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Hacking History

Towards a Digital History of Latin America

History 498: Experiments in Latin American and Digital History

Dr. Jeremy M. Mikecz

class hours: Mondays 2:00-4:50pm

Taper Hall (THH) 115

History and Digital Humanities

Latin America is a region often seen in extremes. It is home to great wealth and great poverty. It is one of the most urbanized parts of the world with many of its people living in mega-cities such as Mexico City, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, and Buenos Aires. Yet, it also hosts the longest mountain range (the Andes) and largest rainforest (the Amazon) in the world. It is often viewed in opposition to North America, yet, nonetheless, shares many similarities with its northern neighbors.

Understanding the region’s history is complicated by the fact that this history has often been written by outsiders. Spanish and Portuguese invaders wrote their own versions of indigenous history while simultaneously destroying many indigenous records. Other Europeans, in turn, wrote highly condemnatory histories of the Spanish conquest, for example, while leaving out their own atrocities in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Today, the region is too often seen by the West as the home of famine and civil unrest (Venezuela), gang violence (Mexico and Central America), and “banana republics.” However, it is also the site of great social and scientific innovation, community activism, and cultural exchange.

Just how can we separate myth from history? Stereotypes from real trends? This class will explore the ways digital tools and methods may help us answer these questions. It will do so by focusing on three overarching themes: imperial expansion and invasion, urbanization, and migration. Within these three main themes, attention will also be paid to social justice, human-environmental interaction, inequalities, and historical myths and narratives. While studying these topics, students will learn and apply some basic digital skills in programming, quantitative data analysis, text analysis, Geographic Information Systems, and data visualization. Students will also reflect critically on what it means to be human and a citizen of the world in the Digital Age.

This class is perfect for students interested in learning about the history of Latin America while also developing and honing skills in these digital platforms as well as traditional writing and reading skills.

For full syllabus click here