Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SPAN3001 Historical Memory in Modern Latin America

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • major debates in modern Latin American history, politics and society
  • theoretical debates regarding what is history and the constitution of historical memories,
  • processes of creating national identities, myths and histories
  • processes of forging oppositional identities, consciousness and movements
  • The suppression of historical memory.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write and speak with some authority on Latin America
  • write analytical essays and articles
  • conduct research in the humanities and social sciences
  • deliver competent oral presentations
  • lead and participate in intellectual discussions
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work with and analyse primary and secondary historical materials
  • discuss the uses and abuses of history
  • extract key conceptual and theoretical issues from historical literatures
  • think about and discuss debates about historical memory
  • engage in advanced work that relates to modern Latin America, both academic and non-academic
  • undertake post-graduate work in the humanities or social sciences
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse debates regarding what is history,
  • analyse debates regarding historical memory, particularly how historical memory is forged, reworked and/or suppressed
  • analyse connections between historical memory and national identity


The module begins with theoretical debates about historical memory, oral history and ‘what is history.’ It examines struggles over how history was remembered and forgotten in a number of Latin American countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the place of history in contemporary politics. The module analyses why some governments tried to exterminate Indians while others attempted to eliminate Indians by assimilation, and how these processes are remembered. It explores the myth of racial democracy in Brazil and the ‘disappearance’ of Afro-Argentines and the impact on memory and political activity. The module also explores how state policies conflated women with mothers, and how this played retrogressive or progressive roles in different times and places. Finally, the module assesses how Left movements were represented in official histories and collective memory. You will develop an understanding of the role of historical memory in creating national identities and how ongoing debates about the past shape the present with particular reference to the work of truth commissions. Case studies are drawn from some of the following countries: Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Nicaragua and Mexico. Material studied will include primary and secondary sources, testimonial writing and films.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars Learning activities include • using and evaluating primary and secondary historical texts • selecting and analysing historical and more non-traditional materials for class presentations and essays presenting theoretical and analytical conclusions in essays, oral presentations The lectures and seminars will treat theoretical and analytical issues relating to historical memory in general and in the Latin American context in particular. In seminars, you will be encouraged to discuss theoretical and analytical issues as they apply to the Latin American material at the core of the programme, and to consider these issues in a comparative framework. The essays and seminar presentation work will demonstrate your grasp of the theoretical and analytical issues at hand, as well as your writing and presentations skills. The class presentation will enable you to develop confidence in their ability to present analytical material in oral form in such a way as to interest an audience of your peers.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Priscilla Hayner (2002). Unspeakable Truths –Facing the challenge of truth commissions. 

Elizabeth Jelin (2003). State repression and the struggles for memory. 

Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson (2006). The Oral History Reader. 

Steve Stern (2006). Remembering Pinochet’s Chile. 

Lynn Abrams (2010). Oral History Theory. 

Daniel James (2000). Dona Maria’s Story. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • group discussions in seminars


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  (500 words) 45%
Essay  (2000 words) 45%
Presentation 10%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings