LAS 325 • 1-SOCIETY OF MODERN MEXICO
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
The aim of this course is to introduce students to modern Mexico - its geography, economy, polity and society, and to examine in detail the nature and the forces of change that have impacted so dramatically upon the country during the past decade, not least since 2000 when the PRI stranglehold on the presidency was broken by Vicente Fox, for the Party of National Action (PAN). This year a special feature will be to consider the outcomes of the mid-term elections of July 6th upon the performance Congress. Although the focus will be unequivocally modern, it is necessary to examine Mexico's near and distant past in order to understand the heritage that imbues the present and the future. Therefore, throughout the course we will constantly be looking back at those elements from the past that help to explain the essence of Mexico's contemporary development and its identity. The course will cover a wide range of issues regional identities and diversity, political and electoral reform, economic development, industrialization, governance, urbanization, demography, labor markets, housing and social welfare, corruption and drugs; US-Mexico relations, art and culture. Thus it is designed as an introduction to contemporary Mexico, and I hope that it will provide a foundation for future study and/or for informed and sensitive visits. The course is divided into three broad sections. The first section is designed to provide a broad backdrop to the literature about Mexico's regional geography, and its economic and political/governmental6+ development. In addition, it will offer an interpretation of contemporary "opening" that is occurring in both fields. The second section delves more deeply into several aspects of the development process -- agrarian organization, demographic change, urbanization and planning -- as a prelude to our analysis of some of the key issues facing Mexico today in the fields of employment, housing, social welfare, and in the case of Mexico City, of urban management. We will observe that many of the positive responses that the country has and is experiencing are derived from initiatives and changes undertaken at the grassroots level of community and household, often informally. The final section will introduce students to other less strictly academic aspects of Mexican culture, travel, and culinary delights as a prelude to what I hope will be your many future visits. This course will also offer regular Spanish language reading/discussion groups for those students who wish to develop or maintain their Spanish and to work with non-English materials. It is anticipated that a TA will be specifically assigned for this purpose by the Teresa Long Institute of Latin American Studies.