SPANISH 438 - Political and Economic Thought in Latin America/Spain
Fall 2020, Section 001 - Conquest and Capitalism
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Spanish (SPANISH)
Department: LSA Romance Languages & Literatures


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
Enforced Prerequisites:
Nine credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399; or two RCLANG 324 and six credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Although it often seems like just “the way things are,” capitalism is not some natural order that has existed from the beginning of time. Capitalism has a history, and we can study that history to see when and how it emerged. While Britain’s Industrial Revolution is probably the most familiar reference point, some of the most important economic thinkers, including Adam Smith and Karl Marx, point to the so-called “discovery” (i.e. the conquest and colonization) of the Americas as a key moment in this process. Taking these arguments as its point of departure, this course explores the colonial roots of modern capitalism by examining the writings of Spanish and Portuguese jurists, theologians, and missionaries about the colonial project from the late fifteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries. What new problems and dilemmas did Iberian colonialism raise, and how did early modern writers attempt to rationalize and resolve them? What new political and economic ideas emerged as a result? To what extent did these writers seek to reconcile political domination and economic extraction with their stated spiritual and religious objectives? More broadly, how should we understand the relation between colonialism and capitalism, and what does that analysis mean for our understanding of the world today? Readings will consist for the most part of primary sources from the colonial period, but will also include more recent work by political economists, critics, and historians.

This course counts as literature credit for the Spanish minor.

Class Format:

As a DC (Distance due to COVID) course, all aspects of this course will be fully compatible with remote online learning. This is a discussion-based course, and our biweekly meetings will take place synchronously. Testing for this course will be asynchronous and submitted within a designated time frame.


SPANISH 438 - Political and Economic Thought in Latin America/Spain
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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