Online Introduction to Latin America

History, Diversity, and Community in Texts, Images, and Sounds

William H. Beezley

The Online Introduction to Latin America provides a primer that explores this fascinating region, demonstrating its absorbing histories of empires, colonies, enclaves, and nations; its vast diversity of peoples, landscapes, animals, plants, and cultures; and its multitudinous communities of nations, ethnicities, and localities. This syllabus offers a guide to readings and additional sources from the standard text Modern Latin America, Eighth Edition (Oxford, 2013), written by Thomas E. Skidmore, Peter H. Smith, and James N. Green.  The syllabus further explores the region’s diversity by drawing on video episodes from In the Americas with David Yetman (American Public Broadcasting),  and audio recordings and descriptions that deliver the sounds of it all, with links to musical selections from Oxford Music Online (subscription required),  the Smithsonian Latino Center,  and the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music.  These major sources are augmented with specific essays from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, additional videos and podcasts, and supplemental recordings. 

Each lesson follows the sixteen-chapter outline of the Modern Latin America text. Besides featuring the organizing principles offered by the text, the marvelous diversity depicted in the videos, and the sounds reproduced in the recordings, this Online Introduction places emphasis on the various communities that Latin Americans have built from shared nationality and ethnicity. Lessons also include two optional sections: “Added Dimensions,” which offer more complete political and economic information than what is available in the Modern Latin America text, and “For the Curious,” which illustrates the rich diversity, character, and heritage of Latin America. Successfully completing the Online Introduction will provide a bountiful source of information, experiences, and reactions, giving users valuable context for understanding the region.

For students using the Online Introduction as a course, or for individuals who belong to discussion groups about Latin America, each lesson includes a “Learner’s Practicum” that provides specific assignments suitable for individual study or collaborative work.


Part 1: Introduction to Latin America

READ Modern Latin America, Chapter 1: “Why Latin America?” pp. 3–15.

  • Give particular attention to the section called “Ideas and Themes,” pp. 12–14.

     Added Dimension  “State of Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) (2010).

For the Curious   Mary Kalin T. Arroyo et al., “Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Assessment of Knowledge, Research Scope, and Priority Areas,” in Science for a Better Life: Developing Regional Scientific Programs in Priority Areas for Latin America and the Caribbean, Volume 1 (2010); Laura Tlaiye, “Expanding Financing for Biodiversity Conservation: Experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean,” World Bank Occasional Paper Series (2012).

WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman

These video episodes of In the Americas demonstrate that the Caribbean region offers a microcosm of Latin America, with a megacity and rural life (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), ethnic and cultural diversity (Trinidad and Tobago), African ethnic and cultural influences (throughout the region), populations from outside Spain and Portugal (the Dutch islands), and biotic diversity (throughout the episodes).

LISTEN and VIEW   The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Folkways, and the Smithsonian Latino Center have created a virtual exhibition featuring the diversity of Latin American and Latino music.

LEARNER’S PRACTICUM   For each lesson, please consider what the topic and sources mean to you, what information they provide, what new ideas they stimulate. Then, write at least 500 words or display in digital form your judgments with careful analysis and thoughtful revision, in one of the following formats: 

  • An essay as a formal report.
  • A personal blog that you may continue throughout the course.  This will enable you to write, if you choose, in a more informal style, and you can quickly review your thinking from various lessons. 
  • An e-mail addressed to a friend or family member about your intellectual journey through Latin America. This format can allow you to adopt a friendly style and to write in the first person.
  • Digital response: Using an online digital program such as 123D,  SketchUp, Mapbox, Piktochart, StoryMap, or Moovly (all are available to users free of charge), create an interactive response, such as an interactive map of human, musical, or natural diversity, or an infographic that uses chronological and spatial changes to demonstrate relationships, or an animated example of the theme. This may be developed over several or all of the lessons. 


(Choose one of the following. Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Which of the themes discussed by the authors of the text, and alluded to by the host of the video episodes, seems the most relevant to providing an understanding of the region? Give specific examples that  demonstrate why it is appealing, and identify at least three reasons why it seems interesting, significant, and appropriate.  
  2. After reading, watching, listening, and thinking, do you believe the region is too diverse to be called Latin America? Why might the label be inappropriate? Do you have other suggestions?  Why is it accurate enough to serve? Use examples to support your conclusion.
  3. What surprised you about the introductory material on Latin America?  What five questions did this surprise inspire? What are supporting examples? Are there contradictory ones?
  4. Which of the themes seem most intriguing for a discussion with friends or family about Latin American diversity and identity? Give three reasons with examples that account for this conclusion.  


