Spanish and Portuguese | Special Topics in Latin American and Caribbean Studies
S695 | 27211 | P. Dove

Professor Patrick Dove

S695	Special Topics in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

TR 1:00pm – 2:15pm/section# 27211/3 cr./Room TBA

In this course we will investigate the construction of “Latin
America” in academic, cultural and political discourses spanning
from the early 19th century through the present. As we will see, the
history of the name and idea of “Latin America” is far from
homogeneous. On one hand, it has been associated with the
partitioning the globe by various imperial powers (the term was
invented by the French in the mid-19th century as part of the
Bonapartist imperial project, and it later plays a prominent role in
U.S. Western Hemisphere politics). At the same time, the name “Latin
America” has been used by a number of anti-imperial projects in
order to affirm a shared sense of belonging or solidarity across
national borders.

The course will be organized around two focal points. On one hand,
we will examine the presuppositions and goals associated with the
cultural politics of regionalism. We will start by looking at two
events that precede this historical use of the term “Latin America”:
first, the Haitian Revolution of 1791 as an instance of
the “translation” of Enlightenment thought in the Americas, and
second, Simón Bolívar’s dream of a politically unified and
autonomous continent emerging from colonial dependency. Changing
focal points, we will also look at how the question of difference
or “the other” affects knowledge production. In general terms, this
will mean exploring the relation between “theory” and the social,
cultural, historical and political realities it tries to account
for. In this context we will also look at the history of the Area
Studies model, beginning with its rise during the Cold War and
ending with its current state of crisis.

Depending on the interests of participants, specific topics for
discussion may include: (1) How regionalist and pan-American
projects in Latin America have been shaped by—and in turn respond to—
key historical events, and especially threats of invasion or
domination from outside: colonialism, the expanding imperial designs
of the United States and the planetary spread of “American way of
life,” the Cold War and the Cuban Revolution, and finally the
phenomenon of chavismo in the context of neoliberal hegemony; (2)
The poetics/politics of naming, or theoretical debates about the
relation between politics and language (rhetoric, naming); (3)
Epistemological and ethical problems that arise when knowledge
production comes into contact with “the other”: What is really
happening when someone claims to speak of—or speak for—“Latin
America,” if this name is presumed to represent something radically
different from the dominant techno-scientific and techno-economic
discourses of our time? What is the relation (if any) between our
own professional practices—as scholars and researchers in the
humanities and social sciences and as Latin Americanists—and the
lived realities named by “Latin America”?

Readings include essays by Bolívar, Rodó, Martí, Vasconcelos,
Retamar, and Hopenhayn; a novel by Carpentier (El siglo de las
luces); a documentary film (“The Revolution Will Not be Televised”),
scholarly discussions of U.S. Western Hemisphere politics and Area
Studies; studies of Chávez by Gott and Wilpert; and theoretical
texts by Cornejo Polar, Derrida, C.L.R. James, Laclau, Moreiras,
O’Gorman, Ramos, Rancičre, Said, Sarlo, Searle, Spivak, and

This course meets jointly with LTAM L526.

* This course may be counted as credit towards the Spanish MA in
literature, but cannot be used as credit toward the Spanish
literature PhD.