Ecology and Natural Disasters in Colonial Spanish America

SPAN 324

This course will offer a historical perspective of the way ecology, natural disasters, and human actions are intrinsically intertwined. We will examine visual and written materials that depict and articulate how natural disasters and climate in general have impacted human interactions and ecosystems in Latin America from the early modern period to contemporary times. Finally, we will  particularly focus on the manner in which cultural identities and human lives are affected by the way ecosystems are changed and transformed.

The recent powerful earthquake in Mexico, the strongest hurricane ever recorded devastating Puerto Rico, and the current fires in California are daily reminders of how natural disasters can affect our relationship with the environment. How does climate (the combination of geography and environment) influence culture, politics, and history? Is the preoccupation with climate something recent, a response to our contemporary way of life, or does it have a cultural history of its own? There is no doubt that earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts, and epidemic diseases constitute environmental conditions that affect the manner in which individuals live and interact with each other. In this sense, it is important to pay attention to the manner in which people, governments, and societies have historically responded to them.

Texts, discussion, and written assignments will be in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 228.

Tuesdays/Thursdays 9:30am – 10:50am

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