Part 2: Colonial Foundations

READ    Modern Latin America, Chapter 2: “The Colonial Foundations,” pp. 16–44.

     Added Dimension Interview with Terence D’Altroy by Peter Tyson. “Rise of the Inca,” NOVA (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007).

WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman


Read the “Introduction to Latin American Music” on Oxford Music Online. Themes include 1. The conquest and the colonial period; 2. Indigenous music before and after the conquest; 3. Mestizo musics; 4. African-derived music; and 5. Iberian influences. 

Listen to the associated recordings described in this selection by choosing three musical performances representing indigenous, Afro-colonial, and Spanish music of the period. Recommendations include “Hanacpachap cussicuinin,”  “Xicochi, xicochi,” bata drumming and Orisha rhythms, música guajira, and the Gavotte in B Minor by J. S. Bach.

Listen to Bernard Gordillo’s Music of Spanish Colonial Latin America and Luann Johnson’s A Baroque Christmas in the New World

For the Curious  Examine and listen to the music discussed in Mexico: Music of Pre-Columbian Origin.  This collection surveys the archive of indigenous Mexican records housed at the National Indigenous Institute, (Instituto Nacional Indigena—INI). Its focus is the musical traditions that have remained intact since pre-Columbian times.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises.)

  1. Did music make the conquest more than military victories and forced conversions? Or did music provide a method of resistance against European domination? Or did it serve in both ways, even in some cases for the same individuals? 
  2. How do the video episodes demonstrate the character of Maya culture and its legacy, or the Inca culture and its legacy?
  3. Were there characteristics of the Maya or Inca civilizations that contributed to the manner of Spanish conquest? What characteristics of Maya or Inca culture contributed to Spanish and European awe for these societies?  Does the survival of the Maya or Inca cultures demonstrate that the conquest was only superficial and little more than cursory political domination?
  4. What did the colonizing peoples bring to the Americas? What did the Americas send back to Spain, Portugal, and Europe?
  5. How did the conquest and colonial years change European understanding of the world? Did it increase understanding of diversity, or did it hinder thinking about the world’s fantastic features?


Part 3: Mexico: The Taming of a Revolution

READ   Modern Latin America, Chapter 3: “Mexico: The Taming of a Revolution,” pp. 47–78.

     Added Dimension  Jürgen Buchenau, “The Mexican Revolution, 1910–1946,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.


WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman 

LISTEN  Oxford Music Online entry “Latin America”. 

Section I: “Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean,” and Section III: “Afro-American Music.” Watch and listen to “A Mexican Sound: A Documentary about Mexico's Mountain Music,” directed by Roy Germano (2013), and “Mexico: Days of Struggle,” by Judith Reyes (1973), courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways. Be certain to download the liner notes. 

For the Curious   Mexican life has been recorded in numerous collections of photographs. For additional information about one such collection available online, see Jonathan Saxon,“Digital Resource: Getty Research Institute Digital Exhibitions and Portals for Mexico,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Explanations of the course of Mexican history examine the intense regionalism of the nation, the intervention of foreign powers such as France and the United States, corruption of the political system, and the asymmetry of wealth and poverty, among other arguments. Based on the readings, videos, and audio material, discuss in some form the dimensions of Mexico’s history.
  2. Mexico is regarded as a Roman Catholic society. Discuss the role of the church in the nation’s history, with specific examples. 
  3. Fireworks, music, and markets festoon everyday Mexican life. Consider whether these and other aspects of popular culture reflect the national history and culture. If you conclude they do not, what do they     represent? 
  4. Consider the title of the text chapter, “The Taming of a Revolution,” and discuss whether it adequately describes the sequence of Mexican history. 
  5. An alternative question for the curious who consulted the Getty Research Collection: select and write an analysis of one the photographs from this portal.  (For the inexperienced, Jonathan Saxon’s detailed instructions on how to do this are included in the Appendix).  


