Week 1 – Introduction and First Impressions

Hi! My name is Livia Oliveira, I’m 19 and come from Brazil. I’m a second year student in the Faculty of Arts and I’m very excited to take LAST 100. Even though I’m originally from Brazil, there is a lot in regards to the history and culture of Latin America in general that I wish I could have learned more about in high school, so this course is a perfect opportunity to do so.

The first student video I watched was “Independence in Latin America” (http://last100.arts.ubc.ca/independence-in-latin-america/). The students focused on some of the most important characters in the independence of many Latin American countries (such as Jorge Matias Delgado and Simon Bolivar), and what I found really interesting was the way they touched on the effects that these people have on Latin Americans still to this day. Near the end of the video, the students also touched on their own vision of how these people and the principles that guided them affected the countries and their relationships to each other. One point that was made and really resonated with me was that Latin American countries have a lot of untapped potential, and that unity and solidarity between them, as envisioned by the revolutionaries, through political and economic alliances, for example, would help these countries prosper.

The second video I watched was “Modernity in Latin America” (http://last100.arts.ubc.ca/modernity-in-latin-america/). In discussing the process of modernization in Latin America, they talk about the role of women, which isn’t a part of the narrative of Latin American history that is usually focused on. They mention their unfair treatment when compared to men, and how, in Mexico, they were prohibited from forming a union to try and guarantee their equal rights. It’s unfortunate to see how that struggle hasn’t improved as much as it needs to, as gender inequality is still a huge problem specially in Latin America. They also discuss the role of coffee production in Brazil’s process of economic development, and how slave labour was a key component in that production – and how the slave’s emancipation didn’t exactly mean equal opportunity for the millions of people that had been brought to Brazil from Africa. Social and economic inequality is still a big issue in Brazil, and it’s easy to forget how it is actually a centuries-old problem that was never addressed. I found that part of the analysis specially relevant, and the video overall does a great job of highlighting some of the aspects of modernization in different parts of Latin America.