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Social Movements in Latin America


Admission requirements

To be registered as a student in a (Research) Master programme.


In the last decades the Latin American region has seen the proliferation and empowerment of social movements, ranging from the Zapatista Movement in Mexico in 1994 to the Student Movement in Chile and ‘#’ movements such as #NiUnaMenos and #YoSoy132. The most recent wave of social protest at the end of 2019, dubbed the ‘Latin American Spring’, made once again clear that social movements are a recurrent and very often effective mechanism of citizen participation. Social movements emerge as important actors of resistance and change across the region, often taking the State as the focal point of their struggle.
The course first introduces the main scholarly debates on Latin American Social Movements. It then examines the role of social movements in the political scenario, including their tense relation with the State, their potential and limitations as vehicles of citizen participation, their impact on public policy, as well as their strategic but often problematic use of new technologies. The course takes particular interest in understanding why social movements are such a recurrent and influential actor in the region, as well as in assessing their ability to achieve social change and their impact on the development of democracy in Latin America.

Course objectives

To insert students in the main academic debates regarding Latin American social movements.

To have an understanding of the key tensions that characterize the interaction between State and Social Movements.

To understand the potential and limitations of social movements in achieving sociopolitical change in current issues in Latin America.

To assess the impact of social movements on the practice of democracy in the region.

To be able to apply the knowledge gained in a case study.

The transferable skills that are practiced in this course include:

Analytical thinking (analytical skills, abstraction and argumentation)

Project management (planning, delimitation of the study)

Oral communication (presentation, academic language, listening and providing feedback)

Written communication (academic writing, reporting on research results, argument structuration)

Critical thinking (discussion, critical assessment of sources)

Intercultural skills (research and interaction in an intercultural setting)


My Timetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Brief discussion of the appointed literature during seminar (pass).

Oral presentation on the progress of the case study for the writing of the paper (30%).

Final paper of 5000 words, written under supervision (70%). The paper may be submitted in Spanish, Portuguese or English.

The paper for the research master students should pay more attention to the theoretical framework and relate the case study to a key debate on Latin American Modernities (discussed in the core courses). To this end, these students will get at least one extra individual meeting focused on theory and a more complex research question.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


A resit is (in principle) only possible in the case that the final grade for the course is a 5 or lower. The components that have been evaluated as insufficient can be resit. The resit for the final presentation entails a short research proposal for the paper of ca. 1500 words. A revised version of the paper can be resubmitted as a resit in case of an insufficient evaluation.

The percentages of the components do not change in the resit.

Inspection and feedback

The lecturer will provid feedback on both assessment components (the oral presentation and the final paper). In addition, by the student’s request, it is possible to schedule a meeting with the lecturer to discuss the results of the examinations in more detail.

Reading list

A selection of articles and book chapters. The final reading list will be made available through Blackboard before the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on this website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


Attendance is compulsory. In case the student misses more than three sessions, the lecturer may decide to impose complementary assignments, to guarantee the student meets the requirements of the course.