The Cold War in Latin America

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tanya Harmer SAR M.11


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This seminar is designed to introduce students to new historical approaches to the Cold War in Latin America. It responds to new research and debates that have arisen in recent years regarding the meaning of the Cold War in a Latin American context. Students will examine the conflict’s origins, who its protagonists were, the extent to which the superpowers were involved in it and its significance at a local, regional, and global level.  The course places particular emphasis on the role of ideas and ideological struggles; the intersection between these ideas and the challenges of modernity and economic development; the causes of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary upheaval; the manifestations of violence and its effects; and the cultural Cold War. Students will be encouraged to explore the intra-regional and transnational dynamics of the Cold War in Latin America. They will study how events in one part of Latin America (for example, the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, the Cuban Revolution, the Brazilian and Chilean coups or the Central American crises in the 1980s) impacted upon other areas of region. The seminar will also devote time to looking at Latin America’s experience of the Cold War from a global comparative perspective, particularly in contrast to other parts of the Third World. Although the seminar will mostly involve intensive reading and discussion of secondary sources, students will also be encouraged to reflect on new online archival material, published writings of principal thinkers and oral histories as a means of understanding key concepts and ideas.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and Lent terms.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write one 3,000 word formative essay in the Michaelmas Term and one formative discussion post at the beginning of the year.

Indicative reading

  • Gilbert Joseph and Daniela Spenser (eds.), In From the Cold: Latin America's New Encounter with the Cold War (2007);
  • Greg Grandin and Gilbert Joseph (eds.), A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence During Latin America's Long Cold War (2011);
  • Michael Löwy (ed.), Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present: An Anthology (1992);
  • Thomas C. Wright, Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution (2001);
  • Steven G. Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area of the World: John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America (1999);
  • Jean Franco, The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War (2002);
  • John Dinges, The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents (New York: The New Press, 2004);
  • Dirk Kruijt, Guerrillas: war and peace in Central America (2008);
  • Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (2005);
  • Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (2003);
  • Tanya Harmer, Allende's Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (2011).


Essay (50%, 6000 words) in the ST.
Discussion post (35%) and class participation (15%).

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2018/19: 13

Average class size 2018/19: 13

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information