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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Roundtable: “Teaching about U.S. Intervention in a Time of War: Lessons from Latin American History

Here are some random notes from the Roundtable: "Teaching about U.S. Intervention in a Time of War: Lessons from Latin American History" from the Historians Against the War National Conference, "War And Its Discontents: Understanding Iraq And The U.S. Empire."

Margaret Power (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chair): danger of simplistic parallels btwn LA & ME–of transposing from one diverse region to another, but still need to draw connections. Importance of introducing concept of solidarity.

Anore Horton (Guilford College): Framed LA survey as teaching what liberalism is, and how the history & ideology of liberalism helps interpret US intervention in LA–not just military, but also economic links. Student resistance to economic concepts & political theory, but it helps link histories of independence struggles. Liberalism has political and economic aspects. Eg: link individualism and freedom. Trace history of liberalism and resistance to it, leading to neo-liberalism. Resistance at beginning of semester, but transformed by the end. More complex understanding of roles of US.

Ian Lekus (Tufts University): How queer teaching has evolved. History of study abroad in Costa Rica as place to understand role of US in world. Thinking about how experiences shape policies. Interests are not self-evident, but shaped and formed for specific purposes. Need to meet students where they are, not where we want them to be. Link study abroad to broader political critiques, and to show how Latin American becomes, as Greg Grandin says, empire’s workshop.

Enrique Ochoa (California State University, Los Angeles): Playing off of Grandin, the classroom is also a workshop of empire. Mostly Latino students. Nicaraguan father, keen awareness of imperialism. Latin America imperial concept, comes out of Napoleon in 1850s trying to control Mexico. Issues of erasure and homogenization. Pressing boundaries of what Latin America means. Create ideas of rethinking and remembering histories. Make macro & micro connections in classroom. How are connections made? What Juan Gonzales calls harvest of empire. Cultural influences and imports. Classroom as space of colonization, reinforces models. Try to break down and through this. Challenge the spaces in which we operate so as not to reproduce what we critique.

Ginger Williams (Winthrop University): Personal story of driving to work on September 11, 2001 thinking about calling Juan Allende, Salvador Allende’s nephew to say thinking about the anniversary of the coup there. Hard year–felt stifled. As war dragged on, administrative statements made talking about torture in class easier. Brought in torture survivors from Latin America to class who experienced same things that were happening in Abu Ghraib in news. Opened up spaces to talk about these issues. Makes talking about these issues easier, and we know we were doing these things in LA long before it became news in ME. Becomes involved in service learning as great way to expose students to these issues, esp. since lost license to take study abroad trips to Cuba.

Following these initial presentations a lively discussion followed on issues of pedagogy and empowerment. You really had to be there.

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