Plantation to Plate: Sugar, Bananas, and Coffee in the Americas

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HONR1000: Plantation to Plate: Sugar, Bananas, and Coffee in the Americas Professor Sarah Foss || Murray Hall 103 || safoss@okstate.edu

Course Description
Sugar, bananas, and coffee are predominant staples in our diet. But do we think about where these commodities came from? Do we think about the people who grew and harvested them, what their lives are like, how their landscapes have been changed by this production? Did you know that the CIA and foreign mercenaries have intervened on behalf of these industries? Inexpensive and abundant, and seemingly harmless, these three tropical commodities have drastically shaped the producing societies, and they have created huge industries and food cultures in the consuming countries. Our focus will be on the U.S. and Latin America, and we’ll tackle topics such as fair trade, environmental issues, slavery, migration, marketing and culture, foreign policy, and capitalism. Our sources include declassified CIA documents, 1920s advertisements, historical photographs, firsthand narratives, recent investigative journalism and court cases, and documentary film. By the end of the semester, you will be more knowledgeable about historical and present-day Latin America, the ways that commodities and the history of their exchanges shape our lives and eating habits in the present, and how you can make more informed consumption decisions.

Course Objectives
By the end of the semester, you will:

  • understand different commodity chains and the impact that the exchange of these commodities has upon both the producing and consuming societies, particularly as it relates to oppression, political ideology, globalization, and migration.

  • comprehend the linkages in the history of these commodities to social and political changes in Latin America and the United States and explain how these shape present-day situations in Latin America.

  • Understand how ideas, events, arts, or text shape diverse individual identities and historic and contemporary cultures.

  • Analyze different Latin American populations and their political, economic, ideological, and cultural systems and structures.

  • identify the primary argument and methodology in secondary sources.

  • Construct analytical, thoughtful questions appropriate for class discussion.

  • integrate evidence from the readings to formulate an informed and supported argument orally

    and in writing.

    Required Readings
    You are expected to thoughtfully read and take notes prior to class time. You do not need to purchase any books for this course. All readings are available on Canvas unless otherwise noted in the syllabus.

Assignments

Course Rubric

Assignment

Point Value

Percentage of Final Grade

Reading Essays (3 Total)

300 (100 pts. each)

30%

Final Project

200

20%

Newspaper Assignment

150

15%

Discussion Leading

50

5%

Map Quiz

50

5%

Attendance and Participation

250

25%

TOTAL

1000

100%

Final Grade Breakdown (by percentage). I do not round. A = 90-100 D = 60-69
B = 80-89 F = 59 or lower
C = 70-79

1. Reading Essays (minimum number of written pages – 12): Each week you will complete a reading essay based on the materials that you prepared for class. Each essay should be 1-2 pages, and you will turn in your essays at the end of each unit (end of Week 6, Week 10, Week 14). Thus, the first unit essay will consist of your essays from weeks 3-6, the second unit essay will consist of essays from weeks 7-10, and the third unit essay will consist of essays from weeks 11-14. The prompts for each essay can be found in the modules section of our Canvas site as well as in the reading schedule (see appendix with these prompts).

The purposes of these short reading essays are to help you to engage with the readings and in-class materials, learn higher levels of thinking, and help you to develop your skills as a writer. Some of the first essays ask you to explain course concepts; by the end of the semester, you will gradually learn the analytical skills necessary to make your own arguments and support them with evidence. Similarly, early essays will ask you to work on organizing your thoughts into clear paragraphs. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss how to write clear topic and concluding sentences, brief introductions and conclusions, and clear thesis statements. I will provide you with individualized feedback on each essay so that you can work to improve your analytical and writing skills throughout the semester.

Learning to read and interpret primary and secondary sources is the central goal of this course, and it is the foundation of critical and analytical thinking.
As we discuss readings in class, we will work through this process together so that you will learn how to read critically, how to identify and understand the key argument, and how to ask informed questions.

Each unit essay is worth 100 points and will be graded on the following rubric:

Description

Points

Letter Grade

Fully addresses all prompts, essay contains analysis and incorporates other course readings and discussions. Well written, no grammatical errors.

90-100

A

Essays addresses the majority of the prompts, makes an attempt at analysis, well written, a few minor errors

80-89

B

Essays do not fully address prompts, little analysis, does not connect the source to larger themes of the class, writing lacks sophistication, is rushed and has errors

70-79

C

Essays do not address prompts, no attempt at analysis, presentation is unorganized

60-69

D

Essays make no effort to address the prompst, short, disorganized, and incoherent.

