Tomas F. Crowder-Taraborrelli
Learning Cluster Syllabus
Winter 2014


Last year, Professor Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli led a Learning Cluster to Argentina to study and build a sustainable house in Buenos Aires. The trip was a great learning experience for everyone. We all felt this LC should be organized a second time in order to elaborate on the 2013 Sustainable Housing Cluster experience.* Once again, we’ve recruited some of the same scholars, architects, and artists that made last year’s LC such a great success.

 We are still inspired by the same research questions: Why have homes become unaffordable for most people in the world? Is it due to the cost of land, the price of construction, property taxes, and/or public services? Why must one hire an architect or an engineer when, with limited training, one can build a home by hiring just a few workers? How can these sustainable practices impact future growth of underdeveloped areas? Our Learning Cluster will explore ways in which many people in the world have built houses with reclaimed, environmentally conscious and aesthetically pleasing materials. We will also explore the connections between this type of sustainable, efficient development and how it can potentially reconcile the disconnection between urban and rural development.

While the earthship sustainable adobe homes are gaining traction in many parts of the developed world, this type of construction has long been practiced in Argentina. Indigenous communities built their homes with adobe; many of them are still standing in the North. Pioneer adobe builder Jorge Belanko, mentored by Professor Gernot Minke, founder of Earth Architecture, has committed his life to building adobe houses in Southern Argentina and to teaching others the simple construction methods. Belanko produced a well-known didactic documentary film that demonstrates the different techniques in earth building. He argues in Las manos, el barro, la casa that since the 1930s, construction with earth has been deemed to be for "poor" people; that a whole business was built around the concept that "hard materials" like concrete, are longer lasting, more elegant, and more valuable. Belanko, is one of many Argentines, redeeming an indigenous building practice that is cost-effective, easy to accomplish, environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing, and safe. Earth building as demonstrated by the interest in Belanko’s work, is particularly popular in countries like Argentina where building materials are expensive.

*For more information about the sustainable housing project, please visit last year’s Learning Cluster website: http://learningcluster-argentina2013.blogspot.com/

Purpose of the Learning Cluster

This Learning Cluster will examine the social, economic, and environmental problems of housing and urban development in Buenos Aires, one of Latin America's most populous cities, and ways in which sustainable adobe construction is being positioned by many as a possible solution. Since the 1970s, metropolitan areas in Latin America have grown dramatically, as has the income inequality between the wealthy and the poor. Slums commonly referred to as villas miserias, have increasingly become perilous ways for the poor to gain access to housing. In the last decades, the wealthy, in part influenced by unrelenting media stories about crime and insecurity have moved to the suburbs to build luxurious homes in gated communities. Conversely, slums like the well-known Villa 31 in Buenos Aires continue to expand, presenting their own sets of complex environmental issues. By analyzing ways in which sustainable housing can safely and efficiently modify the living standards in the slums, this course will assuredly transform the skepticism about sustainable housing and provide for a more educated approach to urban development in Latin America.  Urban transformation has had profound cultural, social, and political consequences for society at large.
During the first part of this travel course, we will study the rich architectural history of Buenos Aires, once considered to be the "Paris" of Latin America because of its neoclassical
buildings and wide boulevards. We will consider the decisive historical events that have shaped its urban identity. We will visit traditionally wealthy neighborhoods like Barrio Norte, working class neighborhoods like La Boca, and neighborhoods that are currently experiencing rapid transformation due to a real estate boom like Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, and Puerto Madero. We will also visit the politically charged Villa 31, a slum that was built in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of the city. Mercedes Maria Weiss, professor of art-history and architecture at the University of Buenos Aires, will lead seminars on urban history and development for our LC. The objective of these seminars will be to understand the economic and political forces that have ordered and regulated the construction of neighborhoods and housing along economic lines.
During the second part of the course, we will travel to Ingeniero Maschwitz, in the Northern part of the city, and participate on an eco-construction team with plastic artist Pablo Salvadó, where the Sustainable Housing Learning Cluster took place last year. We will participate in helping to build a sustainable adobe building. This building will eventually be completely self-sufficient and off the electricity, water and sewage grid.  
Students will have hands-on experience in the design and construction of a low-impact natural building that requires little training in construction. Based on last year’s experience,  students will form teams according to their interests. These teams will be coordinated by Professor Crowder-Taraborrelli and Professor Weiss and consist of:

* a design team ( which will draw plans for the structure of the building)
*  a budget team (which will calculate costs for purchasing equipment and materials)
*an environmental and services team (which will assess the resources available in the area, design and install electricity and water access)
* a building team (which will coordinate the field work)

The building workshop will run from 9A.M.-5 P.M.  Plastic artist Pablo Salvadó will provide all materials and tools. Among the many skills students will learn during the workshop on earth building are: laying out a rock foundation and perimeter drain, building small and medium size walls with discarded car tires, mixing adobe and plastering walls with adobe (clay), and participating in the design of a sustainable garden. Professor Weiss will explain the rain collection system that will be hooked to underground tanks to students. Cristián Torlasco, an Argentine national who obtained his architectural degree at the University of Oregon, will also be on sight to advise the project. He has built two sustainable homes in the past. In order to capture this experience, the students will create a short documentary (15-20 minutes) to be presented at the Learning Cluster Fair. This short documentary will help to educate SUA students about the practical, structural, and societal effects of living a sustainable life, as well as the positive effects on the environment and humanity.

Course Objectives

1.Gain a deeper understanding of the significance of sustainable living where environmentally stable housing and financial security is under threat.

2. Research the process and practice of sustainable construction using both recycled and natural resources.

3. Perform a comparative study between southern California and the province of Buenos Aires in regards to property management and building permit regulations where sustainable construction is concerned.

4. Critically analyze the contrasting architectural styles as well as the use of materials among affluent and impoverished communities.

5. Create meaningful relationships between the group and organizations in Argentina dedicated to building sustainable homes.

6. Facilitate discussions that encourage social change through community activism.

Learning Outcomes

Team building; experience hands on learning; production and construction of a documentary.

As the universal movement for sustainable living collects momentum, the students of this Learning Cluster will have a much more expansive and tangible understanding of what it takes to bring the theory of sustainable living into practice. By visiting and exploring wealthy and poor neighborhoods alike, students will gain knowledge of both the materials and resources that have been utilized, in a highly contrasting way, to create the city of Buenos Aires. Students will aspire to achieve the following learning outcomes in a variety of ways:

Develop students’ habits of independent inquiry and study: Prior to leaving for Argentina, all students will form research teams and present their findings to the rest of the class. The documentary aspect of the project in Argentina will provide another avenue for independent growth, as students will be able to develop their own questions to be asked in interviews as well as organize visual material to complement the pedagogical objectives of the Learning Cluster.

Engender analytical and investigative skills and the ability to apply them to a specific problem or question: During their first week in Argentina students will develop questions and expectations based both on their own research as well as research presented by their classmates. During the second and third weeks, they will combine this research with firsthand experience in order to understand how to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Enhance the ability to work collaboratively: Students will be working together to organize the trip, develop the documentary interviews, divide the subject matter, and create a cohesive final project.  They will also have to develop a steadfast work ethic to include all team members, both domestic and international, who will be collaborating and contributing to the success of the project.  The experience in its entirety will require students to depend on each other’s skills, including Spanish speaking abilities, different cultural understandings, and creative writing talents.

Foster a contributive ethic by working on issues that have a larger social significance or meaning: The creation of sustainable housing not only benefits the immediate community and the environment directly, but also ripples out to provide an alternative way to build a house for people who cannot afford the standard industrialized, corporate approach to building. Our documentary will further contribute to spreading awareness about the feasibility of and access to resources for this type of construction.

Prepare students for their roles as engaged global citizens:  Through personal encounters, new experiences, hands on creation, community collaboration, inquiry into government regulations, critical evaluation of materials and resources, and an overall objective of contributing to the sustainability of humanity, this experience in Argentina will help deepen the understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Impact on SUA Community

