Africans and Amerindians in Early Modern Latin America (HIH1031)

StaffDr Silvia Espelt-Bombin - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to introduce you to the challenges encountered by historians studying Africans, Indigenous peoples and their descendants in early modern Latin America. Some of them left sources that tell us about their lives and history, while others’ experiences are buried in sources written for and by Europeans. Seminars will use a wide range of sources including paintings, engravings, maps, decrees, explorers’ narratives, missionary letters, slaving ships’ records, court and inquisition trials, and contemporary ethnography. It will also highlight the relevance and pitfalls of interdisciplinary research incorporating archaeology, linguistics and anthropology.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand and assess the main developments in the history people of African, Indigenous and mixed descent in early modern Latin America.
  • 2. Work critically with a range of written and visual sources relating to the topic.
  • 3. Assess the sources in relation to the historical debates, purposes for which different contemporary sources were produced, and analyse and evaluate their reliability and usefulness for the study of race and ethnicity in early modern Latin America.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, etc, and compare the validity of different types of sources.
  • 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely.
  • 6. Present work orally, respond to questions orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
  • 10. Write to a very tight word-length.

Syllabus plan

Weekly seminar topics may vary, but can include: Indigenous empires and polities; the encounters; the conquests; transatlantic slavery and slavery; European-Amerindians-Africans; maroon communities; Colonial societies; Religious practices.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22 hour lecture: Introduction to module
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2010 x 2 hour seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week
Guided independent study128Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing five source commentaries and an essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (3-4 students)10-15 minutes1-4, 6-7, 9Oral
Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries602000 words (500 per commentary)1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments
Essay on Sources401500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period
1500-word essay1500-word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Canny, N., Morgan, Ph. (ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, 1450-1850 (OUP, 2011).


Heuman, G., Brief Histories: The Caribbean (Hodder Arnold, 2005).


Lane, K., Restall, M., Latin America in Colonial Times (CUP, 2011).


Mills, K., Taylor, William B., Graham, S. L., Colonial Latin America. A Documentary History (Wilmington: SRB, 2002).


Moya, José (ed). The Oxford handbook of Latin American history (Oxford, 2011).


Price, R., First Time. The Historical Vision of an African American People (Chigaco UP, 1983/2002)


Restall, M., Sousa, L., Terraciano, K. Mesoamerican voices: native-language writings from Colonial Mexico, Oaxaca,

Yucatan and Guatemala. (Stanford UP, 2009).


Whitehead, N., Of Cannibals and Kings. Primal Anthropology in the Americas (PennState UP, 2011).

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Key words search

Latin America, Spanish America, Brazil, Race, Indigenous, Slavery, Early Modern.