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Geography 395 page 1

Geography 395 - 2014

An Introduction to Latin Americas
Changing Cultural Landscapes
Tuesdays/Thursdays 11:00-12:20

Dr. Juanita Sundberg

TA: Esteban Izquierdo

Office hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays 1:30-3:00
RM 125 -- 822-3535


Everyday, most of you probably engage with Latin American nature & society in some form as food, drink, natural
landscape, or tourist destination. Perhaps your day begins with coffee. Or, maybe you fantasize about traveling to
Costa Ricas tropical forests or Ecuadors indigenous highlands. Have you ever wondered how your fantasies, desires,
and consumption practices interact with and impact Latin American people and environments?

In this course, we examine how past and present geographical imaginaries and political economies effect changes in
cultural landscapes in the region conventionally called Latin America. Our premise for the course is that cultural
landscapes tell us about and play a part in (re)producing power relationships in society. Thus, an analysis of
indigenous, colonial and post-colonial landscapes in terms of land use & resource regulation as well as production &
consumption practices will also reveal the ways in which power relations are constituted and contested at local,
national and international scales. Examining the past will enable us to better analyze the present politico-economic
connections between our everyday lives and those of Latin American people.

In addition to its content, this course addresses the politics and practices of producing written knowledge about Latin
America. Who produces such knowledge? How do past and present power geometries inform how narratives are
constructed and what is considered to be a legitimate topic of analysis? What writing styles are used in the discipline of
geography to legitimate knowledge? Must such styles erase the authors geographical biography, experiences, and
voice? This course will guide you through these questions and support your efforts to develop your own voice in
research and writing through low-stakes, in-class writing exercises as well as writing assignments.

The course is organized around the following themes:
! The Geopolitics of Knowledge
! The Creation Of America & The Production Of Nature
! Coloniality/Modernity & The Making Of The Modern World
! State-making & Neo/Liberal Governance
! Latin American Alternatives

Your responsibilities include:
! Attending lectures & taking notes
! Reading weekly article(s)
! Taking a map quiz
! Participating in 2 in-class writing exercises
! Participating in 3 in-class discussion (and turning in written notes)
! Writing two short essays (5 pages)
! Writing a 10-page commodity chain analysis of a commodity originating in Latin America

Geography 395 page 2
Your grade will be calculated as follows:
Map quiz 6%
2 in-class writing exercises (4% each) 8%
3 in-class discussions (2% each) 6%
2 short essays (20% each) 40%
Commodity Chain 40%
For a total of 100%

This course is managed on Connect at You must have a Campus Wide Login account to
access information about course assignments, grading criteria & grades. Detailed instructions for the assignments will
be discussed in class and will be available on Connect. In-class writing exercises are turned in at the end of class and
will be returned to you with written comments; each exercise is worth 4% of your final mark and will be evaluated
based upon level of engagement and effort. In-class discussions involve debating course topics with your peers and
turning in a written description or notes of discussion; each exercise is worth 2% of your final mark and will be
evaluated on level of engagement and effort. You are expected to prepare for in-class exercises and discussions by
doing the reading. And, you must be in class for in-class exercises & discussions; exceptions will be made ONLY if
you have a doctors note. Essay #1 is due October 11
at midnight and covers readings from September 9 to 30.
Essay #2 is due November 8
and covers readings from October 2 to November 6. The Commodity Chain is due
December 10
. Essays should be submitted on Connect by midnight on the due date.

Your teaching assistant is Esteban Izquierdo; he will hold office hours at key moments during the semester. You
also may contact him with questions at:

I will respond to questions via email; I will respond as soon as I can (within 24 hours); however, I cannot guarantee an
immediate response. Before writing, check instructions available on Connect.

Readings are available ON-LINE through UBC Library e-journals or e-books.

The Geographic Information Center, RM 112 offers access to computers, books, videos, and reserve materials,
including an excellent collection of books about Latin American commodities.

For grading policies, regulations, and standards at UBC, please visit these UBC websites:,42,96,0

You are expected to follow UBCs guidelines for academic honesty and integrity. Please consult the UBC website
for detailed information.,286,0,0

Policies for Attendance & Missed or Late Assignments
Regular attendance is expected of all students. I will accept late assignments IF you have discussed the reason with me
PRIOR to the due date or you bring a doctors note. In-class exercises and discussions must be completed in class
unless you have discussed the reason with me PRIOR to the due date or you bring a doctors note. The university is
committed to supporting students who might experience difficulty during the semester. Please contact Student Health
Service and Counseling Services if you find yourself in a difficult situation, which is causing you to miss class and
assignments. You also should contact your dean or director as soon as possible to request an academic concession.,48,0,0

The University provides academic accommodation to students with disabilities; contact the Disability Resource


September 2 Imagine UBC - No Classes
Geography 395 page 3


September 4 Introduction to Cultural Geographies of Latin America

September 9 Area Studies & the Politics of Producing Knowledge
Sundberg, J. 2009. Latin America. Dictionary of Human Geography. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 412-414.

