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Culture Latin America



When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.
The cultural diversity is characteristic of the Latin American region. The colonial experience as well as modern processes of globalization and transnationalism have lead to the encounter of cultures with a variety of effects. The presence of indigenous tradtions, Western notions of modernity, structural inequality and experiences with amongst others neocolonialism and slavery have given shape to the languages, practices and products that nowadays constitue the cultural expressions of Latin Americans.
Drawing from insights of cultural anthropology and cultural studies, the course introduces key concepts as hybridism and transculturalism that enable a deeper comprehension of cultural phenomena in Latin America. The key concepts provide the theoretical ground from which to approach a range of cultural expression as diverse as cuban bloggers, indigenous social movements, Latin American cinema, telenovelas, etc.

Course objectives

  • To introduce to students to key concepts for the studying and understanding of a diversity of expressions of Latin American culture. – To create insight in the complexity and particularity of the processes in which cultural meaning is produced in the Latin American region. – To enable students to relate specific cultural expressions to its wider social and political context.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture course with tutorials. The course consists of 12 lectures and 4 tutorial sessions and is divided into two blocks: Sociocultural issues in Latin America and Latin American Arts in Society.
Note that presence during lectures and tutorials is compulsory. With proper notification to the tutor you may miss a maximum of four lectures (no more than two per block!). Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

  • Lectures: 12 × 2 = 24 – Study of compulsory literature: 35 – Tutorials: 4 × 2 = 8 – Preparation tutorials = 34 – Preparation midterm exam = 20 – Preparation final exam = 20

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

•Freire-Medeiros, Bianca ‘The favela and its touristic transits’ Geoforum 40 (2009) 580–588 [online]
•Finnegan, Nuala ‘So What’s Mexico Really Like? Framing the Local, Negotiating the Global in Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mama Tambien’ in Deborah Shaw (ed), Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Breaking into the Global Market (Portsmoth: Rowman & Little field Publ., 2007) [to be uploaded by tutor]
•Venegas, Cristina (2010) ‘Liberating’ the self; The biopolitics of Cuban blogging, Journal of International Communication, 16:2, 43-54,
•Redclift. Nanneke, “Re-Reading Gender: Comparative Questions, Situated Meanings, Latin American Paradoxes”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 66,No. 3 (2003), pp. 486-500)
•Afolabi, Nihi ‘The Brazilian New Wave: Hip Hop and the Politics of Intervention’ in Nihi Afolabi, Marcio Barbosa and Esmeralda Ribeiro (orgs) The Afro-Brazilian Mind (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2007)
•Wilson, Tamar Diana; Ypeij, Anneou; “Tourism, Gender and Ethnicity”. Latin American Perspectives, 2012, Vol. 39 (6), pp5-16.
•Chiappari, Christopher (2000) ´Hybrid religions in high land Guatemala: Modernity, Tradition and Culture´ Critical Studies, 13, 1, 226-253.
•Nash, June (2007) ´CONSUMING INTERESTS: Water, Rum, and Coca-Cola from Ritual Propitiation to Corporate Expropriation in Highland Chiapas´. Cultural Anthropology, Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 621–639.
•Schaefer, Timo ´Engaging Modernity: the political making of indigenous movements in Bolivia and Ecuador, 1900–2008´. Third world quarterly, vol.30 (2), pp: 397 -413.
•Kymlicka, Will (1999) ´The rise and fall of multiculturalism? New debates on inclusion and accommodation in diverse societies.´ International Social Science Journal, 2010, Vol. 61(199), pp.97-112.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S. Brandellero
Dr. N. Timmer
S. Valdivia Rivera, M. Phil.