HSTLAC 282 A: History of Mexico: Culture, Identity, and the Politics of Rule from the Aztecs to the Present

Winter 2024
to be arranged / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Modern Mexico is a diverse, complex, dynamic, and fascinating place. How might we understand it as a product of historical forces? This course traces the longer history of Mexico from Aztec times to the twenty-first century by examining how groups traditionally seen as marginalized within Mexican society shaped Mexico and its connections to the world around it. By reconstructing history “from below” rather than focusing on the political history of elites “from above,” the course will demonstrate how popular groups negotiated imperial Aztec and colonial Spanish power relations, challenged, and at times subverted rule. We will then ask how such populations defended their interests and fought for a political voice in the newly emerging nation-state after Independence and during the long nineteenth century, culminating in the Mexican Revolution. In the final portion of this course we will examine the ways in which such populations continued to play crucial roles in the political culture of postrevolutionary Mexico. We will focus in particular on urban political and social movements in contemporary Mexico City as well as rural movements and unrest in Guerrero, Chiapas, and elsewhere. Special attention will also be paid to migration and the transborder lives of Mexicans in the United States and other parts of the world.

Students will learn about the history of Mexico through online lectures, three assigned books, interactive readings, documentary films, discussions threads, and by analyzing primary sources, the written materials and visual records that people in the past left behind. We will also examine archeological evidence and popular media representations. Students will complete three exam essays and a series of other activity and discussion-based assignments. This course is an excellent fit for those interested in learning more about Mexico and Latin America as well as those interested in history, international studies, American ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, anthropology, and archeology.

HSTLAC 282 will be offered fully online and in an asynchronous format, and students will be expected to follow the week-by-week schedule and meet assignment deadlines.

An image of the main square of Mexica city of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, painted by Diego Rivera. The image depicts the main temple on the left side as well as smaller temples to the right of it and in the square itself. People are shown gathering in various parts of the square and traveling by canoe along a canal in the foreground. The skies feature storm clouds.

Catalog Description:
Overview of Mexican history from late Aztec times until the twenty-first century. Emphasizes how women, campesinos, indigenous populations, free and enslaved Afro-Mexicans, and the urban poor experienced the past, challenged colonial and post-colonial rule, and shaped modern Mexican society and culture.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
December 7, 2023 - 7:01 pm