Problems in Latin American Politics: Human Rights and Democracy cpo 4306

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Problems in Latin American Politics: Human Rights and Democracy
CPO 4306

Professor Anderson Meeting time: Tues 4; Thurs 4-5 Anderson 318 or Tues 10:40-11:30 & Thurs 10:40-

Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 1:45-2:45 12:30

Thursday 9:30-10:30 (am)

Purpose of the Course

This is an advanced undergraduate class on a special topic: Human rights and democracy. If you have taken a special topics class previously, you can still get credit for taking another one. This one is about the process of developing a democracy in the aftermath of gross human rights violations. It is about the relationship between the development of democracy and a recent past that was cruel, inhumane, authoritarian and extreme. How is it possible for democracy to develop under such circumstances? What kinds of questions must citizens and leaders face in constructing their new society? What choices do they have and what constraints inhibit their choices? What tradeoffs do they see between different alternatives. Is democracy possible after such a past and what will it look like? These are the questions of this course.

While the course covers more Latin American countries than it does countries from any other region, the course is not only about Latin America. The problem of developing democracy in the aftermath of human rights violations is a problem Latin America shares with Europe and Africa. In addition to studying Chile, El Salvador and Argentina we will also study Germany, Spain and South Africa. All of these countries have tried to construct a democracy in the aftermath of gross human rights violations and all have had different levels of success in that effort. All of these countries faced the questions listed above when they moved toward democracy.


We will have three essay exams in this course, two during the course of the semester and one as a final exam. Each of the first two exams is worth 25% of your grade; the final is worth 40% of your grade. Class attendance and participation will count for 10% of your grade.

Required books and Coursepack

The first readings for this course are from the Coursepack: The Morality of Truth Commissions,Two section, pp 3-67 and 189-210, about 87 pages.

You can buy a hard copy coursepack or an epack (your preference). The hard copy allows you to make notes on the pages. The epack: can be ordered online from Target Copy. Go to the Target Copy website. Go to the Coursepacks feature on Target website, write in the course number and the pack will come up.. You pay by a credit card.

Books: Purchase on line or use Reserve list at Norlin.

Norbert Frei, Adenauer’s Germany and the Nazi Past, Columbia University Press, 2001
Richard Wilson, The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2001
Cath Collins, Post-Transitional Justice: Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvador, Penn State Press, 2010
Elisabeth Jean Wood, Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador, Cambridge University Press, 2000

Elisabeth Jean Wood, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, Cambridge University Press, 2003

Leslie Anderson, Social Capital in Developing Democracies: Nicaragua and Argentina Compared, Cambridge University Press, 2010

Omar G. Encarnacion, Democracy Without Justice in Spain: The Politics of Forgetting, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

Class date Reading
January 6 first class: pass out syllabus

January 8 coursepack materials from Target Copy about 87 pages, see instructions above

Part I: Germany Europe: The first human rights trials

January 13-15 Frei, entire book

January 20-22 finish Frei

January 27 review for first essay exam; Essay exam # 1 here

Part II: Latin America Latin America: Three examples of varying degrees of success

January 22 – February 5 Argentina: Read Anderson, 2010, Chap 3 and Anderson, unpublished ms, Democracy by Institutions, Chap 3 (on reserve)

February 10- 17 Chile: Read Collins, entire book
February 19-26 El Salvador: Read Wood, 2003, entire book
February 28-March 7 Spring Break
March 10 review Latin American cases and

Second Essay exam on Latin American cases

Part III: South Africa A Leading African Example

March 12 -24 South Africa: Read Wood, 2000 and Wilson, entire book

Part IV: A Return to Europe: The Case of Spain

March 26 - April 7 Encarnacion, entire book

April 9-16 Overview of cases, Summary, Prepare for Final
April 21 Final Exam

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