Gender, Politics, and Society in Latin America
This course analyzes the growing role of women in Latin America’s social, political and economic life. Based upon a multidisciplinary review of the literature and on current empirical research, this seminar considers the various ways in which women participate in Latin America’s public life, both formally and informally, and contribute to shape the region’s socioeconomic and political processes. Our analysis will focus on how and why women have been especially active in the region, beginning with strong and vibrant women’s movements in the early-mid 20th century to the election of female presidents in the three most important countries in South America – Argentina, Brazil and Chile – and one of the largest shares of women in parliamentary bodies (second only to the Nordic countries) in the early 21st century. Our analysis will cover a variety of arenas for women’s political activism, from NGOs and feminist movements to their representation in elected and appointed government positions. The objective is to better understand how women’s political participation has transformed and influenced sociocultural conventions as well as political systems and policy agendas in Latin America. The course is also designed to provide a discussion forum for graduate students who have a general interest in women and gender issues in Latin America and are engaged in this area of research. Some opportunities will be provided for students to focus upon a single country and a single topic, although the general expectation is that everyone will undertake some type of comparative analysis of the region as a whole. Course Requirements The required readings will serve as the basis for our weekly seminar discussions, complemented with those presented by students. Students are also expected to do additional reading on their own in preparation for class and for their final papers, and are strongly encouraged to seek additional journal articles, books or other materials of interest and share them with the group. It is the best way for all of us to keep abreast of developments in the field. In selected weeks, students will be responsible for summarizing, analyzing, critiquing, and presenting to the rest of the class a book of his or her choice that is considered a “classic” in the field (decided in consultation with the instructor). The summary/analysis/critique (3-5 pages) must be made available to the class electronically before the presentation; if students wish to add further readings, this should also be done in advance. All reading materials assigned will be posted in your Canvas week modules. In every week’s assignments you will also find additional readings that are not required but are recommended if you wish to read more broadly on a given topic. Selected books will be on reserve at the Benson Latin American Collection library. Grading will be based on students’ participation in class discussions and general contribution to the class (30%); the summaries/analyses/critiques presented to the class (10%); class presentations (30%); and the final paper (30%). A summary of the principal findings in the final papers will be presented to the class in the last session of the semester. The final papers should range between 20 and 25 pages (double-spaced pages, font size 12, 1” margins) and will be delivered in hard copy format.