Course Description

The prospect of exploring the history of the relationship between two areas of the world narrowly defined as the Pacific Rim and Latin America poses an interesting set of challenges. Both areas host hundreds of communities that have had very complicated histories with respect to their national governments and other nations. In this course, the main goal will be to determine some of the most common cultural traits and socio-historical events that shape the discourse of identity in these enormously rich geographical and cultural areas. In outlining a narrative history to our enterprise of inquiry, I have selected readings and films that, for the most part, have to do with violent episodes in the histories of both of these regions. There are several reasons why I have chosen this approach: one, is because I believe that violent periods expose the social and political frictions that, for one reason or another, have been repressed; secondly, the reasons why these violent periods erupted are oftentimes still very controversial (theories about their origins capture the interest of many scholars and artists around the world today); and third, studying the causes of violent periods can often lead to an understanding of efforts to establish peace and justice in the affected communities. This is an interdisciplinary course, and I hope students will be able to engage critically with the materials and explore their disciplinary interests with passion and respect for the diverse views presented in the articles, books, and films that are part of the curriculum.

Goals and Objectives

Some of the goals of this course are: 1) to foster a critical understanding of human rights in the Pacific Basin 2) to determine what organizations and single individuals have done to promote social justice and peace in their communities, and 3) to evaluate the contribution that artists and intellectuals have made to the ways that communities “imagine themselves.” Students will be asked to take copious notes during class discussions and as they complete their readings, and to carry out research for their final essay.

Paper #1                                    15% (3 pages)
Paper #2                                    15% (4 pages)
Paper #3                                    20% (6 pages)
4 Response papers                    25% (1-2 pages each)
Oral Presentations                     10%
Participation                               15%

Written Work

Please type all written work using a standard 12-point font, double-space the text, leave a one-inch margin on all sides, and staple multiple pages. Don’t forget to put your name and course number on the paper. Late papers will be marked down 1/3 grade for each day late.
Please follow the APA Style format for citations and general style formatting. You can find an online version of the APA style manual at:

Schedule of readings

For the most updated schedule of reading please visit the course's Wiki on Angel (

Required Textbook

Otsuka, Julie. The Buddha in the Attic. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011