Upon return, students from this Learning Cluster will attempt to impact the SUA community in an innovative manner that will shed light upon the environmental inquiries that are still very much alive on-campus. Once we learn the techniques of building an earth structure, we will be able to impart this knowledge to those who are willing to learn and take action. Bringing awareness of our LC project to the SUA community will allow for a gradual shift in the way our generation perceives sustainable living in the United States, and especially, in Orange County. Understanding, for instance, the implications of renewable and solar energy will help Soka students realize that we each have the capacity to push the “eco-friendly--go green” movement even further. This will instill a sense of pride in our students to contribute to the global community on an exceedingly prudent and moral level. These earth ships prove that humanity is capable of “doing more”. SUA can be one of the first campuses to realize the potential and effectiveness of these living standards.
Soka takes great pride in the Language and Culture Program. Close to 90% of our LC class is studying the Spanish language. By traveling to Argentina to experience the culture and life in Latin America, we can share our discoveries and challenges in working in another language with fellow students back home. We envision that this LC’s travel component will empower others to better their language skills by immersing themselves in una cultura hispanohablante.
Finally, the meaning behind the word “Soka”—to create value—is also tied into our LC’s belief that through the creation of sustainable living spaces, we can create value on our own. A home is one of the most quintessential parts of being human. Humans need shelter, and creating a home can both accomplish that goal and represent part of the human identity within society. By collaborating together as a team to build this sustainable living space, this LC re-defines what value means within the home. A home is not just composed of nails, wood and paint--it can be composed of matter that we recycle, of matter that is part of the earth we live on. Giving, instead of taking is what matters most in this paradigm for sustainable dwellings. We feel that such a message will resonate with the SUA community. Can value be created within a home? Why is it important to give back? These are some of the working questions that define our Learning Cluster.

Significance of Fieldwork and Location

While abroad, this Learning Cluster will study the architectural history of Buenos Aires, as well as construct a true realization of sustainable architecture. As sustainable architecture is still in its infancy, contributing to a fully self-sustaining housing project is a rare opportunity that can influence the current perception and future of sustainable eco-housing. The structure that we will leave in Argentina will be a unique and significant step towards a more sustainable world. It will advertise itself to the local community, but we plan to spread additional awareness through an instructional documentary. While much of our studies are for the course members, this endeavor is about proving that “off the grid” living is not only possible, but cost effective and feasible. We hope to inspire and instigate future architectural experimentation and innovation.
     Buenos Aires is the heart and spirit of Argentina, and the focus of this LC. Touring the city and buildings in Argentina is vital in this critical study to decipher the distinct differences between communities within the city. Understanding Urban Development in Buenos Aires, Argentina plays a large role in understanding how sustainable housing can be successful in nearby communities.
     This LC also seeks to analyze the architectural and aesthetic styles of housing in the city, in collaboration with a local non-profit institution called Techo.Like this LC, Techo advocates the importance of strengthening urban development on social policies in impoverished areas. More pertinent to this course, Techo builds an environment where sustainable communities exist in order to improve the quality of life for those who are struggling to survive in Buenos Aires and its surrounding neighborhoods. By gaining a deeper understanding of the area as the students travel to contrasting locations, they will be able to engage with the community members and discuss how they can help impact the community on the social and cultural facet of this study. What is really at risk here is that the public in Argentina lacks awareness about sustainable
housing. This course will help them see that this is a cost-effective manner of living that is easily accessible. This study and project could truly educate and inspire Argentines to take action and improve their own quality of living.
The opportunity given to the students to travel to Argentina will profoundly affect the way in which these students comprehend the rapidly growing slums at a time in which an unstable and unforgiving economy exists for all. They are found in rural areas and as well as in populous cities such as in Buenos Aires. According to July 2004 estimates, there are about 640 precarious neighborhoods in suburban Buenos Aires, comprising of 690,000 residents and 111,000 households. The population of villas miseria in the city of Buenos Aires property doubled during the 1990s, reaching about 120,000 as of 2005, which is continuously growing today. These statistics show how important it is to study the reasons behind not only how both slums, such as “neighborhoods of misery” and cities are built and where they are located, but also of laying the foundation for the causes and reasons for why they exist. 

Students will have hands-on experience in the design and construction of a low-impact natural building that requires little training in construction. Grade breakdown is the following: Participation on the field: 60%, Blog submissions 20%, Learning Cluster Fair participation: 20% Students will form teams according to their interests and write blog entries describing their responsibilities and accomplishments. For that purpose a website has been created:


Teams will be coordinated by Professor Crowder-Taraborrelli:

* a design team ( which will draw plans for the structure of the building)
*  a budget team (which will calculate costs for purchasing equipment and materials)
*an environmental and services team (which will asses the resources available in the area, design and install electricity and water access)
* a building team (which will coordinate the field work)

The building workshop will run from 9A.M.-5 P.M.  Plastic artist Pablo Salvadó will provide all materials and tools. A short documentary will help to educate SUA students about the practical, structural, and societal effects of living a sustainable life, as well as the positive effects on the environment and humanity.

