GEOG/LAST 357.02 and 357.72: Lands and Peoples of Latin America
Men are so inclined to content themselves with what is commonest; the spirit and the senses so easily grow dead to the
impressions of the beautiful and perfect, that every one should study, by all methods, to nourish in his mind the faculty of feeling
these things. ...For this reason, one ought every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it
were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Bk. v, ch. 1 (Carlyle, tr.) [source: Stevenson]
Dr. Scott Brady Office: 523 Butte Hall
Location: Cyberspace Phone: 898-5588
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-12:40 email@example.com
Geography Computer Lab: Butte 501
Writing Center http://online.csuchico.edu/public/Writing_Center/
Study of the physical environment, human settlement, development, and modern problems of the nations of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. This course is designed to be a component of the Upper-Division Theme on Mexico and Central America. This is an approved General Education course. This is an approved Global Cultures course. This course is the same as LAST 357.
How the course fits the Global Development Pathway: This course presents fundamental geographic concepts in the context of Latin America. Initial emphasis is placed on the region’s physical environments and its diverse peoples. Students then explore the relationships that have emerged between Latin America’s peoples and environments. The course concludes by considering different paths to socio-economic development that have been pursued in the region. The course supports the pathway’s emphasis on development. The course has been proposed for the Global Cultures designation.
Course Student Learning Objectives Associated GE Student Learning Objectives
How Course will Meet GE SLOs: This course will meet three GE SLOs, as noted in the table above. Written communication and Active Inquiry will be met by the research assignment. The course will study sustainability as a concept and challenge for Latin American peoples as they interact with its diverse physical environments. Students will further practice active inquiry in weekly question sets that focus critically on the assigned readings. Student learning of sustainability and practice of active inquiry will be assessed by means of quizzes and exams that will include short essay questions.
How Course will Assess GE SLOs: Assessment of GE SLOs is based on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, the gold standard in the assessment of value-added learning. Instructors of GEOG 357 utilize pre- and post-tests to effectively measure learning. The test consists of open-ended questions related to sustainability. The same test will be administered twice during the semester: once during the first week and once during the final week of classes. Comparison of pre- and post-tests scores will indicate the level of student learning.
There is no required textbook or reader for this course. Instead our readings will be pdf files or articles from web-sites.
Online and Reserve readings.
grades are based on % of 200 total points, earned from the categories below.
A=92-100%; B= 80-91%; C=68-79%; D=50-67%; and F= less than 50%.
If you choose not to complete the research project, your grade will be based on 3 exams. See below
Website: I will regularly update the course website. Students must visit the site to be aware of changes and additions. You will find links to websites embedded in each week of the course. I will also post questions beneath these links that will guide your viewing of these sites. The information that I guide you to will be covered on exams.
Course Format: This is an online readings course. We never meet. We read, do exercises, take 3 exams and write a paper. Students may utilize the chat room feature on our Blackboard site. I will not monitor chats and they will not be graded. Students should utilize the chat room as a support tool. You can exchange questions, information and helpful hints in the chat room.
Email: Students should utilize the email feature on our Blackboard site for all communication with me. Sometimes students ask questions that are shared by other students. In such cases, I'll post my answer as an announcement on the Blackboard site.
Office Hours: I also will use office hours to answer students’ email inquiries. This will require patience. Students should not expect immediate responses to emails. I will respond only during office hours.
Readings: A fundamental element of a liberal education is the development of the ability to read critically. Hence, your success in this course largely depends on the amount of time and effort you devote to the assigned readings.
Question Sets: To ensure that students keep up with the assigned readings, students must complete question sets that guide them through assigned textbook readings. You do not turn in question sets to be graded. You simply complete them to prepare yourself for the exams. I post question set keys every week or so, so that you may check your answers against mine.
Exams: There are 3 exams. They are open book exams that include information from the readings, question sets, atlas exercises other materials that I direct you to through the web-site. Exams contain 25-30 multiple choice/short answer questions. I will make exams available for a 4-day period. Students will have ~60 minutes to complete exams.
Make-up Exams: I do not allow students to make-up missed exams.
Optional Research Project: Students have the option of completing a research project in this course. The research project is an annotated bibliography of at least 1500 words. It has two parts: a proposal and the final project. The instructions for the proposal are at this link. The instructions for the final project are at this link. Here's a past example of an annotated bibliography: link.
Students will turn in this project in the body of an email, not as an email attachment. You can do that if your email program allows you to send the message/paper to me in the "rich text" format. Proposals must be submitted to my Blackboard email account in the body of an email, not as an attachment.
