My courses cover a range of subjects, but all of them have the primary objective of providing students with tools for understanding, critically analyzing, and engaging with the world around them. Below you will find descriptions for each of the classes I have taught in recent years. Feel free to email for a syllabus if any of these are of interest to you.
Latin American and Latinx Youth Movements
This course aims to introduce students to the histories, structures, and practices of Latin American and Latinx youth movements. In addition to reading significant scholarship and research on Latin American and Latinx student and youth activism, we will try to understand these social movements “from the inside,” reading some primary documents, manifestos, communiqués, and activist reflections and debates with an analytic eye, seeking patterns, themes and differences. We will address the specific dynamics of age, generation, race, ethnicity, and nation at play in these movements and also use the empirical examples of US Latinx and Latin American youth activism to explore broader themes and questions relevant to the study of contemporary social movements in the Americas.
Youth and Citizenship
This course explores the multiple and contested meanings of “youth” and “citizenship,” and their complex relation to one another. Taking the experiences of Latina/o young people as a starting point from which to theorize, we will examine how youth civic and political identities are imagined, produced, and negotiated in a variety of social and cultural locations. We will look at the different versions of Latina/o youth citizenship being promoted by social and political institutions and will analyze how Latina/o youth are themselves challenging dominant models and contributing to new understandings of citizenship, belonging, and political participation. Students will work in groups to conduct their own empirical research in this field, developing research skills and contributing to scholarship.
Latin American Childhoods
This course provides an introduction to interdisciplinary and social scientific research on childhood in contemporary Latin America. We will examine childhood as a complex social category created and reproduced through social relations and social structures, including schools, families, peer relationships, popular culture, and political institutions. Childhood in Latin America is not singular or universal: as a social and cultural category, childhood is also crosscut by and intersects with other identifications and locations including race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation. Students will encounter not one Latin American childhood, but many Latin American childhoods. In addition to looking at how social processes shape the diverse lives of children in Latin America, we will discuss children’s agency, exploring how children actively interpret and influence the social world. One of the tenets of what is often referred to as “the new sociology of childhood” is that children are not simply passive objects of adult socialization, but are social agents who create their own worlds. This approach requires that those interested in childhood attempt to see the world from children’s perspectives, taking seriously children’s words and insights. This conceptual framework (structures/intersectionality/agency) will be developed and explored during the first three weeks of the course. Then, we will apply this framework to an exploration of the following thematic topics: family relationships, schools, work, street life, politics, and migration.
Social Movements in Latin America
This course provides an introduction to contemporary Latin American social movements. While a complete survey of the many movements and struggles taking place across the region is impossible in ten weeks, we will discuss a wide range of movements, including movements against structural adjustment and neoliberalism, indigenous movements, environmental movements, women’s movements, and student movements as well as engage with the current debates on autonomy and the complex relationship between social movements and governments.
Social Science Analytics
This class is an introduction to the methods and analytic approach of social science research within the interdisciplinary field of LALS, with an emphasis on research oriented toward the pursuit of social change and social justice. Unlike other courses, our focus is not so much on the content and findings of research, but on the process of research itself. Social science research does not just belong to the academy and it is not just something done by students and professors, but also by community organizers, activists, and advocates. Writing good surveys, being able to conduct an interview, presenting data in a compelling way, and creating a critical literature review are key skills for a wide variety of professions. While this class can not provide in-depth training on each research methodology, nor cover the whole range of methods of data collection used in the social sciences, students will learn the overall process of designing a research project, and will practice a variety of research techniques used in both academic and community-based research. In addition to a strong how-to and hands-on approach, the class introduces students to diverse examples of LALS scholar-activism and activist research, and invites students to continually reflect on and discuss the ethics and politics of research in LALS.
The Politics of Childhood and Youth (graduate)
Childhood and youth play an important symbolic role in a range of political projects, including nation-building, global “development,” the expansion and institutionalization of human rights frameworks, and revolutionary social change. This course explores how the figures of children, teens, youth, students, and girls are imbued with political significance and the ways that diverse communities of young social actors are themselves actively engaged in politics and citizenship practices. Drawing primarily from the fields of sociology, anthropology, and history, as well as Latin American and Latino Studies, we’ll consider how both the representations and lived experiences of youth can serve to reproduce and/or challenge social inequalities, including hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation.
Youth Cultures, Global Capitalism, and Social Change (graduate)
Youth, as a social and political category, frequently represents and indexes anxieties and hopes for the future. Young people are invoked as figures of danger and threat (as in narratives about youth gangs, unemployment, and radicalization). Or, they may be called forward as representatives of possibility, hope, and optimism (as in narratives of youth activism, civic engagement, and technological and cultural innovation). Youth studies scholars working in the fields of Latin American Studies and Ethnic Studies have argued that these divergent discourses on youth, as well as young people’s lived experiences, are closely tied to and deeply shaped by class, race, nation, gender, and other structural inequalities. And, while youth are a diverse and highly-segmented group, scholars also note that young people are increasingly bound together in transnational webs of power/knowledge. As profitable producers and consumers of global media and popular culture, as disposable subjects of a globalized model of policing, as a mobile and precarious transnational workforce, as self-starting entrepreneurs, and as privatized and self-responsible subjects, youth play an important role in the processes of capitalist globalization and neoliberal governmentality. After an opening week setting up some of the intellectual histories of youth studies scholarship in the context of LALS, the first half of the course explores young people’s lived experiences of the systemic violence of racialized capitalism and globalization. In the second half of the quarter, we then turn to the question of youth resistance to these processes, the complex dynamics of the incorporation of youth cultures, and the simultaneously real and romanticized relationships between young people and social change.
Latin American Social Movements (graduate)
This course grounds students in the social science literature on Latin American social movements. Integrating anthropological, sociological, and political science approaches to the field, as well as writings by both Latin American and US-based academics, the class familiarizes students with key concepts and debates, as well as the multiple methodological approaches to studying social movements in the region. We will engage with political process theory, contentious politics frameworks, analyses of collective identity, cultural approaches to social movement scholarship, and will delve into the ongoing and vibrant debates about state/social movement relationships and autonomy.