Dreaming of Home: Gender and the Family, Transnational Migration, and Historical Memory in Latin America


This course takes a critical approach to family history and historical memory, with a focus on women, gender, and transnationalism in Latin America in the late-19th and 20th centuries. Considering questions of voice, authenticity, and “truth,” we will take up the politics of gender in oral history, autobiography, and memoir. We will study the creation of cultural and historical memory at various levels—family, local, regional, national, and transnational. How do these levels of memory intersect in modern Latin American history? How and why do individuals, families, and states invent and reinvent the past? Case studies will help us explore the role of place, identity, and generation in historical memory and how gendered and racialized memory is a crucial part of state formation and control. People who existed on the fringes of nations for their gender, race, color, language, or romantic ties crossed borders and oceans by choice or by force. We will explore the historical memory of diasporic communities that emerged as a result of marginalization across Latin America. In particular, we will address Latin America-Asia connections. We will consider newer manifestations of memory construction and communication through digital media and transnational family associations. Assigned readings include historical monographs and articles, as well as oral and life histories, autobiographies, memoirs, and historical novels.