50-59

F

2. Cumulative Final Project, due DURING THE FINAL EXAM TIME SLOT: In groups of 4-5, you will choose another consumable commodity that is produced in Latin America and exported to the United States. Options include but are not limited to: quinoa, avocados, tequila, corn, beef, Your group will create an 8- 10 minute podcast, news report, radio interview or other type of creative presentation that will discuss the commodity chain surrounding your product. Groups will briefly introduce their commodity and present their multimedia project to the class on the day of the final exam. See the appendix after the Course Schedule for more information and guidance and the rubric. You will have some time in class to work on this project, but you should plan on meeting a few times outside of class with your group.

3. Newspaper assignment (total minimum written pages – 5): The goals of this assignment are to help you become acquainted with current events in Latin America, read critically, and write succinct but analytical reflections on different reports on the region. This assignment is intentionally open-ended to allow you to read on topics that interest you, but in some way your chosen articles need to relate to food and/or food commodities, agriculture, economic relations, or the environment.

To do this, you need to read or listen to eight different articles or podcasts over the course of the semester and write a one-paragraph reflection on each one. At least 3 of your articles/podcasts need to be feature length pieces. All feature length pieces must have been written in the last ten years, and news articles need to be written in the last three years. I define feature length as a news report based on more long-term reporting that is published as a longer piece vs. a newspaper article that reports on breaking, or recent news. I include podcasts under the category of “feature length piece.” However, this distinction is not always clear, so if you have a question about whether a piece you’d like to read and write about qualifies for this assignment, please send me a link or citation for the piece, and I will promptly make that determination (safoss@okstate.edu). In the first week of class, I will provide you with a list of publications or sites from which you may find articles of interest to you. This list is not exhaustive, but you should ensure that your source is reputable, meaning that it passes through an editorial board before publication and is written by someone qualified to report on the region. If you have questions about whether or not your article will qualify as a reputable source, please send me a link or citation, and I will promptly make that determination.

Each entry should include a complete citation (author, article name, publication, publication date, inclusive page numbers, if applicable, URL, if applicable). Your paragraph reflect should be between 1⁄2-1 page (double-spaced, 12 pt font Times New Roman or equivalent, 1” margins). You should be mindful of writing a well-organized paragraph, with a clear topic sentence, examples from the story, and a concluding sentence. In your response, please address the following:

  • Give a brief (1-2 sentence) summary of what the article was about.

  • Think about bias and perspective; whose voices were represented in the article? Whose

    perspectives and opinions were relegated to the background?

  • What is one thing you learned? What do you want to learn more about after reading this

    article?

    The final piece of this assignment is a short, one-page reflection on the assignment as a whole. After completing your reading, please write a 1-2 paragraphs that explores how this course helped you to better understand the historical context of some of the articles that you read. In other words, what connections across time were you able to draw? Being mindful not to ignore human agency, how does the past influence the present? In this final reflection, you do not need to reflect on all of your articles, but you should provide specific examples from what you did read.

    Due Week 15 via Canvas submission.

    4. Discussion Leading: In order to facilitate student-led discussion, each student with work with a partner (or group of 3, depending on class size) to lead a class discussion on one of the designated discussion days. These students will be responsible with coming up with thought-provoking questions that touch on the central theme for the week, the main points in the materials, and the overall course theme. Discussion leaders need to submit their questions to me at least 48 hours before their scheduled presentation. I am happy to meet with discussion leaders in office hours to help them to prepare their discussion. There is no set time limit for the discussion, but it should take approximately 20 minutes of class time. During the second week of class, students will select which period they would like to lead, and these will take place throughout the course of the semester. See the Course Schedule for dates. You will be evaluated on your preparedness, the timeliness of your submission of questions, and your ability to design questions that provoke discussion.

    4. Map Quiz: On FIRST CLASS OF WEEK 3, you will be given a quiz that asks you to identify several countries in the Western Hemisphere. We will focus on Canada, the United States, and countries that are considered part of Latin America, as it is these places we will be discussing in this course. It is important to understand the geography of the region of the world that we are studying. I will provide a map in the first week of class, and you will be expected to both know the name of the country and its location on the map.

    5. Attendance and Participation: Attendance is mandatory. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences, so there is no need to let me know if you are missing class. You are allotted 3 absences without penalty; any subsequent absences will affect your final participation grade, with the exception of University excused absences (athletics, University-sanctioned extra-curriculars, religious observances). It is your responsibility to provide me with the proper documentation of any University- sanctioned absences and make arrangements to turn in work/obtain notes from class. Please come talk with me about any extenuating circumstances that will affect your regular attendance. Students with three or fewer absences will receive 100 attendance points; subsequent absences will reduce this score by 10 points each. Ex. A student with 5 absences would receive 80 attendance points.

Students can also earn up to 150 participation points. In the Course Schedule portion of the syllabus, the readings assigned for each day are listed, and you need to read these prior to class. I have also posed critical reading questions for you to keep in mind each week. You do not need to write responses to these, but these will serve as a starting point for our class discussions and can help you to guide your reading and preparation.

At times we will have short participation activities in class that are your opportunity to demonstrate your preparedness. While these won’t be individually graded for points, they will calculate into your final participation grade. This is also my opportunity to indicate to you if your participation is unsatisfactory.

A rubric will be distributed in Week 1 (see appendix), and it will be used to assess your participation. You will receive a midterm check-in and final participation grade. The midterm check-in will show you your current participation grade. You can then make the necessary adjustments to raise your participation grade for the final grade. Participation in full class discussions and small group work will calculate into your participation grade. Participation grades are awarded on an A, B, C, D, and F basis, and the following point distribution will be used:

A=150 B=125 C=110 D=95 F=80

6. Extra Credit Opportunities: This course offers extra credit throughout the semester through attending guest lectures occurring across campus that pertain broadly to one of our course’s many themes. You can receive extra credit for attending a talk and writing a one-page reflection paper within one week of the event and earn up to ten extra credit points. You may repeat this assignment three times for a possible total of 30 points.

Course Policies

Expectations: You are expected to come to class alert and prepared to discuss the assigned readings. You will need to bring the readings with them to every class, as we will be using these for participation and in- class assessments.
Late assignment policy, make-ups: With the exception of University excused absences (it is the student’s responsibility to provide the necessary documentation), late assignments will be accepted, with a grade reduction of 10% per day late. There are two exceptions where late work will not be accepted: the map quiz must be taken on its scheduled date unless pre-arranged with the professor, and the final group presentation must take place during the final exam period. You will submit reading essays and your paper through Turnitin on Canvas. Please see me in the case of extenuating circumstances.

Laptop, Tablet, Cell phone policy: You need to take notes by hand. There may be times where I permit students to use electronic devices to reference the readings, but otherwise, they need to be put away. This course will also have a strict no cell phone policy.
Contacting me: Please refer to me as Professor or Dr. Foss. Email is the best way to reach me. I will respond within 24 hours to your email on weekdays, 48 on weekends. I do not check email after 9pm, so please plan accordingly. I encourage you to make use of office hours. You can also email to set up an alternative time to meet, but please, no drop ins.

Academic Accommodations: Students needing an accommodation must work through the Office of Student Disabilities Services to receive proper documentation. I will then meet with you to make the appropriate accommodation for this course. Accommodations can only be made for coursework after the student has been evaluated by OSDS.

Conduct and Academic Integrity: The classroom is an academically productive and safe environment for students to express their opinions and ask questions. History is controversial, and sensitive themes will be discussed in this class. Students are expected to treat their classmates with respect and maturity, and any behavior that inhibits productive academic engagement will not be permitted.

Oklahoma State University's defines plagiarism as the following: Presenting the written, published or creative work of another as the student’s own work. Whenever the student uses wording, arguments, data, design, etc., belonging to someone else in a paper, report, oral presentation, or other assignment, the student must make this fact explicitly clear by correctly citing the appropriate references or sources. The student must fully indicate the extent to which any part or parts of the project are attributed to others. The student must also provide citations for paraphrased materials. The following are examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying another student’s assignment, computer program or examination with or without permission from the author.

  • Copying another student’s computer program and changing only minor items such as logic, variable names, or labels.

  • Copying or paraphrasing material from an Internet or written source without proper citation.

  • Copying words and then changing them a little, even if the student gives the source.

  • Verbatim copying without using quotation marks, even if the source is cited.

  • Expressing in the student’s own words someone else’s ideas without giving proper credit.

  • Turning in a paper obtained in part or in full from a "term papermill."
    In addition, Oklahoma State defines the following as violations of academic integrity:

  • Multiple Submissions: Submitting substantial portions of the same academic work for credit to more than one class (or to the same class if the student repeats a course) without permission of the instructors.

