Reinterpreting Liberation: Third World Movements and Migrations

Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters

Taught by

Spanish language, Latin American studies
feminist economics
international feminism, Middle East studies, English

For centuries, shouts of liberation have echoed through the streets, from Kolkata, India, to Caracas, Venezuela. Today, new movements are afoot, inviting us to revisit the question, "What does independence mean in the cultural, historical, political, and economic context of the global South?" Third World liberation movements that arose in the aftermath of World War II did so not only as organized resistance to colonial forms of oppression and domination, but also as attempts to reconceptualize an alternative, anti-imperial and anti-racist world view. While gaining some measure of political independence, nations such as India, Egypt, Algeria, Mexico, and Nicaragua found that they remained enmeshed in neocolonial relations of exploitation vis-à-vis the former colonial masters and the emerging U.S. empire. Their post-colonial experience with nation-building bears witness to the actuality that political liberation remains inseparable from economic independence.

Through the disciplinary lenses of literature, cultural studies, political economy, and feminist theory, this program will explore how various ideas of liberation (sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory) have emerged and changed over time, in the contexts of Latin America, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. We will explore religious, national, gender, ethnic, and cultural identities that shape narratives of liberation through the discourses of colonialism, neocolonialism, religious traditions, and other mythic constructions of the past. We will examine how deep structural inequalities have produced the occupation and partitioning of land and migrations, both forced and "chosen."

With emphasis on a variety of texts, we will examine the ways in which authors revisit their histories of European and U.S. colonialism and imperialism, question the ways stories have been written, and seek to tell another story, reinterpreting liberation. In fall, we will explore several historical models of liberation and critique dominant representations of Third World nations. We will focus especially on India's path to independence, the Algerian and Cuban revolutions, Egypt/Arab nationalism, and the Chilean Road to Socialism. In winter, we will move forward chronologically, framing our cases within the current context of neoliberalism. Our case studies will include Iran and Nicaragua in 1979 and afterwards, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, post-nationalist resistance movements in Mexico, opposition to U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the recent Arab uprisings, and issues of ecology and resource sovereignty affecting the three regions. We will look at feminist involvement in these contexts, as well as the role of U.S. foreign and economic policy in suppressing liberatory movements.

In spring quarter, we will focus on migration as a legacy of colonial relations, neoliberal globalization, and heightened militarization. We will examine border cultures and the day-to-day realities of dislocation through the literature of various diasporas, and the quest for community, sovereignty, and economic security in the post 9-11 era. For part of their spring quarter credit, students will have the opportunity to engage in community-based internships around issues of immigration and human rights or project work related to program themes.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

education, international studies, community advocacy, and foreign service.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$150 per quarter for overnight field trips.

Internship Possibilities

Students will have the opportunity to engage in community-based internships around issues of immigration and human rights or project work related to program themes.  Students must complete an In-program Internship Learning Contract (designed for this program) in consultation with the faculty and Academic Advising.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Variable Credit Options

12-credit option available for students enrolled in a 4-credit language class.

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 75


Course Reference Numbers

So (16 credits): 10138
Jr (16 credits): 10139
Sr (16 credits): 10140
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 10141

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

New students joining in winter are asked to write a short paragraph about their preparation for the program, bearing in mind that the program involves intensive reading and writing. New students will be required to read one of our texts from fall, as well as the first text for winter, over break. If you would like to join the program in winter, please email the paragraph along with your student A number and class standing to Therese Saliba (

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 20073
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 20074

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students should contact the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action (CCBLA) to discuss options for an 8-credit (20 hour) community-based internship.  All interested new students should write a paragraph about their preparation for the program, prior undergraduate studies, and internship plans or interests.  Email the paragraph along with your student A number and class standing to Therese Saliba (

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 30043
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 30044

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