairdresser Knows for Sure: Stories of Race, Hair & Gender"

April 22: Yelvington, Producing Power: Ethnicity, Gender & Class in a Caribbean Workplace
April 24: Yelvington, Producing Power: Ethnicity, Gender & Class in a Caribbean Workplace

Week 15: Conclusion
April 29: Yelvington, Producing Power: Ethnicity, Gender & Class in a Caribbean Workplace

Monday, May 5 (Evening): Presentation of Final Papers


Police arrest a woman protesting the celebration of 500 years of Brazil, Coroa Vermelha (BA)
Pataxó Indian observes battle of the shock-police in Coroa Vermelha.

Return to Top


Background Readings
These works are on reserve at Scribner Library, and have been included for your information only.  If you are interested in pursuing how historians have discussed race in the Americas, or general texts on Latin American history, see:

Foundational Texts-Race, Class & Ethnicity
Borah, Woodrow, “Race & Class in Mexico,” Pacific Historical Review 23:4 (1954):331-342 (Periodicals)

Harris, Marvin, Patterns of Race in the Americas  (NY: Norton, 1974)  (
Call No: F1419.A1 H3)
Mörner, Magnus, Race & Class in Latin America (NY: Columbia U. Press, 1970) (Call No: F1419.A1 C65 1965)

Latin American History
Benjamin Keen, A History of Latin America, 5th Edition, 1996 (or 6th, 2000)  (Scribner has 1986, F1408.3 .K44 1986)

Peter Winn, Americas (Call No. F1414 .W56 1999)

Stanley and Barbara Stein, Colonial Heritage of Latin America (Call No. HC125 .S76)

Leslie Bethell, ed., Colonial Spanish America (Call No. F1410 .C1834)

Thomas Skidmore, Modern Latin America (Call No.  F1413 .S55 1984)


Frank Solomon, Huarochiri, A Peruvian Culture in Time

Alexander von Humboldt, Problems & Progress in Mexico, ca 1800


Return to Top

Prof. Dym Home Page Skidmore Homepage History Homepage