Introduction to Latin American Politics and Societies

Discussion Paper Instructions

Students are expected to write a one-page double-spaced discussion paper (approx. 250 words, excluding bibliography) based on the assigned readings. Responses to “Discuss” prompts listed with each week’s meeting in the syllabus (below). Your papers should be ~1 page in length or about 250 words, double spaced. Your task is to critically engage with the assigned week’s material by providing a critical overview of the assigned readings  NOT only summary, but also paying attention to what the larger issues are and what the literature has said about it. Papers should respond to the question and draw from course materials to support your positions, assertions, and analyses.

This short essay should be a critical overview of the topic covered in that module and critically engage with the required readings. In doing so, students must highlight the larger issues/debates surrounding the topic, draw linkages among the readings, and between the readings and the topic, and highlight how the topic fits within the larger issues covered in the course. Note that these papers should not be summaries of the week’s assigned readings; rather, they should develop theoretical, empirical, or methodological critiques of one or more articles and/or highlight new directions for future research on the week’s topic. Please see the grading rubric below for guidance on how response papers will be assessed.

Learning objectives: Art of succinct writing/summarizing large and complex ideas in a coherent manner.

Please note, it is nearly impossible to write any paper, no matter how short, without a significant amount of prewriting and revision. There will be many potential arguments to each prompt. Your task is to find the best argument you can make and to make care that your prose is the servant of your ideas – not vice versa. Discussion papers will be due via Quercus before the start of the classes to which they correspond.

For all written work in this course, please use the Chicago Manual of Style’s in-text author-date format as you cite your sources. You should also include a Works Cited list at the end of your work. The Works Cited section will not count in length/word count restrictions.

Canada in Latin America


• Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (2017) Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America. Toronto: Osgoode Hall Law School.
o Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2886584

• Simon Granovsky-Larsen and Larissa Santos (2020) From the War on Terror to a War on Territory: Corporate Counterinsurgency at the Escobal Mine and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 46 (1): 121-145.


• Latino Media Collective (2019) Canada’s Role in Venezuela Crisis https://latinomediacollective.com/2019/05/03/may-3rd-2019-canadas-role-in-venezuela-crisis/


1. How has Canada’s role in the Americas shifted in the twentieth and twenty-first
2. To what extent is the Canadian government, or Canadian citizens, responsible for the
actions of Canadian companies abroad?
3. Other questions? What else should we be discussing?

Current Events and Further Reading

Links including everything from online newspapers to government ministries is The Latin America Network Information Center. http://lanic.utexas.edu

The Washington Office on Latin America is a policy lobbying organization focusing on issues of human rights, security and justice. http://www.wola.org

NACLA Report offers analysis of Latin American conditions from a critical perspective. http://www.nacla.org

Good analysis on regional trends in crime and public insecurity http://www.insightcrime.org

Inter-American Dialogue (analysis of political and economic trends) http://thedialogue.org

The United States Institute of Peace (conflict resolution, includes database of peace accord documents) http://www.usip.org

Among Latin American based research centers, for wide-ranging and timely scholarship see FLACSO (with sites in several LA countries) http://www.flacso.org

Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean is a United Nations agency dedicated to studying and promoting development in the region https://www.cepal.org/en

Grading Rubric:

A: Excellent work, with clear, challenging, original ideas supported by sufficient, appropriate, logically interpreted evidence. The essay should engage the reader in the inquiry, convincingly answer opposing views, be well organized, and free of significant flaws. An ‘A’ paper should be not just good but outstanding in ideas and presentation.

B: Good to very good work, with a clear thesis supported by sufficient, appropriate evidence, organized and interpreted logically. The ‘B’ paper may have some outstanding qualities but be marked by significant flaws which keep it from being an ‘A’; or it may be all-around good work, free of major problems but lacking the deeper insight necessary for excellence.

C: Satisfactory work, but not yet good. The ‘C’ paper meets the basic requirements of a thesis supported by interpretation of specific evidence, but it needs work in thinking and/or presentation. There may be a lack of clarity, the evidence may not always be sufficient and appropriate, or the interpretation may have logical flaws. The essay may have organizational or mechanical problems that keep it from being good. The ‘C’ paper may be good in some respects but poor in others, or it may simply be adequate but not noteworthy overall.