Latin America and the United States since 1898

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tanya Harmer SAR M.11


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

HY239 is designed to provide students with an introductory overview of the history of the Americas and inter-American relations from 1898 to the present day. Rather than focussing exclusively on U.S. policy towards Latin America, the course explores the international history of Latin America and the United States from a variety of U.S and Latin American perspectives. It also incorporates broader thematic and interpretive questions alongside country specific studies. Among the major themes covered on the course are the concepts of imperialism, neo-colonialism and anti-imperialism, revolution and counter-revolution, nationalism and interventionism, democracy and dictatorship, human rights and repression, development and dependency, the 'war on drugs' and migration. More specific topics covered in lectures and class discussions include: the Spanish-American War; Big Stick and Dollar Diplomacy; FDR's 'Good Neighbour' policy; Juan Perón and Populism; the onset of the Cold War and post-war system in the Americas; Jacobo Arbenz' Guatemala; the Cuban Revolution; JFK and the Alliance For Progress; the Brazilian Coup of 1964 and U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965; Cuba's Latin American policy and Che Guevara's Bolivian mission; Salvador Allende's Chile; the 'Condor Years'; the Panama Canal Treaty and Carter's opening to Cuba; the Nicaraguan Revolution and Reagan's Central American interventions; 'The Lost Decade' and Debt crisis of the 1980s; the Washington Consensus, the War on Drugs, Hugo Chavez and the 'Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas' (ALBA).


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and Lent terms and a revision lecture in the Summer Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to do two presentations, to write one 2,000-word essay and one 1,000-1,500-word book review, to contribute to weekly Moodle discussion forums, and to submit a Mock exam at the start of the Summer Term. These assignments will not form part of the final assessment but they are a required component of the course, and students must complete them in order to be admitted to the course examination.

Indicative reading

A detailed course outline and reading list, subdivided by weekly topics, will be provided at the first lecture and will also be available on Moodle and in the departmental public folders. However, the following works are useful introductions and core texts for the course: E Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, Mark T Gilderhus, The Second Century: U.S.-Latin American Relations since 1889, Robert Holden and Eric Zolov, Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History, Walter Lafeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, Alan McPherson, Intimate Ties, Bitter Struggles: U.S.-Latin American Relations Since 1945, Lars Schoultz, Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Towards Latin America, Peter H Smith, Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations, Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith, Modern Latin America, and Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Capped 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2013/14 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 77%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)