  • Fabricating Information: Making up references for a bibliography, falsifying laboratory or research data (for example, tampering with experimental data to obtain “desired” results or creating results for experiments that were not done), or using a false excuse for an absence or an extension on a due date.

    (https://academicintegrity.okstate.edu/content/violations-academic-integrity-0 )
    Please ask me if you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism and know that it will not be tolerated in this classroom.

Course Introduction: Commodity Studies & US-Latin American Relations

Week 1: Course Introduction, Commodity Studies, and Development Critical Reading Questions:

  • What can studying trade of a certain commodity tell us about the relations between a producing society and a consuming society?

  • Why does studying trade relations between Central America/Caribbean and the United States inform our understanding of diplomatic relations between these regions?

  • How do each of these readings define underdevelopment? How have scholars studied and understood development? How does this differ from popular conceptions of underdevelopment?

  • What is modernization? How does it shape the way that the US interacted with the world? Readings: excerpts from Alyshia Gálvez, Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico (part of Introduction, part of “Laying the Groundwork for NAFTA”
    Eduardo Galeano,
    The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, “Introduction” pp. 1-8
    In-class reading of a poem by José Martí and Enrique Rodó

    Week 2: Looking South: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America, 1898-2019 Critical Reading Questions:

    What are some key moments in 19th and 20th Century U.S.–Latin American relations? What policies and events do you deem most important?

  • How would you classify the relationship between the United States and Latin America in general?

  • How has economic development played a role in U.S. foreign policy?
    Discussion Day this week

    Readings: Thomas F. O’Brien, Making the Americas: The United States and Latin America from the Age of Revolutions to the Era of Globalization. “Introduction” (p. 1-13); “The Civilizing Empire, 1899-1917” (p. 75-95)
    *In class work with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” speech, excerpt from a Che Guevara Speech, political cartoons from John Johnson’s Latin America in Caricature

    UNIT 1: SUGAR

    Week 3: Sugar Plantations and Slavery then, Agro-Export Economies today Critical Reading Questions

  • Are photographs useful historical sources? What can we learn from photographs that we cannot learn from written sources?

  • What were labor conditions like on sugar plantation?

  • How is sugar produced, and how is this related to the geography of the plantation?

  • If slaves outnumbered overseers and plantations owners so drastically, then why didn’t they

    successfully revolt more often?

  • How did race factor into the structure of the plantation?

    Readings/Materials: Stuart, Sugar in the Blood, excerpts from Part 1, “The Planter” Assignment: Reading Essay #1 Week 3

    Week 4: “This sweet madness”: Marketing, Politics, and Sugar in the US Sugar Lobby

Critical Reading Questions

How does the author of the written source influence the perspective from which it is written? How is bias seen in the readings for this week? How do you, as a critical reader, consider bias?

  • What types of information do both of these articles emphasize? In other words, what types of evidence do they use to construct their argument? Perhaps just as importantly, what kind of information is left out of their arguments?

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each article? Which one do you find more convincing?

  • Putting both articles together in the same conversation, how do they help us to understand the

    consumer society of sugar? How do they reflect social and cultural debates of our times?

  • Are ethical considerations a part of these arguments? Should they be?

    Discussion Day this week
    Readings: Felicity Lawrence, “We must end this sweet madness of sugar consumption,” The Guardian January 9, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/09/end-excess-sugar-consumption
    Sugar Association, “Sugar’s Functional Roles in Cooking & Food Preparation”
    Assignment: Reading Essay #1 Week 4

    Week 5: Present-Day Uses and Abuses of Sugar Critical Viewing Questions

listen to the following NPR news segment: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6534158 Assignment: Reading Essay #1 Week 5

Week 6: The Moral Price of Sugar: 21st Century Challenges Critical Viewing Questions

  • How do labor conditions on sugar plantations in the 18th and 19th century, namely slavery, compare with more modern forms of slavery that exist today, as seen in this film?

  • Do we, as consumers, have a duty to respond to these conditions? How?

  • What is the moral price of sugar?

  • How are sugar producing countries impacted by our sugar consumption? Is this relationship

    beneficial? How can it be improved?

    In class viewing and discussion of The Sugar Babies: Growing Up in the Cane Fields
    Reading: “Nicaraguans demand action over illness killing thousands of sugar cane workers” February 16, 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/-sp-nicaragua-kidney-disease-killing-sugar-cane- workers
    Assignment: Reading Essay #1 Week 6

    UNIT 2: BANANAS

    Week 7: Banana Men and the Banana Republics Critical Reading Questions

  • How have foreign entrepreneurs been involved in foreign politics in Central America?

