This course is led by UBC faculty members Thomas Kemple and Sylvia Berryman.
Date: May 9 to June 24, 2022 | Vancouver dates: May 9 to June 1, 2022 | Guatemala dates: June 2 to 24, 2021
Topic: Study the impacts of globalization on a developing country and explore questions about structural oppression (the focus of Phil 335) and the potential for civil society resistance (the focus of Soci 430).
Locations visited: Vancouver campus and locations in the highlands of Guatemala.
Funding: This is an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) funded program. The ARA program aims to ensure that upper-level international research courses are accessible to academically qualified students, and that scholarly preparation and aspiration rather than financial means are the deciding factors for student participation. Funded by a generous gift from donors, the Faculty of Arts, and Go Global, the ARA program sponsors advanced research-intensive courses involving international travel. 70% of the program cost will be offset for academically qualified students; and up to 100% of the cost may be offset for academically qualified students who demonstrate financial need (as determined by Enrolment Services).
Students can only be considered for one major International Learning Award throughout their degree e.g. ARA (Arts Research Abroad) funded Global Seminars, Undergraduate Research Conference.
About the course
Philosophy 335 and Sociology 430 begin by together examining classical theories of oppressive power and civil society offered by European theorists struggling to understand the complexities of emerging modern industrial society (De Las Casas, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx and Mill, Arendt and Marcuse). Our encounter with the colonial experience as narrated from the perspective of the dominated resituates and problematizes this narrative. The impacts of globalization on a developing country highlight new questions about structural oppression and the potential for civil society resistance. More recent theorists of power, oppression and civil society along with indigenous perspectives complement and illuminate the particular instances we encounter in-country of groups confronting gender and ethnic oppression, systemic violence and the oppressive nature of extreme poverty. You will research topics of your choice relating the course themes to the local environment.
Experience in the field
The joint courses will be taught for three and half weeks (alternating days) on Vancouver campus, followed by three and a half weeks in country. Our first day in-country begins with a high impact visit to two organizations in the nation's capital: a forensic archive accessing the country's recently rediscovered National Police Archives, with records of the civil war atrocities, and a project supporting survival sex workers. Transitioning to a highland town, we spend a one-week immersion in a local initiative that combines Spanish language immersion, family home-stay, cultural orientation and experiential-learning opportunities. Lectures by a local anthropologist on the colonial experience offer an important counter-narrative to the classical European theorists studied in both courses. A further twelve days in-country center on a visit to a coffee cooperative and the indigenous highland village of Nebaj, an important location for the recent civil war, where students gain a perspective on the ravages of globalization as they play out in an impoverished community struggling to retain its cultural identity. Overnight visits to several other locations rich in history offer insights into other aspects of oppression and civil society organization: a project supporting survival sex-workers; urban extreme poverty among garbage collectors; women's weaving cooperatives; an indigenous 'university'; former guerillas.
A typical day might include:
Our days in Guatemala will begin with a simple breakfast, typically eggs, beans and tortillas, followed by some time for you to read and write, hear from a local speaker or take a trip to a nearby site (such as the mayor’s office of a small town, a hike to a cemetery from the civil war, or an archaeology museum), followed by lunch and a philosophy or sociology seminar. After dinner, evenings are free for you to study or explore the town before retiring to basic dorm accommodations.
Notable environmental conditions
Guatemala has a temperate climate, 17-22C depending on elevation, and we will be there toward the end of the rainy season.
Our first week in Guatemala, you will be in homestays with families connected to the Spanish language school. After that, we’ll have a basic dorm and hostel accommodations.