Week 1

Monday Jan. 6:
10AM- 12PM: Review syllabus with the class and course/objective overview. Assign group and/or individual research based questions and topics for course. Discuss reading: Rock, Chapters 8 and 9, Sernau Chapter 10 (Social Inequality).
1PM-3PM: In class training session to prepare construction of adobe structure. Screening: Garbage Warrior.

Tuesday Jan 7:
10AM-12PM: Overview of history of urban development in Buenos Aires, Argentina since the 1970’s. Discuss Reading: Wilson, Part 1 and 3.
1PM-3PM: Overview of sustainable housing in/around Buenos Aires, Argentina (Techo website)

Wednesday Jan 8:
10AM-12PM: Screening: Las manos, el barro, la casa
1PM-3PM: Discuss documentary and implications. Discuss reading: Carns, Chapter 7 and Sanchez Chapter 1.
Form teams.

Thursday Jan 9:
Please update

Friday Jan 10:
AM: Depart LAX

Saturday Jan 11:
*Meeting time TBA depending on flight arrival.
12PM: Meet at Tomas’ apartment to discuss reading: Phillips, Chapter 14 and 16.  Teams discuss reading according to their team topic and assignment. Water, discuss reading: Ludwig, Chapter 7.
1PM: Lunch
2PM-3PM: Meet with collaborating institution, Techo representatives and conduct short interview to better understand community development in the Buenos Aires region.
5PM: Dinner
7PM: Daily Reflection on Angel.

Sunday Jan 12:
9AM-12PM: Architectural tour of the Center of Buenos Aires with Professor Weiss. Compare styles of construction and techniques with earth architecture and green building.
12PM-1PM: Lunch
1PM-4PM: Meet at Tomas’ apartment. Teams present list of objectives and tasks during construction of earth building. Discuss reading: Minke, Chapter 2 and 3, Fryer Chapters 4 and 5.
5PM: Dinner
7PM: Daily Reflection on Angel.

Week 2

Mon Jan 13:
9AM-12PM: Meet to prepare for week two and discuss travel and earth ship construction. Architectural tour of Northern part of Buenos Aires with Professor Weiss.
12PM-1PM: Lunch
1PM-3PM:  Screening: Earthship-Britanny Groundhouse
Visit Villa 31 (Barrio Retiro).
7PM: Dinner with plastic artist Pablo Salvadó. Daily Reflection on Angel.

Tues Jan 14:
9AM-12PM:  Lecture by Argentine Economist and former real state agent Alexis Dritsos: "Real estate in Buenos Aires: the affordability of housing". . Schroder, Ogletree, Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5. Discussion with architect Mercedes Maria Weiss and Pablo Salvadó about building techniques in adobe construction.
12PM-1PM: Lunch
1PM-4PM: Design of earth building. Teams offer suggestions for building techniques.
5PM: Meeting with plastic artist Salvadó and architect Weiss to discuss plans for earth structure. Demonstration of labor— how to utilize sustainable materials for successful building. Become familiar with materials as a group.
7PM: Daily Reflection

Wednesday Jan 15:
8AM: Breakfast
9AM: Depart by bus for Ingeniero Maschwitz.
10AM: Arrive at location. Meet with plastic artist Pablo Salvado, on-site architect Cristian Torlasco and Weiss. Foundation work.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue work on draining ditch and foundation. Discuss reading: Hunter Chapter 4.
5PM: Return to city. Evaluation of costs for purchasing equipment and materials.
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection on Angel. Teams meet to discuss progress of earth building.

Thursday Jan 16:
8AM: Breakfast
9AM: Depart by bus for Ingeniero Maschwitz.
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project. Wall, windows, draining.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection on Angel.

Friday January 17:
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection on Angel.

Saturday January 18:
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project. Construction of walls, preparation of adobe.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection on Angel.

Sunday January 19:
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project. Walls, adobe, plastering.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection

Week 3

Monday January 20:
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection

Tuesday January 21:
10AM: Arrive at location. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Continue construction of on-site project.
5PM: Return to city. Update on progress of documentary film.
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection

Wednesday January 22:
10AM: Arrive at location. Discuss Reading: Hunter, Chapter 5. Work on project with on-site architects.
12PM: Lunch
1-5PM: Preparation of roof structure.
5PM: Return to city
6PM: Dinner
8PM: Daily Reflection on Angel

Thursday January 23:
May need 9th day

Friday January 24:
Please update

Saturday January 25:
Please update

Sunday January 26:

Week 4

Monday January 27:
10AM-12PM: Continue to edit and work on film material.
1-3PM: Film editing continued.

