Land and Conflict in Latin America since 1750

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Anna Cant SAR 3.12


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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Extending from the late Spanish colonial era, through the wars of independence and up to present-day social conflicts, this course will focus on land. How has land been conceptualised and fought over? How have different social groups developed relationships with land? In what ways have conflicts over land shaped Latin American politics? Students will be encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach to these questions, drawing on new research in geography, anthropology and political science, as well as various strands of history. Despite the great diversity of the Latin American continent, land is a constant reference point and one that lends itself to rich comparative study. Topics will include the global and local politics of the colonial hacienda system, anti-colonial indigenous rebellions, scientific exploration and population displacement, peasant movements, land reform, Cold War development policies and ongoing social protests over land and resource extraction.

The course has three main objectives:

1. To critically examine the causes, dynamics and consequences of conflict over land in Latin American societies from the late colonial era to the present.

2. To familiarise students with the conceptual frameworks and methodologies used to study the history of land conflicts.

3. To enable students to develop skills in comparative history and the analysis of primary sources.


20 hours of seminars in the AT. 20 hours of seminars in the WT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Autumn and the Winter Terms.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write one 3000-word formative essay in the Autumn Term and post weekly reflections to the Moodle discussion board in the Autumn and the Winter Terms. They must also give one 10-minute presentation in the Autumn and the Winter Terms.

Indicative reading

• Brooke Larson, Cochabamba, 1550-1900: Colonialism and Agrarian Transformation in Bolivia (Duke University Press, 1998);

• Steve J. Stern, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Harvard University Press, 2014);

• F. Salomon and S. Schwartz (eds.), Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas: South America (CUP, 1999);

• Nora E. Jaffary and Jane E. Mangan (eds.), Women in Colonial Latin America, 1526 to 1806: Texts and Contexts (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2018);

• Nancy P. Appelbaum, Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-century Colombia (Univeristy of North Carolina Press, 2016);

• Laura Gotkowitz, A Revolution for Our Rights: Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia,1880-1952 (Duke University Press, 2007);

• Jacob Blanc, Before the Flood: The Itaipu Dam and the Visibility of Rural Brazil (Duke University Press, 2019);

• Carmen Diana Deere and Magdalena León, Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001);

• Cindy Forster, The Time of Freedom: Campesino Workers in Guatemala’s October Revolution (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001);

• Enrique Mayer, Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform (Duke University Press, 2009);

• Anthony Bebbington (ed.), Social Conflict, Economic Development and the Extractive Industry: Evidence from South America (Routledge, 2011);


• Andrés García Trujillo, Peace and Rural Development in Colombia: The Window for Distributive Change in Negotiated Transitions (Routledge, 2020).


Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the ST.
Essay (30%, 3000 words) in the WT.
Class participation (20%) in the AT and WT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2022/23: 13

Average class size 2022/23: 13

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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