The Historical Ecology of Latin America

History H&S - Humanities & Sciences

Course Description

This seminar explores the ways in which access to natural resources has translated into political and economic power in Latin America and the Caribbean, from the colonial period to the present. We will examine how state-building projects (colonialism, capitalism, socialism) have used natural resources as a tool to assert power and legitimacy in the region and on the world stage. We will also explore how Latin American and Caribbean thinkers and activists have offered some of the earliest critiques of capitalism based on the region's environmental exploitation. How has the long history of resource extraction and resistance played out in Latin America and the Caribbean? In what ways have indigenous and local knowledge been overlooked, even as that knowledge informed scientific innovation or management techniques over time? How can environmental history reveal new perspectives on the history of colonialism, inequality, and resistance in the region? Case studies range from hurricanes in the Caribbean to the fight of the Indigenous Cofán against oil spills in Ecuador. Students will learn how to think and write like historians through participation in class discussions, regular short response papers, and creative research toward a final project.

Cross Listed Courses

Grading Basis

RLT - Letter (ABCD/NP)





Course Repeatable for Degree Credit?


Course Component


Enrollment Optional?



HISTORY378 is a completion requirement for: