Modern Central American History

Marc Becker's picture

Fordham University

Spring 2021

HIST 3967
Modern Central American History

Relevant Information

Meet Times:

Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00-2:15pm ET

Location: Online

Zoom Meeting ID: 849 9219 7683

(pw: Centam)

................................. Stephanie M. Huezo, PhD. (she/her/hers)



Student Hours:

Mondays 3:00-4:40pm and Tuesdays 11:00-12:00pm (and by appointment)

Virtual Office:

291 369 2532 (PW: meeting)

................................. Required Materials:

Valeria Luiselli,

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2017). (available through Fordham’s library)

All other readings are posted on Blackboard .................................

What is this course about?

Over the past decade, the region of Central America has been on the news. The ‘crisis’ of unaccompanied minors in 2014-2015 and the thousands of Central Americans joining caravans to escape poverty, violence, and corruption of their hometown has colored the news stories in the United States. But what led to these so-called crises and what can we learn if we focus on the perspective of Central Americans? This course covers Central American history from the dictators of the 1930s until the revolutionary decades and their aftermaths to understand historical continuities and ruptures. We will briefly discuss post-independence Central America in order to fully understand the region as a whole. Throughout our readings, we will see how different groups in Central American society have been affected by violence inherent in political corruption and U.S. imperialism and by erasure. But we will also see how these same communities have refused to be overlooked and forgotten. Our main focus will be on El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. While this may be a new topic for many of you, you will also have the opportunity to research and write about a particular topic on Central American history and present it to your peers.

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University

Spring 2021


What will I achieve in this course?

In terms of historical knowledge, you will:

  • Understand the different historical events of Central America

  • Identify continuity and ruptures in the history of Central America

    since the beginning of the 20th century

  • Identify and explain the various racial, class, and gendered

    hierarchies and how they affected the lives of Central America

  • Analyze regional and global connections within Central America and

    the United States

  • Analyze the various ways in which people challenged silences and


    In terms of historical skills, you will:

  • read texts with purpose

  • identify, describe, contextualize, and analyze historical sources

  • articulate and appreciate multiple perspectives and interpretations of

    a historical moment

  • identify, evaluate, and develop historical arguments

  • communicate more efficiently in written and oral forms.

What to expect?

This course is taught completely online.
There are synchronous and asynchronous components to our class


§ Short lectures will be recorded and made available to you at least a full day before our class.

§ You are responsible to watch the lectures and take notes to prepare for classroom discussion.


  • §  Our class time will be dedicated to virtual check-ins and discussions.

  • §  Be prepared to discuss as a whole class and in breakout rooms.

Inclusivity and


This course strives to be an inclusive learning community where we all respect each other regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, ability, national origin, immigration status, economic status, parental status, or political affiliation. It also means that we are open to the diversity of perspectives in the classroom.

As a teacher, I also strive to be transparent in all I do. I will explain the task at hand, why I have assigned it (“the purpose”), and how you will be evaluated on your performance (“the criteria”).

I invite you to approach me with any questions or concerns


you may have throughout the course.

Choose a topic

The Writing Process

Organize It Write Review and Revise

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University

Spring 2021

How is my performance in this class assessed?


Attendance & Participation

Reading Response and Discussion Lead
Historical Op-Ed Paper (5-7pgs) Final Research Proposal with Annotated Bibliography (1-2pgs) Final Paper and Panel Presentation (8-10pgs)

Due Date


March 14 April 3

Week 13-14 May 12

​ 30%

​ 10%


​ 20%

​ 20%

​ 20%

For each assignment, I will be looking for the following:

1. Clearly stated argument/thesis
2. Useofevidence
3. Concise conclusion
4. Correct spelling and grammar, engaging

introduction, and other writing essentials (supporting document uploaded to Blackboard)

5. Chicago Style Notes (link in Blackboard) 6. Bibliography
7. 12-pointfont.Double-spaced.

Roman, Garamond, or Baskerville.

Grading Scale

“A” denotes work of outstanding quality. “B” is given for work that satisfactorily meets all assignment

“C” is given for work that falls short of all assignment expectations.
“D” or lower represents incomplete work or unacceptable work.

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University Spring 2021

What assignments will I complete?

Attendance and Active Participation: Attendance and class participation is essential for our intellectual growth and for the success of this course. You are expected to sign in to class prepared with questions, responses, and ideas regarding the week’s readings. You are required to turn on your video for each class meeting. I understand that sometimes that won’t be possible. Therefore, I am allowing you three (3) unexcused “black screens.” Regardless of video, I expect you to engage with class discussion. If you do not share your video screen one day, I expect you to participate more either orally or by using the chat function. Some of us might have a harder time participating than others. If this is the case for you, I encourage you to meet with me.

In addition, you are required to meet with me during student hours twice during the course of the semester. You are welcome to meet with me more often, but I require that you make an appointment to meet with me once before Week 4 and on Week 10.

Reading Responses: Beginning on Week 3, you will have six (6) out of (9) weeks to write/create a response to the week’s theme. For three (3) weeks, you will write a 500-word reading response that analyze the readings for that week. You must include citations (author, #) and also include at least one question you might have about the reading. The other three (3) weeks, you are to create a social media post that educates a general audience about the topics discussed that week. You have the freedom to create the post as you’d like but just remember that this is your opportunity to educate others about that week’s readings. You can choose which week to submit a reading response or the social media post. Response due on Tuesday by 11:59pm. Social Media Post is due Sunday of the following week by 11:59pm.

Discussion Lead: In order to facilitate student-led discussion, you and a peer will lead a discussion on one of the designated discussion days. You are responsible to synthesize the lecture/readings and come up with thought- provoking questions that touch on the central theme for the day, the main points in the materials, and the overall course theme. Additionally, you will present either a combined primary source or a current newspaper article that connects with the readings for the day. You must submit your questions to me at least 24 hours before your scheduled presentation. There is no set time limit for the discussion, but it should be no less than 5 minutes of class time. You will choose your discussion day on the first week of class. You will be evaluated on your preparedness, the timeliness of your submission of questions, your primary source/newspaper article and its connection to the reading, and your ability to design questions that provoke discussion.

Historical Op-Ed Paper: For this assignment, you are to imagine that you are writing a short historical piece about Central American History for a young adult online magazine. This assignment will demonstrate your understanding of an historical moment and its connection to the present. For your paper, you will choose an anniversary of one of the following events we will read from Week 2-5 and write a paper reflecting upon this event in current events. You must also include an examination of how your work fits into the Curandera’s handbook (Week 1 reading). More information on BlackBoard. Due Date: Sunday, March 14 by 11:59pm.

Final Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography: In preparation for your final research paper, you are to write a 1–2-page proposal and annotated bibliography explaining your topic of choice. Your annotated bibliography should include two to three (2-3) sentences for each of your sources [two to three (2-3) secondary sources and one (1) primary source]. More information on Blackboard. Due Date: Saturday, April 17 by 11:59pm

Final Paper and Conference Presentation: For your final research paper, you will write an 8–10-page paper on a topic of your choice pertaining to Central America. In addition, you will have the opportunity to share your work with your peers in a 5-minute oral presentation. More information on Blackboard.
Conference Presentations on Week 14.

Due Date: Wednesday, May 12 by 11:59pm

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University Spring 2021

What are the course policies?

  1. Online Class Attendance: Attendance will be taken at each class meeting. You have to share your video during our synchronous component to be marked present. However, I will allow three (3) “black screen” days. Absences are strongly discouraged; however, you are allowed two (2) unexcused absence. If you do miss a class, you are responsible for the readings that week as well as reviewing the material you missed. Any unexcused absences beyond the 2 allowed will result in lowering your final participation grade by a one-third of a letter grade (A to A-). Lateness is also not tolerated. I will count three (3) late days as an absence.

  2. LateAssignmentPolicy:Iencourageyoutosubmityourworkontimesothatyoudonotfall behind in class. If you believe you will turn in an assignment late, I advise you to email me as soon as possible. Unless I have granted you an extension ahead of time, your grade will fall by one-third a letter grade (B+ to B) for each day late, including weekend days.

  3. E-mail Correspondence: I welcome you to email me with any questions you might have. I typically get back to emails within two days. If you send an email on the weekend, however, you will most likely receive a response on Monday. If your email requires a more in-depth answer, please see me during student hours.

  4. Student Hours: I encourage teacher-student dialogue both inside and outside the classroom setting. Therefore, my (virtual Zoom) door is always open to talk. If you are struggling or have questions/concerns about anything in this class, please come see me during my student hours or email me to set up a time to meet. If there is more than one student waiting for student hours, each meeting will be no more than 20 minutes. The waiting room will be enabled on Zoom.

  5. ElectronicPolicy:Inordertoreallyengageinclass,wemustbeattentivetoourpeers.Therefore,I expect you to turn off or silence your phone before class begins. I also recommend closing down other browsers that are not being used for class.

  6. Family Friendly and Compassionate Care Policy: We are all more than just students. We are someone’s child, parent, sibling, caretaker, etc. I understand that there are moments where our responsibilities to our loved ones may get in the way of our school responsibilities. As an educator and a human-being, I will always try to accommodate people who have such responsibilities in order to succeed in their educational journey. Therefore, if you need to bring your child or young loved one to class due to unforeseen circumstances, please do so. If you have to leave class early for a family responsibility, please let me know. I trust that we will be honest with each other and help one another in this process of growing in human dignity.

  7. FollowtheHonorCode:YouareexpectedtoupholdthehighestStandardsofAcademicIntegrity. Any work that you claim to be your own must be your own; you must give appropriate credit where credit is due; and you must be fair and honest in all of your interactions with other members of the Fordham University community.

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University Spring 2021

Where can I get more support?

1. Accessibility Services: Students who need test or classroom accommodations must be registered in advance with Fordham’s Accommodation Services and have a letter from that office confirming the needed accommodation. For more information visit:

2. WritingTutoring:IencourageyoutouseFordham’sWritingCenteratLincolnCenterforour written assignments. We grow with the help of others. Share you work, be open to constructive criticism and continue to grow as a scholar. Visit for more information.

3. CounselingServices:Inordertobepresentinclass,wemusttakecareofourphysical,mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If you need support, please see Fordham University’s counseling services:

Tentative Schedule

*I reserve the right to modify the reading schedule (add, subtract, swap out readings) or slightly alter assignment due dates (always later, never earlier). Exam dates are fixed and will not be changed.*

Week 1 Introduction/ What is History? Monday, February 1


  • ➢  Overview of syllabus

  • ➢  In-class discussion: Why Central America?

    Wednesday, February 3

    Levins Morales, Aurora. “The Historian as Curandera” JSRI Working Paper #40,

Week 2

Monday, February 8

The Julian Samora Research Institute, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 1997.

The Idea of Central America

Cárdenas, Martiza E. Constituting Central American–Americans: Transnational Identities and

the Politics of Dislocation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2018. Chapter 1-2 (23-76)

Wednesday, February 10


  • ➢  Michel Gobat, Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule

    Chapter 1

  • ➢  In Class: Primary Source Activity

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University

Spring 2021

Week 3

Monday, February 15


Wednesday, February 17

Uncovering Stories: Panama Canal

Week 4

Monday, February 22

Marixa Lasso, Erased: The Untold Story of the Panama Canal, (Cambridge: Harvard University

➢ ➢

Press, 2019), Introduction
---, “A Canal without a Zone: Conflicting Representations of the Panama Canal,”
Journal of Latin American Geography, 14.3 (October 2015):157-174
---, “From Citizens to ‘Natives’: Tropical Politics of Depopulation at the Panama Canal Zone,”
Environmental History 21(April 2016):240-249

La Matanza (1932 El Salvador)


  • ➢  Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, Rafael Lara Martínez, and Erik K. Ching, Remembering a Massacre in

    El Salvador: The Insurrection of 1932, Roque Dalton, and the Politics of Historical Memory.

    (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007), Chapter 1

  • ➢  Watch: Jeffrey Gould and Carlos Henriquez Consalvi, “Cicatriz de la Memoria/Scars of


    Wednesday, February 24

    Jorge E. Cuéllar, “Elimination/Deracination: Colonial Terror, La Matanza, and the 1930s

    Race Laws in El Salvador” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 42:2 (2018): 39-56.

    Week 5 Banana Wars Monday, March 1


Darío A. Euraque, “The Threat of Blackness to the Mestizo Nation: Race Ethnicity in the

Honduran Banana Economy, 1920s and 1930s” in Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas, Emily S Rosenberg, Gilbert M. Joseph, and Steve Striffler. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Wednesday, March 3

Cindy Forster, “‘The Macondo of Guatemala’: Banana Workers and National Revolution

in Tiquisate, 1944-1954,” in Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas, Emily S Rosenberg, Gilbert M. Joseph, and Steve Striffler. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University

Spring 2021

Week 6

Monday, March 8


Wednesday, March 10


Historical Op-Ed Paper Due: Sunday, March 14 by 11:59

Week 7 Guatemala’s Long Armed Conflict Monday, March 15

Sarah Foss, “Community Development in Cold War Guatemala: Not a Revolution but an

Evolution,” in Latin America and the Global Cold War. Edited by Thomas C. Field Jr, Stella Krepp, and Vanni Pettina. (Greensboro: University of North Carolina Press, 2020).

Wednesday, March 17


➢ ➢

Week 8

Monday, March 22

VirginiaGarrard-Burnett,TerrorintheLandoftheHolySpirit:GuatemalaUnderGeneralEfrain Rios Montt, 1982-1983, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), Chapter 3
Watch: Pamela Yates, “When the Mountains Tremble,” 1983.

Nicaraguan Revolution


  • ➢  Karen Kampwirth, Women and Guerilla Movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba,

    (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), Chapter 1.

  • ➢  Margaret Randall, Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle, (New

    Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995), Chapter 3

    Wednesday, March 24


Week 9

➢ ➢

Salvadoran Civil War
Jenny Pearce, “Peasants and Power” in Promised Land: Peasant Rebellion in

Chalatenango, El Salvador (London: Latin American Bureau, 1986) 241-286.

Werner Herzog, Denis Reiche, “Ballad of the Little Soldier,” 1984
Charles R. Hale, “Miskitu: Revolution in the Revolution,”
NACLA: Report on the Americas, 25, no.3 (1991): 24-26:

Monday, March 29


HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University

Spring 2021

Wednesday, March 31

Watch: “Maria’s Story” (1987)

Week 10 Proposal Meetings Monday, April 5


No Class. Individual meetings over research proposal Wednesday, April 7

No Class. Individual meetings over research proposal

Week 11 Thesis Workshop and the Honduran Coup Monday, April 12

One article of your choice for your final paper In class Activity: Research Thesis Workshop

• Be prepared to engage with your research topic Begin reading Tell Me How I Ends

Wednesday, April 14


➢ ➢

Week 12

Monday, April 19

Diana Carolina Sierra Becerra, “For Our Total Emancipation: The Making of

Revolutionary Feminism in Insurgent El Salvador, 1977-1987” in Making the Revolution:

Histories of the Latin American Left. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 266-293.

Final Research Proposal with Annotated Bibliography Due: Saturday, April 3rd by


Dana Frank, “Vocabulary Lessons: Basta ya que el Yanqui Mande,” The Baffler, No. 23 (2013):114-119
Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda, “The Coup that Awoke a People’s Resistance,”
NACLA Report on the Americas (2010). resistance

Recent History


HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Fordham University Spring 2021

Wednesday, April 21


➢ ➢

Week 13

Scherly Virgill Artiaga, “The Garífuna Voices of Guatemala’s Armed Conflict” NACLA Report on the Americas, 52:4, 422-429.
Continue reading
Tell Me How I Ends

Central American Recent Immigration

Monday, April 26


  • ➢  Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, (Minneapolis: Coffee House

    Press, 2017).

  • ➢  María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, “The Violence of Citizenship in the Making of Refugees:

    The United States and Central America,” Social Text, 37, no. 4 (2019): 1-21.

  • ➢  Optional: Eternos Indocumentados

    Wednesday, April 28

    No readings. Panel Presentation. Come to class prepared to explain your research paper in

    5 minutes.

    Week 14 Panel Presentations Monday, May 3

    No readings. Come to class prepared to explain your research paper in 5 minutes.

    Wednesday, May 5

    No readings. Come to class prepared to explain your research paper in 5 minutes.

Final Research Papers Due Wednesday, May 12


HIST 3967: Modern Central America


Categories: Syllabus
Keywords: syllabus