BA Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Black Identities and Cultures in Latin America

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN30661
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Many Latin American countries have substantial Black populations which have been both central to and marginalised by nationalist ideologies. In some countries, 'Blackness' has been officially recognised over the last 30 years in multiculturalist legislation. The module pays some attention to the colonial and 19th- century background, before a main focus on twentieth and twenty-first century social relations involving 'race' and on Black identities and Afro-Latin cultures (including some emphasis on Afro-Latin music). The place of Black identities and cultures national ideologies, politics and social movements is examined and transnational and diasporic dimensions to Blackness and Black culture are included, as is an exploration of the relationship between race, gender and sex.  


The broad aims of the module are to enable a sophisticated grasp of the emergence and current significance of Black identities and cultural formations in Latin American nations.  

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will:

Teaching and learning methods


Knowledge and understanding

  • Have a systematic understanding and coherent and detailed knowledge of different theoretical approaches to Blackness and Black people in Latin America; in relation to the broad historical patterns of development of Black identities and cultures in Latin America, from the colonial period to the present day; and in relation to specific topics such as nation-building, race mixture, racism, Black resistance, official multiculturalism, black expressive culture and the intersections between race, gender and sex;
  • Apply this knowledge to critically evaluate arguments about a) processes of comparison between Indigenous and Afrodescendant peoples in Latin America; b) the role of ongoing connections with Africa, material and ideological; c) the role of USA as a point of comparison in debates about race in Latin America.  

Intellectual skills

Bring historical and ethnographic data together in an integrated analysis; synthesize multiple and diverse sources of data; critically assess what counts as evidence for an argument; appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge.

Practical skills

Distil arguments and data into clear written form.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Synthesize multiple and diverse sources of data; write clear analytical reports; communicate clearly in group contexts; work independently in ways suited to undertaking further training; better understand racial and cultural diversity.

Employability skills

Students will enhance their skills in synthesizing multiple and diverse sources of data; writing clear analytical reports; communicating clearly in group contexts; working independently; and better understanding racial, ethnic and cultural diversity

Assessment methods


1 x 2000-word midterm essay: (30%)

1 x 2-hour final exam (or 7 day submission if online; max total word length 2000): (70%)

Feedback methods

Students will receive written feedback on their midterm 2000-word essay. Throughout the course, students will receive informal verbal feedback in the tutorials and in the lectures. Students are also invited to make office hour appointments with the lecturer to receive feedback and discuss their progress. Students may also request feedback on written examinations.

Recommended reading

Andrews, George Reid. 2004. Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

de la Fuente, Alejandro, and George Reid Andrews, eds. 2018. Afro-Latin American studies: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Dixon, Kwame, and John Burdick (eds). 2012. Comparative perspectives on Afro-Latin America. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.  

Rahier, Jean, ed. 2012. Black social movements in Latin America: from monocultural mestizaje to multiculturalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  

Reiter, Bernd, and John Antón Sánchez, eds. 2023. Routledge handbook of Afro-Latin American studies. New York, NY: Routledge. 

Wade, Peter. 2009. Race and sex in Latin America. London: Pluto Press  

Wade, Peter. 2010. Race and ethnicity in Latin America. 2nd edition. London: Pluto Press.

Moreno Figueroa, Mónica G., and Peter Wade, eds. 2022. Against racism: organizing for social change in Latin America. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.  

Whitten, Norman and Arlene Torres, eds. 1998. Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.  


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Wade Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks

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