  • How do business interests collide with political interests?

  • The reading emphasizes these types of political relations from the late 19th/early 20th century. Do

    you think that this type of intervention still happens today? Can you think of any examples?

  • Is this a natural part of a free, global market?

    Discussion Day this week
    Readings: Lester D. Langley, Thomas D. Schoonover, The Banana Men: American Mercenaries and Entrepreneurs in Central America, 1880-1930. University Press of Kentucky, 1995, “The World of the Banana Men” (p. 6-32)
    James W. Martin,
    Banana Cowboys: The United Fruit Company and the Culture of Corporate Colonialism, “Becoming Banana Cowboys,” (pg. 125-150)
    Listen to:
    https://www.npr.org/2020/01/07/794302086/there-will-be- bananas?fbclid=IwAR21mBfCxlyirk57llkDgpn3PK6eM5ZxVI1aC_-Qdza9nDPT3so9V5f26Fw Assignment: READING ESSAY #1 DUE AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS ON MONDAY
    Begin Reading Essay #2 Week 7

    Week 8: Bananas – Politics – 1954 Guatemala as a case study Critical Reading Questions

  • Why did the United Fruit Company intervene in Guatemala in 1954? Did the evidence convince you? What were both the U.S. and the Guatemalan perspective of this intervention at the time that it happened?

  • Was this intervention moral? Is this an acceptable form of U.S. foreign policy?

  • How does this intervention in 1954 relate to mercenary action from the late 19th Century?

  • Why didn’t more U.S. citizens react negatively to this coup that overthrew a democratically

    elected government in Guatemala? How did propaganda play a role in fostering U.S. support?

Discussion Day this week
Readings (1): (M) Read the following excerpts from The Guatemala Reader first: “Ten Years of Spring and Beyond,” (197-200), “Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution,” (217-220), “Operation PBSUCCESS,” 230- 237, “Denied in Full” (256-261).
Assignment: paragraph description of final creative project due (time in class for groups to do this); Reading Essay #2, Week 8

Week 9: Bananas: Disease and Environmental Impact in the Present Critical Reading Questions:

  • Should banana companies be more concerned about the environmental impact that this production has upon the earth?

  • How are workers impacted by banana production, particularly relating to their health and well- being?

  • On the one hand, banana plantations provide many jobs to the producing nation, but at what cost? Is it worth it?

  • How do we, as consumers, react to this knowledge?
    Discussion Day this week

    Readings: John Soluri, “People, Plants, and Pathogens: The Eco-social Dynamics of Export Banana Production in Honduras, 1875-1950,” Hispanic American Historical Review (2000): 463-501.
    Listen to: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/takeaway/segments/worlds-banana-supply-being- threatened-disease
    Assignment: Reading Essay #2 Week 9

    Week 10: Life and Labor on a Banana Plantation in the 21st Century
    Reading: Liz Alderman, “Sterilized Workers Seek to Collect Damages Against Dow Chemical in France,” The New York Times, Sept. 19, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/business/energy-environment/dow-chemical-pesticide-banana- workers.html
    in-class viewing of excerpts from Bananas! (about Nicaraguan banana plantation workers suing Dole) Class time to work on project – one day this week
    Assignment: Reading Essay #2 Week 10

    UNIT 3: COFFEE

    Week 11: Coffee: What’s the Buzz? Critical Reading Questions:

  • How has coffee transformed our world? How has coffee production changed producing countries, and how has it changed the major consumingcountries?

  • What’s the point of fair trade coffee? What are the goals of this type of exchange, compared to free trade?

  • What is a commodity chain? What does the coffee commodity chain look like? Discussion Day this week
    Readings: Casey Marina Lurtz, From the Grounds Up: Building an Export Economy in Southern Mexico (2019), “The Landscape of Production,” (87-116).
    Assignment: Turn in Reading Essay #2; Reading Essay #3, Week 11

    Week 12: Coffee: A Case Study of Labor from Guatemala

Critical Reading Questions

  • What are working conditions like on large coffee plantations in Guatemala?

  • How do the images from Wagner’s book and Menchú’s life history shape your

    understanding of labor conditions?

  • Was coffee labor coerced? Why or why not?

