Ignacio Martín Baró Prize Lectureship


Each year CLAS invites advanced doctoral students from all divisions and disciplines  to apply for an Ignacio Martín-Baró Prize Lectureship in Latin American Studies. This award supports the teaching of a one-quarter undergraduate course of the recipient's own design, focusing on a major Latin American political issue or question pertaining to human rights in Latin America. Priority is given to course proposals appropriate for cross-listing in Human Rights. Pending funding, one lectureship will be awarded, with a salary of $5,000. To be eligible, the student must have defended the dissertation proposal, or have scheduled the dissertation proposal defense for no later than the quarter in which the course is to be taught.


The Ignacio Martín-Baró Program was established to honor the memory of slain colleague and distinguished member of the University of Chicago community, Father Ignacio Martín-Baró, who lived a life committed to the human values of democracy, social justice and service to the poor, silenced, and dispossessed. Ignacio Martín-Baró was an ordained Jesuit priest, born in Spain in 1942. Upon joining the Jesuit order, Martín-Baró was sent to El Salvador where he studied psychology. He came to the University of Chicago in 1976 to pursue graduate studies and three years later received his doctorate in Social Psychology. Upon returning to El Salvador, he found himself in the midst of a violent civil war, which had been ravaging the country for more than a decade. Despite many death threats and brutal acts of repression suffered by colleagues, students and friends, Father Martín-Baró continued to pursue a brilliant teaching and research career as pastor of a rural parish on the outskirts of San Salvador. On the morning of November 16, 1989, Father Martín-Baró, along with five Jesuit brothers, their housekeeper, and her daughter, became victims of their commitment to the dispossessed of El Salvador. That morning armed soldiers took them away and executed them. The Ignacio Martín-Baró Endowed Program was created by then-President of the University of Chicago Hannah Holborn Gray to honor the life and memory of this extraordinary individual. The endowment is administered by the Center for Latin American Studies and supports an annual lectureship awarded to an advanced graduate student to teach a course of his/her design related to politics and human rights in Latin America.


Applications will open Feb. 1, 2016


Contact Jamie Gentry

2015-16 Prize Lectureship Courses

Eric Hirsch


Spring 2016

Latin America "After" Development

LACS 26616

The Latin American region has long been imagined as a crucible for forging theories about how to conduct development interventions, on both right and left. Since the region’s “discovery” exposed it to centuries of colonization, Latin America has also helped organize how the West has defined the idea of indigenous people, understood indigeneity as a “problem” to be solved, and imagined how to incorporate those identified as indigenous—or exclude them—within larger polities. In this course, students will read texts and engage with media that explore the ways in which development and indigenous human rights intersect and have come to be at stake together in diverse sites throughout Latin America. To what extent do indigenous rights in Latin America mean the right to develop, or, crucially, to not develop? What is it about this region that has made it such an important place in our contemporary moment for thinking about how best to conduct development interventions? And most broadly, what does the Latin American context teach us about what it means to “develop,” what it means to be “indigenous,”what it means to be “human,” and what it means to have “rights” in today’s world?

Christopher Dunlap


Spring 2016

Sciences as Solutions to Latin American Challenges, 1500-2000

LACS 26617

Long before European contact with the Americas, indigenous peoples used science and technology to solve challenges and problems unique to their times and spaces. We will analyze scientific practice in the colonial/Atlantic World era, then proceed to more detailed case studies of how sciences and technologies were funded, disseminated, taught, and marshaled against a variety of challenges to health, society, and prosperity in the region up to the present day. We will also examine why the pursuit and application of scientific and technological knowledge has taken a decidedly different trajectory in Latin America than in highly developed North Atlantic countries. 


Emlio de Antunano Villareal

The Right to the City in Latin America
Winter 2015
LACS xxxxx

This course will explore one simple, yet crucial, question: Have twentieth-century Latin America cities constituted spaces of emancipation and inclusion or spaces of political and social exclusion? At the heart of this question lies the paradox of millions of people consistently and willingly migrating into cities often characterized by gross inequality, poverty, and political oppression. Dealing with these matters asks for an understanding of several historical processes–global and rural-urban migration, urbanization, and demographic growth–that have transformed Latin American societies from rural communities into urban ones. But answering the normative side of the question additionally demands an understanding of the historicity of political concepts such as citizenship, equality, democracy, and human rights, without which we cannot make a reckoning of twentieth-century Latin American cities. 

2013–14 Gregory Duff Morton 

Social Rights and the New Social Democracies in Latin America

LACS 26514
Spring 2014

Over the past ten years, Latin Americans have revived and reinvented these classic human rights questions. Left-wing governments, elected in a wave that traversed the region, have made vigorous attempts both to create new rights and to talk about rights in new ways: in the terms of “citizenship,” “participation,” and “struggle.” As a result, Latin America’s new social democracies, the unexpected sign of the millennium, were born speaking the language of rights. The new social democracies operate at a specific economic and cultural juncture. In this class, we will take the juncture as an opportunity to think through some general questions. Why do rights emerge at certain moments in history? What context makes it possible for new rights to achieve recognition? How is the current debate on rights connected to a long tradition of political practice in Latin America? Can people meaningfully possess socioeconomic rights, which do not primarily depend on a judiciary, andcollective rights, which lack an individual subject? What are the limits that rights discourse imposes, and what alternatives are available for thinking about social democracy?                                 

 This course will not focus narrowly on governmental rights claims, but will strive to engage with the post-neoliberal moment as common historical reality and shared dilemma for many sorts of people throughout Latin America. We will open with an examination of rights and legal practice at key points in Latin America’s past. We will look, in particular, at three issues: the legal apparatus that accompanied Spanish conquest, the troubled relationship between liberalism and slavery, and the resurgence of social rights during the populist moment in the mid-twentieth century. After considering the history behind the current moment, we will investigate at length the economy and culture of contemporary post-neoliberalism. We will then move to consider the voicings involved in speaking from an indigenous position. Next we will inquire how social democracy engages with new subjects: the subjects of participation and citizenship.  This will lead us to an analysis of new social programs (with conditional cash transfers as our key example) and the debates about economic rights that they inspire. We will conclude by assessing contemporary points of crossing between the collective and the universal.

2012–13  Adrian Anagnost
Art History

Art and Politics in Twentieth-Century Latin America

Spring 2013

Art of 20th century Latin America has been understood in relation to ideologies of nation-building, revolution, and responses to U.S. imperialism. Addressing a range of artistic styles and media from Mexico to the Southern Cone, this course broadens the idea of Latin American art and politics beyond an event-based understanding of politics, presenting a historical survey of interactions among politics, fine arts, and visual culture in 20th-century Latin America. 

Topics include: muralism and mass media during the Mexican Revolution; geometric abstraction and postwar developmental nationalism in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela; artistic pedagogy and Cold War revolutionary and reactionary movements in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Colombia; conceptual art under authoritarianism in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil; and contemporary responses to globalization, including transnational art practices. We will study political trends, historical events, and cultural contexts; their relationship to the production and reception of the visual arts; and the ways that artists expressed political sentiment in their work and personas.
Methodologically, students will gain understanding of stylistic developments in art across twentiethcenturyLatin America, learn fundamental visual analysis skills, practice library research, anddevelop the use of visual evidence in persuasive writing. The course will include firsthandexperience with artworks during required visits to Chicago museums and galleries.

2012–13 | Meghan Morris


Human Rights and the Environment in Latin America
LACS 2013 | Spring 2013 

This course will explore the theoretical and political debates raised by human rights and environmental problems in Latin America, as well as the progressive development of the doctrinal and institutional linkages between human rights and the environment in the region.  The course will begin with an exploration of the history and theory of human rights, the integration of environmental claims into human rights discourse, and the politics of transnational human rights and environmental advocacy.  I twill then move into a series of weekly themes (including land, energy, trade and investment, food, war, water and air, and climate change). Around which discussion of key conceptual issues and case studies of particular human rights and environmental problems will be organized. 

2011–12 | Laura Zoe-Humphries

Intellectuals and the Cuban State 
Spring 2012

In this course, we will examine the changing social and political role of Cuban intellectuals from the beginning of the Revolution to the late socialist period. We will look at how Cuban intellectuals have struggled varyingly to define themselves as builders of “true” socialism and as strident social critics bringing to light hidden truths about the nation. Rather than treating censorship and freedom of speech as universal standards against which cultural production can be tallied in a cross-cultural index, we will examine these phenomena as contested cultural processes with often unexpected effects. This course combines Cuban films and novels with secondary texts drawn from history, anthropology, film studies, and literary studies. Methodologically, we will therefore also inquire into how film and literary studies’ attention to the form and style of aesthetic texts can be brought into productive conversation with anthropology’s attention to culture and social process.

