Spring 2016 - SA 460 D100

Special Topics in Sociology and Anthropology I (SA) (4)

Theories of Latin Amer Dev

Class Number: 9127

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 5 – Apr 11, 2016: Fri, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Minimum 72 units including SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



An advanced seminar devoted to an in-depth examination of a topic not regularly offered by the department.


Selected Topics - Theories of Latin American Development

This course explores theories of international development through the lens of social and economic issues in Latin America. Drawing upon an interdisciplinary set of readings in history, sociology, political science, and anthropology, we will pay careful attention to the ways a study constructs, employs or challenges the very idea of “development.” This critical reading of development literature will lead us to examine today’s pressing social issues in Latin America including indigenous movements, urban poverty, debt, neoliberalism, violence, public health, environmental politics and sustainability. As an upper-level seminar, students will be expected to engage not only class readings but also the writing and work-in-progress that they bring to the table.

The trajectory of the course will move across three major sets of questions. The first part traces development paradigms in Latin America historically, examining competing social theories that shaped divergent approaches to development in the region. This first part of the seminar will therefore provide both a history of political economy in Latin America and an introduction to theoretical frameworks in the sociology of development. The second part of the course will take a more critical perspective, problematizing the concept and discourse of “development.” In this unit, we will also consider alternatives to development or ways of addressing poverty and inequality that push beyond development frameworks in Latin America. Finally, we will read four ethnographies that examine the lived experience of development— the ways different actors and social movements on the ground have managed, challenged, or otherwise engaged with development projects. Exploring a range of historical, political, social, and economic issues in contemporary Latin America, these ethnographies will also lead us to re-examine theories of development encountered throughout the semester.


  • Short essays (15% each) 45%
  • Presentation 5%
  • Participation/Discussion Leading 15%
  • Research Paper 35%


For the research paper, students will be able to choose, based on their interests, a specific program, policy, or political struggle that concerns poverty or social inequality in contemporary Latin America. Students will also have the opportunity to workshop drafts of their short essays in class and revise them prior to submission.


All graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Integrity:
The School for International Studies and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology follow SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐ S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



João Biehl, Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival. Princeton University Press,

Monica C. Dehart, Ethnic Entrepreneurs: Identity and Development Politics in Latin America. Duke
University Press, 2010.

Gastón R. Gordillo, Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Duke University Press, 2014.

Sujatha Fernandes, Who Can Stop the Drums?: Urban Social Movements in Chávez’s Venezuela,
Duke University Press, 2010.

Other readings will be available through Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html