  • If coffee plantations paid workers so poorly and treated them so badly, then why

    did/do Guatemalan peasants continue to work there?

  • What does debt peonage mean? What did the vagrancy law in Guatemala entail? How

    is this similar to and different from slavery?
    Readings: Rigoberta Menchú and Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, “First visit to the finca, life in the finca,” “An eight-year-old agricultural worker,”

    Assignment: Reading Essay #3, Week 12
    Annotated bibliography due – 1 submission per group via Canvas

    Week 13: Coffee – The Fair Trade Debate and Ethical Consumption Today Critical Reading Questions

  • When did fair trade become an alternative to free trade? How did the coffee crisis influence this?

  • What is the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO)?

  • How does the FLO ensure that fair trade coffee is indeed traded fairly?

  • Is fair trade concerned with environmental issues? Should it be?

  • Has fair trade made an impact? Do you think it is a viable alternative to free trade? Is

    it sustainable? Discussion Day this week

    Reading: Jaffee, “A Sustainable Cup? Fair Trade, Shade-Grown Coffee, and Organic Production,” Brewing Justice, pp. 133-164.
    Assignment: Reading Essay #3, Week 13

    Week 14: Coffee House Culture & the Rise of the Direct Trade Movement in the 21st Century Critical Reading Questions

  • How informed are coffee consumers about the ethical issues regarding the production and trade in coffee?

  • How has America’s demand for coffee changed during the 20th Century? Reading: Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds, “The Specialty Revolution”, “The Starbucks Experience” (pg. 307-344); in-class viewing of the documentary film Caffeinated Assignment: Reading Essay #3, Week 14

    Week 15: Wrap up and Group Project Work Time
    Reading: none
    Wednesday + Friday are in class Group Project Work Time

    Assignment: Reading Essay #3 due on Monday; Newspaper journal due on Friday.

    Final projects will be presented during our final exam slot, which is WEDNESDAY, May 8th from 10-11:50am

Plantation to Plate News Journal Assignment

The goals of this assignment are to help you become acquainted with current events in Latin America, read critically, and write succinct but analytical reflections on different reports on the region. This assignment is intentionally open-ended to allow you to read on topics that interest you, but in some way your chosen articles need to relate to food and/or food commodities, agriculture, economic relations, or the environment.

To do this, you need to read or listen to eight different articles or podcasts over the course of the semester and write a one-paragraph reflection on each one. At least 3 of your articles/podcasts need to be feature length pieces. All feature length pieces must have been written in the last ten years, and news articles need to be written in the last three years. I define feature length as a news report based on more long-term reporting that is published as a longer piece vs. a newspaper article that reports on breaking, or recent news. I include podcasts under the category of “feature length piece.” However, this distinction is not always clear, so if you have a question about whether a piece you’d like to read and write about qualifies for this assignment, please send me a link or citation for the piece, and I will promptly make that determination (safoss@okstate.edu). On the second page, I’ve provided a list of publications or sites from which you may find articles of interest to you. This list is not exhaustive, but you should ensure that your source is reputable, meaning that it passes through an editorial board before publication and is written by someone qualified to report on the region. If you have questions about whether or not your article will qualify as a reputable source, please send me a link or citation, and I will promptly make that determination.

Reflection Paragraph Logistics
Each reflection should include a complete citation (author, article name, publication, publication date, inclusive page numbers, if applicable, URL, if applicable). Your paragraph reflect should not exceed 1 page (double-spaced, 12 pt font Times New Roman or equivalent, 1” margins). You should be mindful of writing a well-organized paragraph, with a clear topic sentence, examples from the story, and a concluding sentence. In your response, please address the following:

  • Give a brief (1-2 sentence) summary of what the article was about.

  • Think about bias and perspective; whose voices were represented in the article? Whose

    perspectives and opinions were relegated to the background?

  • What is one thing you learned? What do you want to learn more about after reading this article?

    Quoting & Citations: You should not directly quote the articles but rather should write your reflection completely in your own words. Understandably, you will paraphrase and incorporate information from the source. You do not need to provide in-text citations as you will provide the complete citation at the top of the entry.

    Assignment Reflection Page
    The final piece of this assignment is a short, one-page reflection on the assignment as a whole. After completing your reading, please write 1-2 paragraphs that explores how this course helped you to better understand the historical context of some of the articles that you read. In other words, what connections across time were you able to draw? Being mindful not to ignore human agency, how does the past influence the present? In this final reflection, you do not need to reflect on all of your articles, but you should provide specific examples from what you did read.

