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Posted: September 6th, 2023

SPAN0032: History of Colonial Latin America

SPAN0032: History of Colonial Latin America
Essay Questions
The assessment for this module consists of two 2,000-word essays. Essays must be submitted
in English.
There are two questions relating to each of the nine substantive classes that make up the course
(there is no question relating to the introductory class in week 1). Students must choose
questions relating to two different classes. There are no other restrictions on choice of
In addition to the set questions, you may also write an independently-designed essay question
on any topic relating to the module. The question must be referred to the module tutor for prior
Submission deadline for essay 1: Monday 20 February 2023 at 4:00pm
Submission deadline for essay 2: Monday 24 April 2023 at 4:00pm
1 (a): How valid are cultural explanations for the Spanish conquest? Discuss.
1 (b): How has Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel affected traditional
interpretations of the Iberian conquest of the Americas?
2 (a): What factors favoured rapid evangelisation of native peoples in colonial Latin America?
What factors hindered this process?
2 (b): Did religious syncretism represent more the maintenance of native culture in colonial
Latin America, or its destruction?
3 (a): How did demographic collapse affect native populations in the Americas during the first
century after Columbus?
3 (b): How did the Columbian Exchange affect food production and consumption in colonial
Latin America?
4 (a): What was the impact of rebellions and revolts among slave communities in colonial Latin
America? Focus on the Spanish colonies AND Brazil, but NOT on Haiti.
4 (b): How did runaway slave communities such as the quilombo of Palmares maintain and
defend themselves?
5 (a): What was the contribution of mining to the development of the Iberian colonies in the
Americas? Discuss with reference to EITHER Spanish America OR Brazil.
5 (b): How well did the Carrera de Indias serve the interests of the Spanish crown? How well
did it serve the interests of the colonies?
6 (a): By the mid-seventeenth century, which needed the other more: the American colonies or
their European metropolises? Discuss with reference to EITHER Spain and Spanish America,
OR Portugal and Brazil.
6 (b): What role did the American colonies play within the global Iberian empires, and how did
this role change over time? Discuss with reference to EITHER Spain and Spanish America,
OR Portugal and Brazil.
7 (a): What were Bourbon reformers seeking to change in colonial Spanish America? How
successful were they in their efforts?
7 (b): How Enlightened was Pombaline reform in colonial Brazil?
8 (a): What were the main causes of the Túpaq Amaru rebellion in Peru?
8 (b): Explore the role of “Inca nationalism” in eighteenth-century native revolts against
Spanish rule in the Andes.
9 (a): Explore the interplay of internal and external influences on the wars of independence in
Latin America. Base your answer on EITHER Spanish America OR Brazil.
9 (b): Assess the part played by creole nationalism in the Spanish-American independence

10: In what ways did colonial Latin America experience cultural syncretism, and what were its effects on society and identity?

Potential essay question:

In what ways did colonial Latin America experience cultural syncretism, and what were its effects on society and identity?

This essay question offers a broad scope for students to explore the concept of cultural syncretism in colonial Latin America. Students can begin by defining what cultural syncretism means and then provide examples of how it occurred in the region during the colonial period. They can discuss the mixing of indigenous, African, and European cultures in various aspects of life such as religion, language, food, music, and art.

Students can then delve into the effects of cultural syncretism on society and identity. Did it create a new hybrid culture or did it lead to cultural clashes and tensions? Did it blur the lines between different social classes or reinforce them? How did it affect individual and group identity?

Moreover, students can explore the long-term impact of cultural syncretism on modern-day Latin America. Did it lay the foundation for a multicultural and diverse society or did it contribute to the marginalization and oppression of certain groups?

Overall, this essay question provides an opportunity for students to analyze the complex interactions between different cultures in colonial Latin America and reflect on the enduring legacies of cultural syncretism.

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