Part 4: Central America: Within the U.S. Orbit

READ   Modern Latin America, Chapter 4: “Central America: Within the U.S. Orbit,” pp. 79–111.

     Added DimensionAugusto C. Sandino,” available at

WATCH  In the Americas with David Yetman

LISTEN  Oxford Music Online entry “Latin America” 

Section III: “Afro-American Music,” subsection 1. Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Listen to “Songs and Dances of Honduras,” and download the liner notes; listen to “Music of the Miskito Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua,” and download the liner notes. 

For the Curious  The Pros and Cons of Ecotourism in Costa Rica” by Julie Dasenbrock, in TED Case Studies (2002). 




(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss the positive, negative, and at times counterproductive results of U.S. individuals and influences on the countries of Central America.
  2. Discuss how the sources (reading, listening, and viewing) illustrate the diversity of Central America. 
  3. Can social media contribute to mobilization of political or environmental groups in Central America? If so, how?
  4. Julie Dasenbrok wrote the TED essay on ecotourism in 2002. After reading it carefully, search for more recently published articleson ecotourism, and discuss how to revise this essay. Are the major conclusions, both pros and cons, still valid?
  5. How can the legacy of coffee, bananas, and Sandino in Central America be represented in a mosaic infographic? 


Part 5: Cuba: Key Colony, Socialist State

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 5: “Cuba: Key Colony, Socialist State,” pp. 112–142.

     Added Dimension  The Castro Speech Database, available from the LLILAS Benson Digital Collections, the University of Texas, provides full texts in English-language translation of speeches, interviews, and press conferences by Fidel Castro This archive stores the records of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS),  the government agency that monitored broadcast and print media around the world. There are more than 2,000 texts covering the 37 years from1959 to 1996. For an introduction to this and other digital sources in this library, see Kent Norsworthy, “Digital Resources: The Digital Initiatives of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, University of Texas at Austin,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.

WATCH  In the Americas with David Yetman 

  • Episode 602, “Cuba: Havana,” (episode forthcoming).
  • Episode 603, “Cuba: The East of the Island,” (episode forthcoming). 

LISTEN  History of Cuban Music” from the World Music Network  

For the Curious  “Rumberas y Vedettes.”  Jennifer Molina wrote, directed and produced this program about  Cuban women (mostly from Havana) who briefly became stars in cabarets and Mexican films during the 1940s and 1950s. The women had a significant, but understated influence in Cuban popular culture. The genre of the Vedettes/Rumberas ended with the Cuban revolution (2013).



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Randomly select five speeches by Fidel Castro from different dates, and determine if they contain common themes (a revolutionary discourse, you might say). How does Castro demonstrate knowledge of both domestic problems and international politics? Discuss these themes. 
  2. How do the videos show the effects of the U.S. embargo of Cuba?
  3. Describe the diversity and international appeal of Cuban culture, especially through its music.
  4. Discuss Cuban-United States relationships prior to the 1959 revolution.
  5. Develop a Cuban map with points that can be clicked to provide historical, cultural, revolutionary, or biodiversity information.


Part 6: The Andes (Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador): Soldiers, Oligarchs, and Indians

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 6: “The Andes (Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador): Soldiers, Oligarchs, and Indians,” pp. 143–183.

     Added DimensionShining Path, Tupac Amaru (Peru, leftists)” by Kathryn Gregory, Council on Foreign Relations (2009).

WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman

Oxford Music Online entry “Latin America.” 

Section IV. “Urban Popular Music,” subsection 2. “Specific Genres,” (ii) The urbanization of the huayno.”

Listen to “Perú: Lista de Canciones,” Bolivian Music Performance by Los Masis, and Traditional Music of Peru, Vol. 6: The Ayacucho Region; download the liner notes.

For the Curious  “The Great Peruvian Guano Bonanza: Rise, Fall, and Legacy.”



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss how food, clothing, hats, and music define Andean communities.
  2. Discuss the effects and costs of wars on the Andean nations.
  3. Describe some of the common traits that compose an Andean culture within these three nations.
  4. Discuss the raw products exports from the Andean region and the markets for them.
  5. Create a digital infographic that provides the history of rebellion and of ethnic rights in the Andes.