Tuesday January 28:
10AM-12PM: Finalize any film editing needed.
1PM-3PM: Film finalizing continued.

Wednesday January 29:
10-12AM: Meet to discuss and launch our short film on YouTube.
1-3PM: Discuss our Learning Cluster Fair Presentation. (TBA)

End of Winter Block

*We will be filming throughout our Learning Cluster. The objective is to create a short film documentary (15-20 min) about our group and individual studies on Urban Development, Architecture, and Sustainable Housing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

*Students will submit photo essays, personal essays, and possibly more material about their experiences with building, their time spent in the city, and the economic, social, and environmental issues they study. Students will be divided into their four groups (design, environmental, building, budget) and each group will submit a final bibliography on their assigned topic of interest.

Health and Safety

*For the following reasons, Buenos Aires is considered to be a relatively safe place to stay.

1. Health

Buenos Aires has a temperate climate that ranges from subtropical in the north and sub polar down south. During the month of January, we will be experiencing an Argentine Summer, which turns out to be relatively hot with high moisture readings. The Center for Disease Control states that Malaria should not be a concern since Buenos Aires is an urban center. It does, however, recommend for travelers to have their vaccines up to date, which will be required of all students in the group.

2. The Popularity of the Destination

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Buenos Aires is the second most desirable city to visit. This suggests that Buenos Aires is as safe as any other major urban hub.

3. Safety Rules and Guidelines

The students will always be required to remain in groups of 2-3 people at all times. It is recommended that all members of the core group be informed when a small group separates. It is also important that a fluent Spanish speaker be assigned to each smaller group at all times. The students will be oriented on safe practices for a major city of this type but are also expected to exercise common sense.


The official spoken language in Buenos Aires, Argentina is Spanish. The sponsoring faculty, Professor Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli, is a native Argentine, fluent in both English and Spanish. Three of the students in this Learning Cluster group are native Spanish speakers, 2 other students are fluent and about 3 are capable of understanding and communicating back fairly well.

Accompanying Faculty

Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli, Visiting Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies,
will be the accompanying faculty. He led two successful Learning Clusters to Brazil (2010), San Diego/Tijuana (2011), and Argentina (2012). All class meetings will be held in an apartment in Buenos Aires outfitted with AV equipment.

Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli

Map of Buenos Aires, Argentina & Location of Property

Works Cited
Carns, Ted. Off on Our Own: Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence: One Couple’s “Learn as We Go” Journey to Self-Reliance. N.p.: St. Lynn’s, 2011. Print.
Fryer, Julie. The Complete Guide to Water Storage: How to Use Gray Water and Rainwater Systems, Rain Barrels, Tanks, and Other Water Storage Techniques for Household and Emergency Use (Back to Basics Conserving). N.p.: Atlantic, 2011. Print.
Hunter, Kaki, and Donald Kiffmeyer. Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques (Natural Building Series). N.p.: New Society, 2004. Print.
Low, Setha M. Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader. N.p.: Rutgers UP, 1999. Print.
Ludwig, Art. Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use--Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks. N.p.: Oasis Design, 2005. Print.
Minke, Gernot. Building with Earth: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture. 2nd ed. N.p.: Birkhäuser Architecture, 2009. Print.
Phillips, E. Barabara. City Lights: Urban-Suburban Life in the Global Society. N.p.: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Rock, David. Argentina, 1516-1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsín. N.p.: University of California Press, 1987. Print.
Roy, Rob. Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Home. N.p.: New Society, 2006. Print.
Sanchez, Laura, and Alex Sanchez. Adobe Houses for Today: Flexible Plans for Your Adobe Home. N.p.: Sunstone, 2008. Print.
Schroder, Lisa, and Vince Ogletree. Adobe Homes for All Climates: Simple, Affordable, and Earthquake-Resistant Natural Building Techniques. N.p.: Chelsea Green, 2010. Print.
Sernau, Scott R. Social Inequality in a Global Age. Third ed. N.p.: Sage, 2010. Print.
Wilson, Jason. Buenos Aires: A Cultural History. N.p.: Interlink, 1999. Print.

