Charles W Bergquist
Spring 2002: COLLOQUIUM IN HISTORY: COLOMBIA:THE CONTEMPORARY CRISIS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE U.S. citizens are increasingly aware of the crisis in Colombia and of the role played in it by the guerrilla insurgency, the paramilitary right and the drug trade and U.S. efforts to suppress it. What most do not appreciate very fully are the historical roots of these problems. These can be expressed as a series of paradoxes, which are explored in detail in this course. Colombia's powerful Marxist-led insurgency—the oldest and largest in the hemisphere—has developed in the country that historically had the weakest left of all the major Latin American nations. The severe economic crisis currently enveloping the nation is occurring in the country that had the most impressive record of economic growth during the twentieth century. Similarly, the contemporary breakdown of social norms and political stability is happening in a country that during most of the twentieth century functioned as a stable, restricted liberal democracy. Understanding these paradoxes helps one better evaluate prospects for a negotiated settlement between the government and the guerrilla insurgents and assess the role the United States can play in the Colombian peace process.
Previous courses in history and/or Latin American studies.
Class Assignments and Grading
Students discuss and write a short (two-page) book review on a general history of Colombia and give an oral report on a chapter in a book of readings on the contemporary situation. In consultation with the instructor they research and write a paper on an aspect of the crisis, presenting their major findings in an oral report to the class as a whole, and in a formal written paper, 15 to I8 pages in length. The research paper for the course can be done in English- or in Spanish-language sources. TEXTS: Safford and Palacios, A History of Colombia; Bergquist, Peñaranda, and Sánchez, eds. Violence in Colombia, 1990-2000: Waging War and Negotiating Peace
Book review, 10% oral report on chapter, 10% oral presentation of research findings, 30% research paper, 40% quality of overall participation in the class, 10%