Part 7: Colombia: Civility and Violence

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 7: “Colombia: Civility and Violence,” pp. 184–211.

     Added Dimension Óscar Parra, “Digital Resources: Massacres and the Evolution of the Colombian War,Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.

 WATCH In the Americas with David Yetman 

LISTEN  Music of Colombia,” courtesy of Wikipedia

 This article has examples of regional styles of music embedded in it. Listen to samples at Music of Colombia Various Artists. These recordings were made in 1951 by Dr. Andrew H. Whiteford in Popayán, in southwestern Colombia. 

For the Curious   A fantastic project of the National Library in Bogotá is entitled “Cartografía de Prácticas musicales en Colombia” (Cartography of Musical Practices in Colombia). The website is in Spanish, but even those who cannot read Spanish can click to see and hear different regional musical genres of the nation. (Select specific music practices—e.g., “traditional,” “festivals,” etc.—using tabs on the introductory page. By clicking, you will be re-directed to a map, and then double click on a specific spot featured on the map; this will take you to a different window in which you can listen to regional varieties and genres).



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Evaluate how political, economic, and cultural activities demonstrate the intense regionalism of Colombia. 
  2. Read this report on Colombia as one of the world’s five mega-diverse countries.  What surprises you the most about this report? Now compare this plant and animal diversity with the regionalism identified in the other selections on Colombia, and write about the relationship. 
  3. How do you evaluate Colombia’s political and economic violence in comparison with achievements in music (Shakira, Juanes, and Vallenato), literature (Gabriel García Márquez), television (“Beti la fea”—“Ugly Betty”) and international beauty pageants? 
  4. Show how you can add biodiversity, or political or economic regionalism, to the music maps.
  5. Is the violence (with the number of persons murdered) in Colombia interpreted differently than the murders and disappearances of persons in Argentina, Chile, and Guatemala?  If so, how and why? 


Part 8:  Venezuela: The Perils of Prosperity

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 8: “Venezuela: The Perils of Prosperity,” pp. 212–235.

     Added DimensionHugo Chavez, Venezuela's Firebrand Dictator” by  Christopher Minster in About Education (2016).

WATCH  Venezuela Vacation Travel Video Guide from Expoza Travel.

LISTEN  Oxford Music Online entry “Bolivaran Republic of Venezuela” 

Under "Selected recordings" listen to: Música folklórica de Venezuela, coll. I. Aretz, A. Fernaud and L.F. Ramón y Rivera, rec. 1959–68, OCORA 78 (c1975) [incl. disc notes]; Tierra de Cacao: Afro-Venezuelan music and dance, PAN 20363D (1999) [incl. disc notes by B. Duysens].

For the Curious See video and podcasts of Afrovenezuelan music.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. The authors of the text conclude that Hugo Chávez had a great resemblance to Venezuela’s nineteenth-century caudillos. How can you support this conclusion or dispute it?
  2. The Chávez regime claimed “discernibly positive effects” (p. 234). What does the list reveal about the programs of previous regimes in the Petro era? Discuss this, if possible, in terms of different governments. 
  3. How did oil define Venezuela, in both the domestic and the international imagination, and in terms of its culture?
  4. Discuss the Orinoco river system in Venezuelan history.
  5. How can the industria petrolera be presented through digital media to illustrate its significance to Venezuela?


Part 9: Argentina: Progress, Stalemate, Discord

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 9: “Argentina: Progress, Stalemate, Discord,” pp. 236–267.

     Added Dimension View the documentary “Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” with Susana Muñoz (1986).

WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman 

LISTEN Oxford Music Online entries Tango and Tango (ii)

At the website for “Todo Tango,” listen to the music and read about the history, stars, and songs of Tango. 

For the Curious "The History of Tango" and its world popularity, (includes video and music inserts); Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto, “Rock Nacional in Argentina during the Dictatorship,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss the government of Juan Peróőn and indicate the role of Evita in his regime.
  2. Describe tango and soccer (this will require some Internet research) as the axis of Argentine culture, and how they represent the nation’s history. 
  3. Evaluate the history of the military in the nation’s history. Is it possible to discuss the military as a monolithic institution, or is it necessary to refer to the military within different contexts?
  4. Discuss the impact, with specific examples, of how Italian immigration helped to shape Argentine culture.
  5. Use digital means to represent the Pampas in Argentine history and culture. 


