Debates in Latin American Social Theory


LTS 3110 Debates in Latin American Social Theory: Black and Indigenous Life Futures 

Professor: Rojo Robles, PhD    


*I respond to emails from Monday to Thursday during regular working hours 9:00 am-5:00 pm. Estimated time to respond 1-2 days. *

Office (student) hours:  Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 pm (Office 4-272). This designated time is to discuss any questions, needs, or concerns about the class. We can meet briefly if you have a quick question or schedule a longer session if you need help with coursework or content. If you would prefer to meet at some other time, that is also a possibility, just write me an e-mail and we could set up a meeting time that works for both of us.

Course blog: 

Class meets:  Wednesdays 2:30-3:45 pm at Baruch College, Vertical Building, Tenth Floor, Room 10-135 (B- Vert 10-135). As decided by the group all classes will be in person.

Weekly announcements: Mondays

Land acknowledgment: The City University of New York (CUNY) is in Lenapehoking, the ancestral, unceded lands of the Lenape people. They were the original stewards of this land and its many different habitats. Lenapehoking includes parts of what we now know as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. In this class, we will acknowledge, learn from and pay respect to Lenape people, past and present. This land has great significance to the Lenape who were forced to leave it by European and later US colonists. We must recognize this fact as we explore the thought, arts, and culture of native and Afro-diasporic people of the Americas. 

Institutional course description: This course examines the intellectual debates in Latin American history and culture. The class will focus on the role of race, gender, and ethnicity as variables that affect socio-economic mobility in Latin America and affect concepts of national identity. We will explore the impact of European and African immigration on indigenous heritage peoples in Latin America and how the various ethnic groups have produced hybrid cultures in the arts, cuisine, and in other cultural idioms that have shaped poly-cultural Latin American and US Latino communities. The broad scope of this course is an ideal starting point for minors in Latino Studies and for students who plan to include Latin American Studies in their majors.

Course description for this section: The concept of Black and indigenous ecology builds up from the fact that processes derived from imperialism, colonization, and racialization have created direct and indirect segregation policy and the establishing of literal and symbolic borders that separate the elites from the historically marginalized. The creation of different environments reflects the violently imposed hierarchies of power and the ways the Western hemisphere was founded on stolen land, built through the labor of stolen lives and the destruction of ecosystems. The mainstream solutions set forth by the current political and economic powers for the “ecological crisis” are reformist and evasive of the social and political transformation that Black and indigenous environmental sustainability demands. This course will examine Latin American, Caribbean, US Native American, and Afro-diasporic ecological thought, poetics, audiovisual media, and actions.  During the first part of the semester, we will explore maroon history, logic, and afterlives. The second half will be dedicated to examining hemispheric fights for indigenous sovereignty and the exploration of responsible ways of being and relating to our planet Earth and manifesting futures.

Student-centered pedagogy: The student-centered approach puts participants’ interests first by acknowledging their needs as central to the learning experience. Rather than designing the course from the professor’s perspective, it will be designed from the learner’s perspective. Each student will select their learning path via an option-based practice. 

Course objectives: During this course, students will:

. Survey some critical and theoretical debates about the history, cultures, and ecological knowledge of Afro-Latin Americans and indigenous people.

. Deepen knowledge of the cultural values, traditions, achievements, and history of indigenous, (Afro) Latin Americans and Caribbean people. 

. Demonstrate knowledge of the dynamics of colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, migration, and diasporic formations concerning the experience of Latin Americans.

. Articulate experiences of resistance, racial, cultural, and ecological affirmation in a transnational context.

. Interpret the content, discourse, and poetic form particular to Afro-Latin American and indigenous Cultural Studies through different writing styles and textual formats: the blog post, the argumentative essay, social media, creative writing, or audio piece.

. Take ownership of the content, determine how it will be useful or relevant to them, and build the connections to allow learning to happen.

. Discuss, debate, and get inspired to keep learning about contemporary issues in Latin America and keep engaging in Black, Latin American, Native, and Latinx Studies.

Statement on grades and assessments: Grades do not reflect the subjective character of learning nor societal issues of access and equity. Everybody learns in complex ways that grades usually cannot reflect. This course will focus on qualitative assessment. Qualitative assessment is driven by the intention of understanding how people make meaning of and experience the sources they engage with. While you will get a final grade at the end of the semester, I will not be grading individual assignments, but rather commenting and asking questions that engage your work.

Grade breakdown: 

Online posts (3% each x 10): 30% (+ 1 extra-credit post)

Class presentation: 10%

Midterm project + self-evaluation: 25%

Final project + self-evaluation: 25%

Attendance & participation: 10%

Self-evaluation: You will reflect critically on your learning (with specific questions and rubrics) and evaluate your midterm and final project. After interacting with your work, I will give you feedback on your midterm and optionally of your final. If there is a disparity between your self-evaluations and my appreciation of your work, I reserve the right to enter into debate with your self-assessment. 


93-100 A; 90-92 =A-; 87-89 =B+; 83-86 =B; 80-82 =B-; 77-79 = C+

73-76 = C; 70-72 = C-; 67-70 = D+; 63-66 = D; 60-62 = D-; <60 = F

Attendance: Students are encouraged to attend and be on time for all in-person and zoom sessions (if applicable) and to submit online posts. If you are having issues with your access to the Internet or attending in-person or synchronous zoom sessions, please contact me to find solutions and alternative engagements. After three absences your standing in class could be affected. If you are missing a lot of work, I will contact you to discuss how to re-engage. Special consideration will be taken for those affected by COVID 19. Please communicate your needs and concerns.

Statement on academic honesty: Learning involves the pursuit of honesty and dialogue which cannot be achieved by presenting someone else’s work as your own. Writing in college means taking part in a conversation with other scholars, writers, and thinkers. By using academic citation, you demonstrate the relationship between your ideas and those of others. On the other hand, plagiarism is the failure to prove that relationship. I want to hear your voices and read the ways you get involved in the dialogue. Part of your academic experience is to enter these conversations by learning different ways to engage with sources. 

If questions remain, ask me. For the record, if you violate the precepts of academic honesty, you will receive a zero for the assignment.

Baruch College guides and resources 

Statement on missing work: If you have concerns about assignment due dates or the use of technology, please, let me know ahead of time. I am ready to work with you. Special consideration will be taken for those affected by COVID 19. I will deduct the full percentage of any missing work from your final grade. You are encouraged to email me or request a zoom meeting for any questions or further clarification of any readings, audiovisual pieces, and assignments.  

Course materials:  All readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs or links.

Languages: Although I will conduct the class in English if you feel more comfortable and/or want to do work in either Spanish, Spanglish, Portuguese, or French, you may also write/create in any of these languages.

Looking for a minor or major? Make BLS your choice: The Department of Black and Latino Studies offers interdisciplinary, intersectional approaches to the study of the ideas, history, politics, literature, music, religions, cultures, economic and social contributions by people of African and Latin American descent, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Our courses practice skills in critical thinking and analysis, advanced writing, communication, and research. They also engage digital literacies, collaboration, and project management— important workforce skills. The interdisciplinary structure of our courses also offers excellent preparation for graduate school and careers in education, the law, business, public relations, marketing, journalism, the arts, and education.