Plagiarism: Unfortunately, students
have committed plagiarism on their annotated bibliographies during past
semesters. They copied work from an online source and presented it as
their own. I referred these students to judicial affairs and asked that
they receive the most severe penalty. I will continue to do so.
The University catalogue http://www.csuchico.edu/catalog/cat05/ includes an overly general description of activities that constitute plagiarism. I have included it below.
"Plagiarism: Copying homework answers from your text to hand in for a grade; failing to give credit for ideas, statement of facts, or conclusions derived from another source; submitting a paper downloaded from the Internet or submitting a friend's paper as your own; claiming credit for artistic work (such as a music composition, photo, painting, drawing, sculpture, or design) done by someone else."
Please review the detailed explanation of plagiarism found at this site: http://www.collegeboard.com/article/0,3868,2-10-0-10314,00.html. Please use in-text citations to give credit to your sources. If you have any questions about plagiarism, please contact me.
Language, Vocabulary and Esoterica
Magazines and Newspapers
Week 1: (1/28-2/1)
Introduction ppt to course, region and regional geography
1. Bates, Marston. 1952. “Tropical Climates”. In, Where winter never comes; a study of man and nature in the Tropics. New York, Scribner.
You might enjoy this skit about US citizens’ ignorance of Mexico and Central America
Climate is the long-term average of four atmospheric conditions: temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind and precipitation. This week we’ll look at web-sites and a climagraph exercise to learn about these climatic conditions. First open the link below. It’s a world climate map. Scroll over to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, which I will refer to as Middle America, and notice the different climate regions. Obviously this map includes more detail than the climate map that Bates used. For right now I want to you identify the 3 largest climate types in Middle America and their general locations.
Earth-Sun Relations determine the long-term average of temperature. They also influence the other three atmospheric conditions that comprise a climate.
Visit the link below to see an animation of Earth-Sun Relations.
This animation would be even better if it included the Heat Equator that Bates discusses in the assigned reading. The Heat Equator, which causes the most intense heating on the surface of the earth, swings back and forth from the Tropic of Cancer on to the Tropic of Capricorn. You can think of the Heat Equator as the bearer of summer. As it moves over, or near, a particular latitude, it brings the warm season. So, when the Heat Equator moves to the Tropic of Cancer, the northern hemisphere begins its warm season. The portion of Earth’s surface between the two tropic lines is always near the Heat Equator, so tropical areas have a permanent warm season.
Here is the sequence of the Heat Equator’s progression from tropic line to tropic line:
On December 21 or 22, our Winter Solstice, the Heat Equator is at the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5° S.
On March 21 or 22, our Spring Equinox, the Heat Equator is at the Equator, 0°.
On June 21 or 22, our Summer Solstice, the Heat Equator is at the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5° N.
On September 22, our Autumnal Equinox, the Heat Equator is at the Equator, 0°.
And the cycle continues.
This animation does show what Bates was speaking of when he discussed the Heat Equator. To view this, you must click the “Show Earth Profile” tab. You will see that as the earth orbits the sun, the Earth Profile image shows the latitudes at which the “vertical rays of the sun” strike Earth’s surface. “Vertical rays” are the same thing as the Heat Equator.
As you may have already learned, some of Middle America’s pre-Columbian civilizations had already figured out this cycle long before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Atmospheric Pressure and Circulation, including hurricanes
Open the two links below to familiarize yourself with atmospheric pressure and circulation. The movement of air in the lower atmosphere is described by the concepts atmospheric pressure and wind. Atmospheric pressure refers to the vertical movement of air. In high pressure, air is subsiding, or sinking, to the earth’s surface. In low pressure, air is ascending, or rising, from the earth’s surface. This web-site animation shows several large areas of persistent high and low pressure with thick blue arrows. Arrows pointing up indicate low pressure.
Arrows pointing down indicate high pressure: http://www.uwmc.uwc.edu/geography/100/circulanim/circul_anim.htm.
Persistent low pressure is found in the tropics. This low-pressure system is known as the Equatorial Low or Doldrums. Persistent high-pressure areas are found at roughly 30° N and 30° S latitude. These high-pressure systems are known as the Sub-Tropical High Pressure Systems (STH). The animation shows that these systems shift seasonally. This movement of these pressure systems is caused by the seasonal movement of the Heat Equator.
What causes low pressure? Well, what causes air to rise? Heating. So, the intense heating located at the Heat Equator creates the low-pressure system that swings like a pendulum across the tropics.
Why does the animation show clouds at the tropical low-pressure system? Because, the lifting of moist air (low pressure) causes clouds to form.
On the animation, why aren’t there clouds by the Sub-Tropical High Pressure systems? Because air descends/subsides in a high-pressure system. Hence, the STH does not include the lifting of moist air that is required for cloud formation
Look at the image at this link to see the wind belts that are created by air moving from high to low pressure systems.
The Northeast Trade Winds prevail between 0° and 23.5° N. These winds blow warm, moist air over Middle America’s tropical regions. Northern Mexico is dominated by the STH. The descending air in the STH causes the deserts of Sonora and Chihuahua and the arid climate of Baja.
Hurricanes, tropical cyclones, are seasonal atmospheric phenomena that affect Middle America. Open the two links below and view the general tracks of hurricanes. Hurricane season occurs between June 1 and the October 31, when the oceans in the tropics of the Northern Hemisphere are heated by their proximity to the Heat Equator.
Map. I encourage you to print out several copies of the map and draw in the Tropic of Cancer. It will show you which portions of Middle America are tropical according to latitude.
Climagraph exercise. Please open this Word file and do the climagraph exercise. Climagraphs are a useful way to learn about the climate of specific locations. The file includes a climagraph for Chico and several locations in Middle America.
Here is a sample of a completed climagraph: Sample
3. Carr, Archie. 1953. “The Weeping Woods". In, High Jungles and Low. Gainesville, University Press of Florida.
Questions to consider:
For this chapter I will not post questions. Instead, I want you to write down the main characteristics of each of the landscapes/regions, and to know the geographic location and extent of each.
Power point presentations:
Hey Folks. Please view the ppt.s below to learn the landscapes that subduction and tropical climates have created in Middle America.
More information about atmospheric circulation and its role in atmospheric moisture.
To review, Sub-Tropical High Pressure systems do not generally create clouds. Why? Because air descends/subsides in a high-pressure system. Hence, the STH does not include the lifting of moist air that is required for cloud formation
Look at the image at this link to see the wind belts that are created by air moving from high to low pressure systems.
The Northeast Trade Winds prevail between 0° and 23.5° N. These winds blow warm, moist air over Mexico’s tropical region.
Northern Mexico is dominated by the STH. The descending air in the STH causes the deserts of Sonora and Chihuahua and the arid climate of Baja. When it moves southward (between October-April), it brings a dry season to much of Mexico and Central America.
Look at the map at this link Precipitation map. In north central Mexico, you will see the words “Summer Maximum”. That means that most precipitation occurs during the summer months, just like your climographs show. During the summer months the STH, and the dry conditions it causes, is north of Mexico and causing our dry season in the California’s Central Valley. Look at the same map off the coast of northern California. There you will see “Winter Maximum. This means northern California experiences it wettest months during the winter, which is when Mexico is experiencing its driest months. Where is the STH in the winter? In Mexico.
This map Vegetation map shows how vegetation regions extend from Southern Mexico into Central America. The Weeping Woods described by Carr are the “Mixed forest” shown on the map. The rain forest described by Bates is the “Tropical rain forest” on the map.
Here is the key to the climograph exercise. Compare my climographs with yours and see if you can understand how the seasonal migration of the STH influences the graphs.
The shape of Middle America’s land surface is complex. Rugged mountains and mile-high plateaus make up much of its area. Recently active volcanoes punctuate the skyline and frequent earthquakes regularly shake life up. The dominant tectonic process that has created Middle America’s is subduction, which occurs when the Cocos Plate drives under the North American Plate off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast and also on in the eastern Caribbean. You can see that process at this link:
After opening up the page, click on “Continental volcanic arc.” Then click the arrow to see the process of subduction. The only problem with this animation is that it shows an oceanic plate moving westward under a continental plate. The directions are reversed in Mexico. As the animation shows, volcanism is one product of subduction. Another is seismic activity, specifically earthquakes. This link http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/ shows an up-to-date map of earthquakes around the world. You can see how earthquakes often cluster along Mexico’s Pacific coast and the eastern Caribbean where subduction occurs.
5. Denevan, William. 1992. The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492. Annals of the Association of American Geographers., 83: 369-385. Here's a site with some information about William Denevan:
6. West, R C. 1998. Mesoamerican Subsistence Techniques. Pp. 77-102 in Latin American Geography: Historical-Geographical Essays, 1941-1998, Miles E. Richardson (editor). Geoscience and Man, Baton Rouge.
Here's a site with some information about Jared Diamond, the author of this article:
Power point presentation:
8. Foote, T. 1991. Where Columbus Was Coming From. Smithsonian, December 1991: 28-41.
This article is available at this link: 355foote.pdf
Video: The Caribbean 1492.
Hey Folks. Exam One will be available Wednesday 2/27 – Saturday 3/2. I’ll post an announcement on our Blackboard site with more details next week.
