Course Description:

The political reality in Latin America is dynamic, complex, and constantly changing. Striking shifts between democracy and authoritarianism, reform, revolution and counterrevolution, left and right governments, state-led and market-led economic development strategies have been contrasting features of Latin American politics running through history in the never-ending search for solutions to the persistent problems of political instability, poverty, and huge socio-economic disparities that make the region the world’s most unequal. The fundamental question is: why have democracy, selfsustained prosperity, and an equitable distribution of income and wealth been so difficult to accomplish in Latin America although the region has experienced profound economic, social, and political transformations over the past 100 years? This introductory course on the political history and contemporary politics of Latin America explores and explains these major themes and processes from a comparative and historical perspective that places the region’s patterns of change within an international context.