2010–11 | Erica Simmons
Political Science

From Castro to Chiapas: Contentious Politics in Latin America
Winter 2011

This course is intended to serve as an introduction to the major empirical and theoretical themes in the study of contentious politics in contemporary Latin America. The course begins by exposing students to the dominant theoretical paradigms in the study of contentious politics as well as some prominent critiques. The course then turns to empirical themes in Latin American contentious politics, challenging students to use and question the theoretical tools to which they have already been exposed. Cases will focus on revolutions, challenges to dictatorships and democracies, urban and rural organizing, identity based movements, and resistance to globalization.

2010–11 | Amy Cooper
Comparative Human Development
Medicine in Modern Latin America: History, Politics, Lived Experience
Winter 2011

This course explores the history of medicine in both political and experiential terms, focusing on the introduction and incorporation of biomedicine in Latin American contexts and contemporary issues in the provision of public health care in Latin America. This course will reflect on the relationship between state power, local sources of autonomy and resistance, and subjective experiences of illness and health as they play out in particular settings and across different time periods.

2009–10 | João Felipe Gonçalves
Cuba in Socialism and DIaspora
Spring 2010

This course examines the emergence and development of the conflict between the Cuban regime and its exiled opponents, by looking closely at the political culture of both sides of the Cuban national divide. It also considers the implications of this conflict for the broader Latin American and United States contexts.

2008–09| Patrick Iber
U.S. Imperialism in Latin America
Autumn 2008

As the 1990s gave rise to increasing public awareness of “globalization”, so have recent years renewed discussion of the United States as an empire. In fact, neither phenomenon is new. Drawing primarily from recent historical scholarship that explores the connections between globalization and empire, this course examines behavior of the United States in Latin America and the ways that various countries in the region have alternately embraced, confronted, and managed a powerful neighbor. From the Spanish-American War of 1898 to the Central American conflicts of the 1980s, we will analyze military, economic, and cultural forms of imperialism. Studying the writings of skeptics, champions, and critics of the term, we will ask what historical analysis and politics have to gain (or lose) through the use of the concept of “imperialism”.

2007–08 | Sarah Osten

Women and Revolution in Latin America                  

Winter 2008

This course examines the history of the participation of women in revolutionary movements in 20th century Latin America. The intent of the course is to interrogate the political, social, military, economic and personal implications and consequences of female participation in primarily male-dominated armed movements, from a historical perspective. Via in-depth study of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959, and beyond) and the Nicaraguan Revolution (1973-1979), we will look at similarities, differences, and commonalities between the modes of participation of women in three distinct case studies, which are spread geographically across Latin America, and chronologically across the 20th century. With two weeks devoted to each case study, students will first become familiarized with the histories of each of these Revolutions and their respective political contexts, and then subsequently focus on the participation of women within the Revolutions. Whenever possible we will consider the roles that women played on both (or multiple) sides of these three conflicts. In the last week of the course we will return to Mexico, bringing the comparison full-circle, looking at the participation of Mayan women within the modern Zapatista movement in southern Mexico today.

Particular attention will be paid to a) the national and international political contexts of each of these three armed conflicts, and likewise the political and ideological contexts of the participation of women in each, and b) the congruence, of lack thereof, of revolutionary feminist or pro-woman rhetoric employed by the leaders of the revolutionary groups in questions, and the treatment, participation, and rise to power of and by women within those same movements. At what point did male leaders choose to attempt to include women in their movements and/or incorporate women into their ranks, and why? And at what point did women choose to join these movements, and why? Last, c) we will consider the long-term political impacts that these women’s participation in these struggles had, or were hoped to have had, in each nation in question.

2006–07 | João Felipe Gonçalves 
Cuba in Socialism and DIaspora
Spring 2007

This course examines the emergence and development of the conflict between the Cuban regime and its exiled opponents, by looking closely at the political culture of both sides of the Cuban national divide. It also considers the implications of this conflict for the broader Latin American and United States contexts.

2005–06 | Aaron Ansell
The Rise of Left-Wing Governments in Latin America
Spring 2006

But over the last six years, elections in Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Bolivia have put into power presidents advocating a rupture with neoliberal policies in the name of the popular classes. Why? This course looks at a broad series of economic, social, and institutional changes throughout the last twenty years in Latin America, and asks how political consciousness has been shaped and reshaped so as to bring the region to this current rise in left-wing sentiment. What common circumstances have brought these governments to power? Do they really share a basic understanding of what “left” means today? What kinds of policy directions are they taking, and how might they strive towards regional unity? This course aims to: 1) acquaint students with Latin America’s emerging political landscape, 2) help students to situate the phenomena addressed within broader historical processes, and 3) engage students in thinking about the social and economic factors that influence political consciousness.