    Due Week 15 via Canvas submission. 150 points

List of Useful News Outlets and Resources

The Latin American News Dispatch provides a daily summary of news from the region, curating articles from various publications from Latin America and the United States. You can sign up to receive this daily email or visit their website for additional resources: https://latindispatch.com

  • Radioland podcast

  • Dispatches

  • News briefs

  • Photo essays

  • Subscribe to Newsletter by clicking on “Newsletter” in the left hand column (you can also view the daily news here without subscribing)

    Harper’s Magazine: harpers.org – you can search by keyword
    The New Yorker:
    www.newyorker.com – you can search by keyword

    North American Congress on Latin America: https://nacla.org/ (also has a newsletter you can subscribe to), Podcasts, feature-length stories, regular columns

    NACLA’s Magazine, Report on the Americas is available via Edmon Low Library. Log in and from the main Search bar, type in “NACLA report on the Americas” – it is your first result (Journal w/ online access)

    Major National Newspapers:

  • The Washington Post

  • The New York Times (Edmon Low Library has a subscription)

  • The Boston Globe

  • The LA Times

  • Chicago Tribune

  • Miami Herald

    (again, just a few examples – there are plenty more than this!) The Associated Press: https://apnews.com/

    International, English-Language News Sources
    The Guardian
    BBC World News Latin America page:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world/latin_america

    International, Spanish-Language News Sources:
    http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/news/ - this website lists major news outlets by country, with links to their respective webpages.

Plantation to Plate: Reading Essay Questions

Reading Essays Unit #1: Sugar

Week 3: In your response this week, use the sources that we have read and discussed to answer each of the following questions in a clear paragraph. Write strong topic and concluding sentences, as we have discussed in class. First, what was life like for a slave on a sugar plantation? Second, how did the plantation operate as an agro-industry? Third, how did plantation owners maintain control over their enslaved workforce? Finally, although the institution of slavery ended in the 19th century, how does its legacy continue to shape agro-export societies today? Use 1-2 specific examples that you cite from the readings in each paragraph.

Week 4: Explain how the sugar lobby in Washington D.C. impacts sugar consumption in the United States. Write a brief introduction that states your argument and follow this with 2 paragraphs that support your position with evidence from this week's materials. Finally, write a brief conclusion that reiterates your main claim.

Week 5: Choose either the case of Mexican soda consumption or Brazilian ethanol, and using the course materials, write a response that addresses some of the positives and negatives associated with the state policies for each social problem

Week 6: Today in the Dominican Republic, what is the moral price of sugar? How does sugar production affect relations between the DR and Haiti, racial discrimination, and migration?

Reading Essays Unit #2: Bananas

Week 7: Using clear and concise paragraphs with specific examples from the readings, explain how U.S. foreign policy and the banana business supported one another in Latin America in the late 19th/early 20th century. What present-day parallels can you think of?

Week 8: Why did the United Fruit Company intervene in Guatemala in 1954? What were both the U.S. and the Guatemalan perspectives of this intervention at the time that it happened? How does this event affect present-day popular interpretations of the United States in Guatemala?

Week 9: Using evidence from the readings this week, how can we think about the environment as a historical actor? Give one example from the readings.

Week 10: Reflect on one present-day consequence of banana production and how that impacts the lives of banana cultivators in Latin America. Bring in three specific examples from course material that support your main point.

Reading Essays Unit #3: Coffee

Week 11: What factors facilitated the rise of an export economy based on coffee in southern Mexico, according to Lurtz?

Week 12: Using Guatemala as your case study, answer the following question: Was coffee labor on Guatemalan coffee plantations coerced? Why or why not?

Week 13: Is fair trade a viable alternative to free trade coffee? Why or why not? State your

position clearly, then use 3-4 examples from the readings to support your argument. Include a brief conclusion that reiterates your position.

Week 14: How have the course materials and discussions about free trade, fair trade, and direct trade affected either your own personal thoughts about coffee consumption or the way you view the coffee industry? What, if any, are the ethical responsibilities of the consumer, in your opinion?

Group Commodity Creative Project

Due May 8th during final exam period (10-11:50am) 200 Points

Commodity choices: quinoa, mezcal, avocados, wine, seafood, beef, wheat, corn

In groups of 2-4, you will make a creative project and will present it during our final exam slot. The presentation should last between 10-15 minutes, including presentation of the project.