Part 10: Chile: Repression and Democracy

READ Modern Latin America, Chapter 10: “Chile: Repression and Democracy,” pp. 268–295.

     Added Dimension Watch “Arpilleras of Chile: Stitching the Truth,” with Marjorie Agosin; read Scraps of Life: Chilean Arpilleras: Chilean Women and the Pinochet Dictatorship (various editions).

WATCH  In the Americas with David Yetman.

LISTEN   Oxford Music Online entry “Chile.” 

Martina and Maria Eugenia Diaz, “Songs of Chile,”  2004 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings / 1957 Folkways Records (download liner notes); "Chile: Cueca" with Olga Guzman and Juan Negret (1974).

For the CuriousLa Nueva Canción: The New Song Movement in South America,” with videos and music; Oxford Music Online entry “Jara, Victor.” 



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Why did Chileans become known as the “Yankees of South America?”
  2. Use an image of an arpillera to create an interactive representation of the military regime’s repression of opponents or suspected opponents to the government.
  3. Discuss how music captured popular views of the Chilean people.
  4. Describe the different geographic zones and how they contributed to Chile’s national history.
  5. How has the Pinochet regime become a major example of efforts to correct, place on trial the guilty, and create an appropriate memory of Human Rights abuses in Latin America. 


Part 11: Brazil: The Awakening Giant

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 11: “Brazil: The Awakening Giant,” pp. 296–340.

     Added Dimension Politics of the Amazon Rainforest: “About the Amazon,” and "Look at This: Rain Forest Was Here" from National Public Radio.

 WATCH  In the Americas with David Yetman

LISTEN  Oxford Music Online entry “Brazil.” 

Listen to Luiz Bonfá’s album Solo in Rio 1959 and download the liner notes. Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways.

For the Curious Brazilian Popular Music, in three parts: Part I. The Roots of Brazilian Music discusses the three major contributions to Brazilian culture (Indian, Portuguese, and African);  Part II. From the eighteenth- century "música de barbeiros" (barber music) to the choro; Part III. A Brief History of Carnival and Its Music. For DVDs, check this site and the Sheila Thomson Collection of Brazilian Culture at Florida International University. 



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss the role of the Afro-Brazilian population in the nation’s history.
  2. How can the Amazon River and Rainforest be represented in a digital medium?
  3. Discuss regionalism in Brazilian history.
  4. Discuss the regime of Getulio Vargas and how it changed the nation’s history.
  5. How did the 2016 Olympic Games illustrate the successes and problems of contemporary Brazil?


Part 12: Strategies for Economic Development

READ   Modern Latin America, Chapter 12: “Strategies for Economic Development,” pp. 343–369.

     Added Dimension “Colombia Takes Lead in Latin American Biodiversity Offsetting.”

WATCH   In the Americas with David Yetman

LISTEN 1776 Podcast: Emerging Entrepreneurship in Latin America;” University of Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson School of  Public Affairs, “Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs,” Episode 26, “Interview with Mark Clayton Hand, Venture Partner, UnLtd USA and Adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship."

For the Curious  View Dan Duncan’s “Carioca Entrepreneurs: Masters of the Micro Economy,” (selected clips are translated, and all of the interviews are transcribed). Available from the Center for Latin American Studies, University of Arizona.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss how the micro-entrepreneurs in Rio reflect or understand a sense of their local community. 
  2. Import-substitution industrialization on its face seems to be a logical policy for economic development. Discuss its successes and its ultimate failure in Latin America. 
  3. Is there a relationship between biodiversity and entrepreneurial success?  Give examples.
  4. How can programs to alleviate or to eradicate social inequality and asymmetrical distribution of income be modeled using digital programming?


Part 13: Dynamics of Political Transformation

READ Modern Latin America, Chapter 13: “Dynamics of Political Transformation,” pp. 370–395.

     Added DimensionLatin America’s Digital Divide,” from Latin American Science, and “Gaping Digital Divide Remains in Latin America.”

WATCH   The “Democratizing Mexico’s Politics” series of video interviews with Mexican political leaders, conducted by Roderic Ai Camp, on the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History website.