September 11 Whose Knowledge Counts in Geographies of Latin America?
Raffles, H. 2002. Intimate Knowledge. International Social Science Journal 54(3): 325-335.
IN-CLASS DISCUSSION & WRITING EXERCISE: Writing Embodied Geographical Imaginaries

September 16 Coloniality/Modernity & Latin American Studies
Mignolo, W. 2003. Globalization and the Geopolitics of Knowledge: The Role of the Humanities in the
Corporate University. Nepantla: Views from South 4.1: 97-119


September 18 Guest Lecture: Sandra Moran on womens struggles in post-war Guatemala
Sandra Moran is the Guatemalan Representative on the World March of Women, a coordinator of the Guatemalan
Women's Sector, and a member of the ArteSana Collective. Check out Sandra singing/drumming: the
Women of Maiz,

September 23 The Politics of Studying Indigenous Land Use in 1491
Bush, M. & M. Silman. 2007. Amazonian exploitation revisited: ecological asymmetry & the policy
pendulum. Frontiers in Ecology & Environment 5(9): 457-465.


September 25: Indigenous Societies, Land Use, and Trade in Mesoamerica in 1500
Sluyter, A. 2006. Humboldt's Mexican Texts and Landscapes. Geographical Review 96(3): 361381.

September 30 Cultural Politics of Conservation in the Americas
Blaser, M. 2009. The Threat of the Yrmo: The political ontology of a sustainable hunting program. American
Anthropologist 111(1), 10-20.


October 2 The Coloniality of Knowledge & the Spanish Conquest
Chapin, M. 2008. The Meaning of Columbus Day. World Watch 21(6): 8-17.

October 7 Spanish Colonialism & Biological Imperialism
Carney, J. 2013. Seeds of Memory: Botanical Legacies of the African Diaspora, in African Ethnobotany in the
Americas, ed. by R. Voeks & J. Rashford, pp. 13-33. Springer New York, NY, NY.

October 9 Geographies & Architecture of Spanish power
SilverMoon and Innis, M. 2008. The View of the Empire from the Altepetl: Nahua Historical and Global
Imagination. In Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissance
Empires, ed. by Greer, M. R. Quilligan, M., Mignolo, W.
Geography 395 page 4

October 13 Thanksgiving Day. University Closed.

October 14 Colonial populations & the New Racial Order
Scott, H. V. 2012. The contested spaces of the subterranean: Colonial governmentality, mining, and the mita
in early Spanish Peru. Journal of Latin American Geography 11(2), 7-33.

October 16 The Emergence of New Global Appetites
Jamieson, R. W. 2001. The essence of commodification: Caffeine dependencies in the early modern world.
Journal of Social History 35(2), 269-294.


October 21 Theorizing Commodity Chains
Pereira, L. 2010. Becoming coca: A materiality approach to a commodity chain analysis of hoja de coca in
Colombia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 31(3): 384400.

October 23 Coloniality, Race & Nation
Stetson, G. 2012. Oil Politics and Indigenous Resistance in the Peruvian Amazon: The Rhetoric of
Modernity Against the Reality of Coloniality. The Journal of Environment & Development 21.1 76-97.

October 28 US Imperialism, Commodity Production & Violence
Colby, J. M. 2006. Banana growing and negro management: Race, labor, and Jim Crow colonialism in
Guatemala, 18841930. Diplomatic History 30(4), 595-621.

October 30 Bananas & the Making of the Modern World
In-class video on bananas

November 4 US Imperialism & the Emergence of Neoliberalism
Letelier, O. 1976. Chicago Boys in Chile, Economic Freedoms Awful Toll. The Nation 223(5): 137-142.

November 6 NAFTA, U.S. Border Enforcement & Migrant Deaths
Nevins, J. 2007. Dying for a cup of coffee? Migrant deaths in the US-Mexico border region in a Neoliberal
age. Geopolitics 12(2): 228-247.


November 11 Remembrance Day University Closed

November 13 NAFTA & Agricultural Migrant Workers in Canada
In-class film: El Contrato. 2003. National Film Board of Canada.
IN-CLASS WRITING EXERCISE: Re-Thinking Commodity Chains

November 18 Neoliberalization & the War on Drugs in the Americas
Corva, D. 2008. Neoliberal globalization and the war on drugs: Transnationalizing illiberal governance in the
Americas. Political Geography 27(2): 176193.

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November 20 Movements for Alternative Trade & Production Systems
In-class film: Tambin la lluvia. 2010. Director: Icar Bollan.
Goodman, MK. 2004. Reading fair trade: political ecological imaginary and the moral economy of fair trade
foods. Political Geography 23: 891915.

November 25 Reconfiguring the Nation: Movements for Plurinationalism
Cupples, J., & Glynn, K. 2014. Indigenizing and Decolonizing Higher Education on Nicaragua's Atlantic
coast. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35(1), 56-71.

November 27 Reconfiguring the Nation: Indigenous Models
Villalba, U. 2013. "Buen vivir" vs. development: A paradigm shift in the Andes? Third World Quarterly 34(8),

November 29 Global Geographies of Zapatismo
Abigail, A. 2011. How Activists Take Zapatismo Home: South-to-North Dynamics in Transnational
Social Movements Latin American Perspectives 38: 138-152

For news & analysis, see the following sites:
Narco News reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America
The North American Congress on Latin America
Americas Policy Program
Global Exchange
Council of Canadians
Free documentaries many about Latin America -
El Proceso Mexicos leading intellectual journal
La Jornada A Mexican daily newspaper
The National Security Archive analyzes declassified documents