Social and political history of Iberia and latin America

We firmly believe that you cannot understand the present without a deep appreciation of the past.

plaques in a demo in Latin America

In this module we explore the social and political history of Spain and Latin America and pose questions such as: Is Spain one of the oldest nations in Europe or is its unity precarious and constantly under threat? Why is honour such an important concept for Spanish speakers? Does modern-day racism have its origins in Spain and the persecution of Jews by the Spanish Inquisition? Is the legacy of Spanish colonialism to blame for the uneven development of Latin America and its various social and political upheavals and crises? Or does the responsibility lie more with the British Empire or the political influence of the USA or with Latin American societies themselves?

This module examines the historical trajectory of Spain and Portugal, their emergence as states in the Iberian Peninsula, their imperial expansion overseas into Africa, Latin America and beyond, the eventual independence of the colonies and their development and consolidation into the various modern-day states we know today.

We will explore the social, political, linguistic and cultural characteristics of these states and its peoples and highlight the importance of understanding their complex history in the formation of their identities, their languages and their cultural and political values. The module has a particular emphasis on the importance of myths and how, regarless of their historical veracity, they can condition behaviours, mould identities and shape future history.

Texts’ to be studied

For each semester there will be a single core set-text in English which gives students an overview of the social, political and cultural history of Spain and of Latin America and extracts from other texts written in Spanish. These texts are generally canonical ones which are not only important for the cultural/intellectual/philosophical history of Spain/Latin America but have also contributed to the creation and/or perpetuation of beliefs and myths about the past and the present.


The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad (2017) by Professor Joyce E. Salisbury (core text)

Spanish TextHistoria de España en el siglo XX/Twentieth Century Spain: A History. Julián Casanova

Latin America

Chasteen, John Charles. 2011. Born in Blood and Fire: a Concise History of Latin America. New York : Norton (core text).

Spanish Text: Eduardo Galeano. Las venas abiertas de América Latina- Open Veins of Latin America


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