LISTEN  Uruguay: ¡A desalambrar! Tear Down the Fences!” (2004) Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and download liner notes.

For the Curious Social Media and Political Mobilization: “Mexican Presidential Elections: ‘Yo Soy 132’ Movement Shows How Social Media Has Changed Politics,” courtesy of Policy Mic.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Search the Internet for more up-to-date reports on the issue of the digital divide, and discuss what has changed from the readings listed in the section “Added Dimension.” What solutions are now being proposed? 
  2. Discuss the use of music for political mobilization and opposition to repressive regimes. (Read Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto’s essay “Rock Nacional in Argentina during the Dictatorship” in the Oxford  Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History).
  3. Can you find other examples of the use of social media for mobilization? Give examples and discuss the success of the efforts. 
  4. Discuss the justifications used by political leaders for what the authors of the Modern Latin America text call “illiberal democracy.”
  5. How have leaders used popular culture, including music, to create populist regimes of both the right and left side of politics?


Part 14: Culture and Society

READ  Modern Latin America, Chapter 14: “Culture and Society,” pp. 396–430

WATCH In the Americas with David Yetman 

 LISTEN  In Brazil, Soccer Is a Way of Life” reported by Melissa Block, NPR (2013).

For the Curious MTV Tres (stylized as tr3´s)



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss the religious (especially Roman Catholic) inflection in Latin American culture. Your analysis  might consider the difference between formal and popular faith, expressed in music, instruments, meaning, and celebrations, and in popular groups such as the Folias de Reinos in Brazil, or the marujada, that combine and celebrate Portuguese maritime feats and the confrontation of Christians and Moors in which black performers dress in the white navy uniforms of Brazil. 
  2. Sport has a tremendous presence in Latin America (soccer, baseball, boxing, and professional women’s wrestling).  Compare the conclusions of the reading on Brazilian soccer with a reading on another sport (such as April Yoder, “Dominican Baseball and Latin American Pluralism, 1969–1974,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History).
  3. Use the Getty Research Institute portal to select a painting or group of paintings, and perform a visual analysis as described in the exercise for photographs. 
  4. Watch one of the movies from the Mexican Golden Age (these are available in numerous locations with subtitles), and discuss how the director and the actors provide the viewers with aspects of Mexican culture. For example, watch the classic “Vamanos con Pancho Villa!” available on YouTube
  5. Have developers used various Latin American cultures and stereotypes in their video games?  How successful are these games at presenting Latin American manners and mannerisms? 


Part 15: Latin America in the World Arena, 1800s–1980s

READ Modern Latin America, Chapter 15: “Latin America in the World Arena, 1800s–1980s,” pp. 431–459.

     Added Dimension The Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive Project. LLILAS Benson at the University of Texas is part of the collaborative venture that, in December 2011, resulted in the public launch of  the digital archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN). This is an essential resource available for family members of those who were disappeared, legal authorities, human rights activists, and scholars interested in Guatemala’s era of military repression from 1960 to 1996.For an introduction to this and other digital sources, see Kent Norsworthy, “Digital Resources: The Digital Initiatives of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, University of Texas at Austin,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.

WATCH   The Modern Latin America text does not consider specifically environmental questions. Watch the In the Americas with David Yetman episodes for Brazil: 

LISTEN  Sounds of the Cold War: “Radio Moscow and the Western Hemisphere,” (2004).  Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. 

For the Curious  Music, since the Cold War, has served to express political and social opinions, especially when other media have been closed because of censorship or repressive policies. For both this and the following chapter, listen to and watch the videos of the following performances: Mexican musical group Maná’s song “Cuando los angeles lloran;” Sting, “They Dance Alone;” Charly Garica and Serú Girán of Rock     Nacional Argentino. Listen to “Brazil: Songs of ProtestZelia Barbosa MON00717, Smithsonian folkways (download liner notes).  For a discussion of music as a voice against political repression, see Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto, “Rock Nacional in Argentina during the Dictatorship,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History.



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Discuss the U.S. and Soviet efforts to shape attitudes in Latin America during the Cold War. 
  2. Discuss the interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine by U.S. presidents to justify their policies in Latin America. How did these policies assist the U.S. government in its efforts to consolidate its influence in the  region? 
  3. Review the Radio Moscow broadcasts to Latin America. What are the common themes of the programs? How do they attempt to give a persuasive interpretation?
  4. Select one of the musical selections from this lesson and write about it in historical context. 
  5. Discuss ways to make a digital presentation of information from the Guatemalan police archives. 


