GL 325:  Cities in Latin American


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Spring Quarter 2006-2006

Dr. Samuel Martland, Moench C 202, 872-6034

Email:  martland@rose-hulman.eduMy homepage.


Golden Arches, Globalization, and De-Industrialization:  A railroad station and former factory turned into a shopping plaza, Buenos Aires, Argentina (My photo, ca. May 1997).  What people were proud of:  Someone sent this postcard of Buenos Aires's city water filters as a New Year's greeting card in 1907 (In my collection). 


  This course will look at Latin America's cities, today and yesterday.  Key topics will include violence, globalization, public works, and the lives of city people. 

    In 1994, about three quarters of Latin America's 477 million people lived in cities, compared to about "half the world's population" (Source:, Jan. 9 ).  Over 20 million people live in and around Mexico City, the world's second largest urban area.  Over 11 million live in and around Buenos Aires, Argentina, the eighth largest.  Over 10 million live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the tenth largest (Source:, Jan. 9, 2006.  Even before so many people lived in Latin America's cities, they were centers of native civilizations, European colonies, and modern independent nations.  Nineteenth-century civil engineering, twentieth century social movements, and twenty-first century globalization have all shaped them.  The newest technology often came there first.  The greatest wealth exists alongside the most miserable poverty, the flashiest high-rises alongside the most desperate slums.  Some cities' voters, protestors, owners, or politicians have controlled whole national governments.  Some Latin American cities are dangerous and crime-ridden, while others are much safer than their counterparts in the US.


    Each student will write a research paper of about fifteen pages on a topic related to a city or cities in Latin American History.  That could include anything from Carnival in Rio in the last 20 years to Inca stonework five hundred years ago, from the fashion boutiques of Buenos Aires to the Cuban-exile community in Miami.  I'll guide you through the research and writing with a series of proposals, drafts, and opportunities for feedback.  The various stages of the research project will add up to about 60% of your grade.  Class participation, reviewing other students' drafts, and short assignments on assigned reading will make up the rest. 

More about the format

    I will assign a variety of readings.  I will also use film, slides, and other materials when appropriate.  The syllabus from 2004,  when I taught this course as GL 399:  Latin American Urban History, will give you a good idea of the format of the course.  I will assign some of the same readings.  This course has roughly the same format as Disasters and Modern Society since 1700.

No previous courses on Latin America are needed.

    Anyone can take this course.  You don't have to know Spanish, but if you are interested in using Spanish-language materials I can help you find them. 


     If you have any questions, please email me (