Annotated bibliography proposal is due on Friday, March 8.
Mee, Charles. 1992. That Fateful Moment When Two Civilizations came face to face. Smithsonian 23: 56-69. Link
No question set
Exam One Wednesday 2/27, 8 am – Saturday 3/2 5 pm.
Week 6: Colonial Middle America
2. Sauer, C. O. 1941. The Personality of Mexico. Geographical Review 31:353-364.
Here are some useful websites for your annotated bibliographies:
Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en&tab=ws
Council on Hemispheric Affairs: http://www.coha.org/
Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC: http://lanic.utexas.edu/
Required Readings and Viewing
Abridged chapter from Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”. http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=4776
Power point presentation
I want you to view the documentary, Life and Debt. It is posted on our Blackboard site in the “Media Gallery”.
Week 8 Spring Break
Week 9: (3/25-3/29)
Required viewing: I want you to watch the documentary “Cuba after Castro” on your own time. Four parts of the documentary are found below.
Regions of Mexico
Power point presentation
Week 10: (4/1-4/5)
Mexico City and Core
Guillermoprieto, Alma. 1990. Letter from Mexico City, The New Yorker, September 17, 1990, p. 93-103. No question set
Hamill, Pete. 1993. When the Air was Clear. Audubon, January-February, 1993, p. 40-49. No question set
Malmstrom, V. 1995. Geographical Origins of the Tarascans. Geographical Review: 31-39. No question set
Power point presentations
Core Region ppt
Week 11: (4/8-4/13)
Harner, J. 2002. Muebles Rusticos in Mexico and the United States. Geographical Review 92: 354-371.
Bass, J and Brady, S. 2011. The Changing Anatomy of Mexican Towns: repeat study and Stanislawski’s Michoacan. The Pennsylvania Geographer 49(1): 18-42.
"The peasant from Central Mexico faces less risk and uncertainty from U.S. migration than from any other possible income-generating activity. He risks more with the status quo - relying on an unreliable resource base, a rigid local social structure, undependable government programs, and uncertain job opportunities in other Mexican cities - than in seeking work in the United States." Ambivalent Journey, Jones, 1995.
Exam Two will be available at our Blackboard site from Wednesday, 4/10, 8 am until Saturday, 4/13, 5 pm.
Week 12 (4/15-4/19) South Mexico/Mex-Central America
This is an article that I wrote about some research I worked on a few years ago among the Zapotecs who live in the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca.
3. Microfinance in Mexico and Oaxaca. Read the short articles at the links below and complete the question set.
Power point presentations
Week 13 (4/22-4/26)
4. Dozier, C. 1963 Mexico’s Transformed Northwest. Geographical Review 53: 548-571. Click here for article.
Central American Rimland
Required Online Readings:
Week 14: 4/29-5/3
Required Online Readings: No Question Set
The traditional music and dance of the Garifuna have become popular. The general term for numerous Garifuna dances and songs is "punta". The songs are call and response. Many of the dances are courtship dances. Here are 4 youtube examples.
The first is from Hopkins, Belize where I did research in 1989. It shows how the community has incorporated dance instruction into the education system.
The second is from Livingston, Guatemala. It shows how Garifuna kids perpetuate the dancing and rhythm informally.
The third is from Los Angeles, California, one of the largest centers of Garifuna immigrants in the US. It demonstrates how the Garifuna continue to practice the traditional art form in very different trappings. Instead of on sandy ground in the Central American Rimland in the shade of Atlantic Tall or Malayan Dwarf coconut trees, this jam takes place in a well furnished living room complete with the big screen TV.
The last one focuses on Garifuna
women and demonstrates their role in preserving these traditions.
A core component of cultural survival is the survival of a culture’s language. This web-site seeks to utilize the Web to preserve the Garifuna language: http://www.garifunainstitute.com/
Power Point Presentations
Central American Rimland and Upland Interior
Example of annotated bibliography
This link http://www.aallnet.org/products/2004-47.pdf no longer works. It used to lead to an example of an annotated bibliography that a student copied during a previous semester. The primary lesson is do not copy or plagiarize.
This week you should make final edits and complete your annotated bibliographies. They are due on Friday, May 17. Be certain to review the assignment instructions above and the description about plagiarism. If you have any questions, contact me. You must turn your paper into turnitin.com before turning it in to me. The instructions for Turnitin.com are at this link. This is a required part of your annotated bibliography assignment. You should submit your paper to turnitin 3 or 4 days before so that you will have time to correct any errors.
The due date for your annotated bibliography is May 17.
Power Point Presentations
No question set:
Power Point Presentations
The final exam will be available from Wednesday at 8 am until Friday at 5 pm.