Your presentation can take a variety of formats, including, but not limited to, a podcast, a photojournalism story, a news segment, or a documentary film.

Your presentation should address the following required components:

  • Provide a brief historical context for the production of your commodity. Depending

    on your commodity, you may want to focus on a specific geographic locale or you might adopt a regional approach. Either is fine; just be clear from the outset of the project what choice you made.

  • Discuss who some of the producers of this commodity are and what their labor conditions are like.

  • Talk about the consumption of this commodity – who are the consumers, what historical and contemporary issues surround the consumption of the commodity?

  • Discuss at least one recent (last 50 years) debate that surrounds either the production or the consumption of this commodity. In this discussion, address the question of how we, as consumers, can use history to make informed and ethical decisions regarding our consumption practices.

  • Use primary and secondary sources in your presentation

    This assignment has several smaller components, which need to be turned in prior to the final presentation.

  1. March 1st – Each group will turn in a brief description of the format that their final project will take.

  2. April 12th – each group will turn in the Annotated Bibliography assignment.

  3. May 8th – Final presentations – each group member needs to participate

  4. May 8th– Each group member will turn in peer evaluations for each of their team

    members.

The following class periods will be dedicated to time to work on your projects:

  • March 27th – We will meet at Edmon Low Library for a research methods workshop

    with librarian Clarke Iakovakis – ROOM 206

  • March 29th – time in class to gather materials & work on annotated bibliography

  • May 1st & 3rd – in class time to work on projects

    (class will meet on these days and attendance will be taken)

Group Commodity Creative Project Rubric (200 points total)

 

A

B

C

D

F

Paragraph (5)

Completed

   

Not completed

Annotated Bibliography (20)

Bibliography contains at least 10 sources of various types, every entry has clear summaries and discusses use of the source; citations correct

Bibliography contains at least 10 sources of various types, the large majority of entries have clear summaries and discusses use of the source; citations largely correct

Bibliography contains at least 10 sources of various types, some entries could be improved; several errors with citations

Bibliography does not have required number of sources nor does it follow required types, half of the entries are short and unclear; several errors with citations

Bibliography does not meet assignment requirements, is rushed, full of citation errors

Content (75)

Presentation has all the required components, accurate information; utilizes a variety of sources and perspectives; subject matter is organized in a cohesive and logical way

Presentation has most of the required components; accurate information; uses a couple of sources, mainly focuses on one perspective; subject matter is fairly well organized

Presentation has some of the required components; some factual error; heavily relies on one source; subject matter not well organized but comprehensible

Presentation misses several of the required components; several errors; uses only one source and one perspective; subject matter is poorly organized and difficult to follow

Presentation fails to discuss required components; several errors; uses only one source and one perspective; subject matter lacks cohesion and clarity

Presentation (50)

Presentation is exciting and engaging; careful attention to detail; demonstrates careful preparation; all members participate and are actively engaged

Presentation is somewhat engaging; some attention to detail; an effort at careful preparation; all members participate

Presentation does not always engage viewer; hastily prepared; most members participate

Presentation is not engaging; not prepared with much thought; rushed; several members fail to participate

Presentation is not engaging; does not reflect student effort; several members fail to participate

Individual Grade (50)

Did fair share of the work in a thoughtful and timely fashion; communicated well with group members

Did fair share of the work; some communication with group members;

Did not do an adequate share of the work or did sloppy work, not the most communicative

Did not do fair share of work; did not communicate well with team members

Did not do much work at all; no communication

Student Peer Evaluation Sheet: Evaluate your group members. This will remain confidential. 1 (rarely/never) 2 (occasionally/sometimes) 3(all/most of the time)

List each group member below: Name:

Comments:

Name:

Comments:

Name:

Comments:

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did fair share of the work
was cooperative/did agreed-upon tasks
contributed to ideas/planning
was available for communication was positive, helpful
contributed to overall project success

did fair share of the work
was cooperative/did agreed-upon tasks
contributed to ideas/planning
was available for communication was positive, helpful
contributed to overall project success

did fair share of the work
was cooperative/did agreed-upon tasks
contributed to ideas/planning
was available for communication was positive, helpful
contributed to overall project success

Rate your contribution as compared to your group members. Explain your reasoning for your self-evaluation score:

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did fair share of the work
was cooperative/did agreed-upon tasks
contributed to ideas/planning
was available for communication was positive, helpful
contributed to overall project success

Categories: Syllabus
Keywords: syllabus