Politics, cultures and societies in Latin America: Anthropological perspectives


For BA & MA students,
University of Bern
(HS 2018, 5 ECTS points)

This course is concerned with the history and practice of Anthropology in Latin America as well as with central debates that emerged from the particularities of “doing ethnography” in Latin America. Thinking and discussing the work of specific anthropologists in and from Latin America, we shall critically examine key concepts that shaped the ways anthropology has come to understand politics, cultures and societies in Latin America and the world.

Key areas:

  • Race, ethnicity and gender in Latin America
  • Amazonian anthropology and the ontological turn
  • The state in Latin America
  • Anthropology of conflict and mass violence
  • (New) approaches to resistance
  • After violence – the work of memory

The module introduces students to anthropological work and ethnographic practice in Latin America. It covers a wide range of themes and aims to provide a solid background to the array of analytical perspectives anthropologists have drawn upon in their scholarly engagement with the region.

There is also a focus on training the students in academic thinking and writing. Students are asked to write a literature review, opinion and/or feedback papers, do independent research on specific themes, work in groups throughout the semester, prepare and give presentations to the class and write an essay at the end of the semester.

Selected Readings:

Degregori, C. I., & Sandoval, P. (2008)
Peru: From Otherness to a Shared Diversity.
A Companion to Latin American Anthropology, pp. 150–173. 

Escobar, A. (2008)
Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes. Durham NC & London: Duke University Press. 

Menchú, R. (2010)
I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. Verso Books. 

Montoya, R., Jo Frazier, L., Hurtig J. (eds.) (2002)
Gender’s place. Feminist Anthropologies of Latin America. New York: Pelgrave pp. 1–19 

Poole, D. (2008)
A Companion to Latin American Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell. Introduction. pp.1–7

Sanabria, H. (2007)
The anthropology of Latin America and the CaribbeanAllyn & Bacon. pp. 17–49