Part 16:  Latin America in the World Arena, 1990s–Present

READ Modern Latin America, Chapter 16: “Latin America in the World Arena, 1990s–Present,” pp. 460–485.  

     Added Dimension Administering justice for victims of the wholesale desecration of Human Rights has become an essential feature of contemporary Latin American society and politics. The Human Rights Documentation Initiative at the LLILAS Benson at the University of Texas at Austin provides one of the most significant archives for the struggle for Human Rights around the world. It includes records from Latin America, preserved in many cases with Latin American partners. For an introduction to this and other digital sources in this library, see Kent Norsworthy, “Digital Resources: The Digital Initiatives of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, University of Texas at Austin,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History

WATCH Charting a New Course on Cuba” (includes embedded video); “The U.S.-Cuba Thaw.” 

LISTEN  Rio 2016 Olympic preparations damned as ‘worst ever’ by the International Olympic Committee,” with embedded video.           

For the Curious Communities in Transnational migrations: Christian Krohn-Hansen, “The Dominican Colmado from Santo Domingo to New York,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History; visit the website for El Museo del Barrio in New York. 



(Remember, you can devise a digital response to any of these exercises)

  1. Describe the new relationship between the United States and Cuba.. Does it suggest changes for all of Latin America?
  2. Discuss how families from different Latin American nations with members in the United States, Europe, or other countries have created transnational families and communities.
  3. Discuss human rights as one principle that must be included in the United States’ diplomatic relationships with Latin American countries. 
  4. Migration into the United States across the border with Mexico has created numerous issues of violence and crime. Read “Violence and Migration on the Arizona-Sonora Border” by Jeremy Slack and Scott Whiteford, and discuss this issue.
  5. Imagine and describe a digital program to represent the diversity of Latin America. 


Primary Source Research Analysis of Photographs7

What is a primary source? Primary sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, no matter if they appear, in micro?lm/micro?che, in digital format, or in published format.8

Steps for Finding an Image on the Getty Portal

  1. Go to the Getty Research Institute’s online exhibition, Mexico: From Empire to Revolution.
  2. Click on the “History” tab on the left side of the screen. 
  3. Scroll through the images under the “Empire & Nation” tab or the “Revolution” tab displayed on the left side of the screen. 
  4. Each numbered tab under these headings will display a series of images at the top of the screen.
  5. Click on any thumbnail image to view a larger version of that image. 
  6. Copy and paste the following information into your Word document: Image, Citation information, URL (web address) 

What Your Assignment Should Include 

  1. Cover page. 
  2. Page with image and citation information. 
  3. 3. 1½ – 2 page primary source analysis.


Think about the significance of the primary source. Ask yourself the following questions to generate ideas for your analysis of the primary source. Is the photograph tied to a specific person, event, or theme? Why do you think the photograph was produced? Who was the intended audience? What can you learn from examining the photograph? How does the source assist you in developing an understanding of a particular topic covered in the course? Is there any text in the image? Why is the image important? Is there a person in the photograph? If so, how old might they be? What is the significance of their clothing, items they may have, or their surroundings? What questions might you have about the image (who, what, when, why, or how)? All analysis information must be answered in paragraph form. 1½ - 2 pages.



1. Thomas E. Skidmore, Peter H. Smith, and James N. Green, Modern Latin America, Eighth Edition (New York: Oxford, 2013).

2. David Yetman, In the Americas with David Yetman (Tucson, AZ: The Southwest Center, University of Arizona and American Public Broadcasting: 2016).

3. Deane Root et al., eds., Grove Music Online (New York: Oxford, 2016).

4. The Smithsonian Latino Center. Capital Gallery, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 7042 MRC 512, Washington, DC 20024. July 11, 2016. 

5.UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music,” Smithsonian Folkways, accessed July 11, 2016.

6. William H. Beezley, ed., Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (New York: Oxford, 2016).

7. An exercise developed by Jonathan Saxon, Antelope Valley College, CA. Used with permission.