2019-2020 Catalog

LLAS 357 Environmental History of Mesoamerica

Renowned for its dramatic scenery, from the desert of Sonora to the coasts and reefs of the Yucatán, to the volcanoes of the Sierra Madre range and cloud forest of Monteverde, Mesoamerica, is also known for its increasingly unmanageable and overpopulated capitals such as Mexico City and Guatemala City. The variety of natural and built environments in Mesoamerica has produced a diversity of social, cultural, and political landscapes. This seminar explores the ways in which different cultural groups have perceived, used, managed, and conserved the Mesoamerican environment from colonial times to the present. We will address a number of interrelated questions about the relationship between Mesoamerican societies and the environment. How have natural environments established parameters for human economic and social activity? How have Mesoamericans interpreted and then reshaped their environmental surroundings to satisfy their supposed needs? What impact have race and gender had on perceptions of the environment? What have been the environmental consequences of the colonial, subsistence, and agro-export economies the 19th century infatuation with progress and the 20th century creation of industrial and urban conglomerations under the aegis of developmentalist ideologies? What is the historical geography of five centuries of sustained degradation and sporadic conservation of Mesoamerica's bio-physical environments? How have different groups of Latin Americans interacted in their quest to manage, control, and distribute natural resources? We will pay particular attention to how the relationship between humans and their natural and built environments shaped Mesoamerica's social and political development.


4 units

Cross Listed Courses

HIST 357


HIST 150, HIST 151, LLAS 101, UEP 101, or POLS 210

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus