PS 100 Gender, Power and Politics in Latin America

From Dora María Tellez (one of three commanders of the Sandinista Revolutionary Army’s take-­‐over of the Nicaraguan National Palace in 1978) to Dilma Rousseff  (the once revolutionary and now President of Brazil) women have played dramatic and important roles in Latin American politics. How is it that women have climbed to the greatest rungs of power in a region that is predominantly Catholic and historically conservative?  What are traditional gender relations in Latin America and how are they changing?  What roles have women – and more generally gender – played in the distinct regime types that Latin America has experienced since the mid-­‐20th century? These are some of the questions that this seminar will explore.  We will begin by understanding what gender is and how it has historically shaped social and political relations in Latin America.  We will then analyze the relationship between gender, women and three specific political regime types in the region:  revolutionary, authoritarian and democratic regimes. We will explore ways that gender is used by particular regimes and how it shapes transitions between regimes. Of special interest will be the political mobilization of women (on the political left and right) within or against these regimes. Throughout, we will be attentive to the struggles of particular groups of women in Latin America, such as working class, indigenous and queer women and how “intersectionality” plays out in Latin American feminist politics.

This seminar forms part of a First-­‐year Interest Group (FIG) cluster of courses. In this synthesizing seminar, students will be exposed to theories and empirical studies with regard to women, gender and politics in Latin America.  Autobiographical and documentary film sources will be used to enliven our investigation of key places, people and issues.  We will also engage in a few outside-­‐of-­‐class events related to artistic and cultural aspects of Latin America. A primary objective of the seminar is to encourage first year students to develop skills, study habits and relationships that will foster success throughout their college years. The seminar is paired with two other courses:  History 242, Modern Latin America 1898 to Present, and a Spanish or Portuguese language course appropriate to individual student’s language level. In History 242, students will gain a foundational understanding the major trends and issues in Latin America in the 20th century. In students’ chosen language courses, students will hone their Spanish or Portuguese skills to enable future study and travel in the Latin America region.