Term Project

Term Project: There are four components to this project:

  • Project proposal—due Feb. 8th.
  • Annotated bibliography—due March 27th.
  • Class presentation—presentation schedule—Weeks 13-15.
  • Final written research paper—due Wed. April 26th.

Students are required to write a twelve to fifteen page research paper on a Latin American topic of your choice. These topics (listed below) only represent examples of potential topics. You are not limited to this list:

  • Consider the public monuments commemorating the arrival of Juan de Oñate to New Mexico in 1598. Do these monuments belong in public places or in a museum? What is the role of public monuments in contested lands such as the American Southwest?
  • Explore the Brazilian musical expression of Samba. How did it inform Brazilian categories of identity? How did it evolve from ‘street music’ and associated with lower classes into the national spectacle it has become?
  • Explore the origins and legacy of chicanos, chicanismo, and chicano politics. To what extent is it relevant in today’s political sphere?
  • Explore the contours of populism and populist politics in Latin America? What differentiates Latin American expressions of it from European expressions? Why does it endure like it does in Latin America? Be sure to narrow your focus on one or two examples to state your case.
  • Examine the role that the Vizcainos (Basques) played in the settlement and development of the new world. To what extent did they benefit from their standing as a minority ethnic group? To what extent did it represent a liability?
  • Analyze Isabel Allende’s classic novel, The House of the Spirits. What literary innovations does she introduce? What are the parallels that bind together Latin America’s unique history with its imaginative sensibilities?
  • Explore modern environmental movements in Latin America and compare them against their counterparts in the US. Are they influenced by the same set of concerns? What are the intellectual underpinnings that predominate? You should limit your focus to a particular nation.
  • Explore the Brazilian concept of ‘Racial Democracy.’ To what extent is this idea historically based? What does it tell us about the Brazilian view of its own racial history? Is it an accurate representation of the past?
  • Examine the concept of indigenismo as it evolved in the Mexican Revolution. To what extent was it based on historical antecedents? To what extent does it represent something new? How is it different from Indianismo?
  • Analyze the Spanish Inquisition as it unfolded in the new world. How was it different from old world expressions of it? What role(s) did it fill in the new world – politically and in terms of social identity?
  • Examine the role of convents and nunneries in Latin America. What social functions did these institutions provide? What do they tell us about the Latin American hierarchies of gender, race, and social class?
  • Explore the role of Franco society in 19thcentury Latin America. Why did they make inroads, particularly among the urban elite classes? How did it influence expressions of culture and nationalism? What did its influence wane at the start of the 20th century?
  • Examine the plight of crypto-Jews in Latin America during the colonial period. To what extent were they accepted? What strategies did they use to adapt and resist persecution?
  • Examine the life and works of Junipero Serra. Was he a villain or a hero? What does the debate tell us about racial/ethnic politics in California today?
  • Explore the music of the Garifuna people who live along the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. How is it different from other Latin American musical expressions? What does this music tells us about the constant, trans-Atlantic musical exchange?
  • Consider the appeal that baseball holds for many Latin American populations. How was this sport incorporated into these societies and how is the Latin American experience of baseball different from the US? Why did it take hold in some regions but not in others?
  • Explore Japanese emigration to Latin America (to Brazil and Argentina) post-1945. What sort of society did they attempt to emulate/duplicate in the wake of WWII?
  • Examine the role that Paul Farmer and Partners in Health play in reframing perceptions of Latin America to the industrialized world. What are the strengths and liabilities associated with the convergence of politics, economies, and public health?
  • Examine the role of syncretism in forming religious ideas in Latin America. How did the Virgen Maria bridge religious philosophies and create national, class, ethnic, and regional identities?
  • Consider Eco-tourism as a viable economic pathway in Latin America? What are the benefits and specific challenges associated with the preservation of natural resources as an avenue for economic growth? Be sure to focus on a specific region/nation in Latin America.
  • Analyze the life of Catalina de Erauso – the Lieutenant Nun. What does her story tell us about the way that honor and gender were constructed in 17thcentury Spanish America?
  • Analyze the notion of Dependency Theory as it relates to Latin America. How did it come about and to what extent is it relative today?
  • Analyze Latino voting patterns as they affect the 2020 election. Choose an ethnic, national, or regional designation to focus your analysis.
  • Consider how the Covid pandemic will alter sociopolitical trends in Latin America going forward. Be sure to focus on a theme or particular country for your analysis.

There cannot be more than one student per research topic and no joint papers or presentations will be accepted. I am willing to consider alternate research topics that are not listed above.

Final Paper:  All final papers will be at least 12 pages in length; they must have a title, numbered pages, your name, citations (if applicable), and a date. Margins should be one inch on the top, left, right, and bottom. Late papers will be lowered a letter grade for each subsequent class period after the due date. Anyone caught plagiarizing or submitting work not their own will receive an “F” for the class. If you have any questions or doubts about citing someone else’s work or ideas, please come and talk to me. All citations should conform to the ‘Chicago Style’ (endnotes or footnotes).

Presentation of Term Project. Each student will prepare a 15 minute presentation of their research topic as part of their overall grade for this project. Student presentations are scheduled for the last 3 weeks of classes. We will work out a viable schedule of presentations well in advance. Your grade will be determined from a matrix that includes the following categories: time management, clarity, content, and projection.

Term Paper Rubric

Term Paper Rubric categories for grading purposes:

  1. Strength of proposal and thesis questions.
  2. Evidence: strength of sources.
  3. Analysis, clarity, and organization.
  4. Strength of synthesis/conclusion
  5. Mechanics: spelling, grammar, proper citation style.
  6. Papers are uploaded without format issues, on time and as Word.docs.