Not available in 2022/23
The Cold War in Latin America

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tanya Harmer SAR M.11


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, 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.


The School aims to run in-person seminars, subject to circumstances, with some online provision if and where necessary.

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 weekly discussion posts on Moodle.

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);

· Michelle Chase, Revolution within the Revolution: Women and Gender Politics in Cuba, 1952-1962 (2015)

· Benjamin Cowan, Securing Sex: Morality and Repression in the Making of Cold War Brazil (2016)

· 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);

· Renata Keller, Mexico’s Cold War: Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution (2015)

· Cindy Forster, The Time of Freedom: Campesino Workers in Guatemala’s October Revolution (2001)


Essay (50%, 6000 words) in the ST.
Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Class participation (15%) in the MT and LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: 14

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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