Documentary films and instructional videos:

El barro, las manos, la casa

Other possible resources for student research

Earth architecture

1. “Tips on Building an Adobe House” . This website has sections dedicated to different aspects of building an adobe home. One of the most helpful sections is titled “Adobe Bricks.” It has step by step instructions on how to make adobe bricks which essentially make up the structure.

2. Adobe Houses for Today: Flexible Plans for Your Adobe Home book for purchase: $27 .This book was mentioned in an article titled “Top Six Adobe House Building Plans and Manuals.” It covers plans for building an adobe house including many photographs and diagrams.

3. Adobe: Build it Yourself book for purchase: $29     This book was also mentioned in the article “Top Six Adobe House Building Plans and Manuals.” This one covers the building codes and energy requirements in building an adobe home.

4. “Adobe Building Systems”  This website is titled “Adobe Building Systems.” On this particular link you will find  what amounts to a power point on the basics of building an adobe home.

5. Sustainable Development in Argentina
Sustainable development in Argentina analyzes why, despite having an impressive endowment of renewable and non-renewable resources, Argentina has failed to maintain its relative global position in economic, social and environmental development in recent decades. The authors summarize the main environmental problems in the country and conclude that the current trend is not unsustainable development but unsustainable underdevelopment, with increasing damage to natural resources and ecosystems and a growing incidence of poverty.

6.   Sustainable building and community organization technologies
Whilst much has changed in Argentina over the last four decades, housing remains a critical issue. Public housing schemes favor the construction of expensive homes that are accessible to few. There is an ever-growing need, therefore, to tackle the housing problem through a comprehensive approach that addresses housing, employment and local development. The Experimental Centre for Economic Housing/Association for Economic Housing (AVE/CEVE) is a non-governmental organization established over 40 years ago in the context of rapid urbanization. AVE/CEVE has worked to develop, apply and transfer a range of technical solutions to address various housing issues affecting low-income communities. Its approach encourages the active participation of residents throughout the process -- both in projects for housing construction and in technology transfer processes. AVE/CEVE has developed a number of technologies and systems that seek to ensure the efficient use of energy and water resources, including a compact toilet and sink unit which results in water savings of 20%.

7.    Buenos Aires: Global Dreams, Local Crises by David J. Keeling
Buenos Aires is a city of fascinating contrasts. The most southerly of the world's great metropolises, it dominates the Argentine urban system, but is relatively isolated from the rest of Latin America and the global economic and political system. The archetypal elegance and sophistication of the Paris of the South is set against the problem of poor housing, social deprivation, and suburban sprawl. As Argentina struggles to maintain a democracy, the future stability of the region depends on how this vital, varied, and vulnerable city comes to terms with the need to restructure in the face of economic, environmental, and demographic crises. The book begins with an overview of the city's four-hundred-year history, which forms the basis for an examination of the contemporary urban landscape. This leads to an analysis of local politics in relation to planning and housing policies that is followed by a consideration of changes in the city's economic structures and an examination of Buenos Aires' national, regional and global transport links. The book then turns to a detailed look at the city's green spaces, environmental problems, and health care systems.

8.    The Influence of the World Bank on National Housing and Urban Policies: The Case of Mexico and Argentina During the 1990s (Ashgate Economic Geography Series) by Cecilia Zanetta
Firmly grounded on her professional work, Dr. Zanetta’s academic research is aimed at building a bridge between practice and the world of ideas to ultimately improve living conditions in developing countries. During the past ten years, she has worked extensively on development projects in many Latin and Central American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Peru. Her main areas of interest include urban and housing policies, decentralization, public sector modernization and sub-national governments. Dr. Zanetta is an adjunct faculty member at the Department of Geography, University of Tennessee.


Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli
HUM 290.03. 1108
Wednesdays and Fridays, 3:00-4:30 p.m. (90 minutes) Gan 303B

Office: Ikeda 321
Office hours: To be announced


In this course we will explore the national cinemas and film industries of various countries in Latin America. We will analyze films both as artistic products (formal qualities, cinematic genres and stylistic influences) and as sociological documents. Films will also be analyzed in relation to the continental and transcontinental categories of “Latin American Cinema” and “Third Cinema.” Films have been selected not only for their historical significance, their influence in the cinema of the continent and world cinema, but also because of the formal innovations.
We will start the course by posing some basic questions: What is the importance of cinema in the representation of a national and/or continental culture? How do filmmakers represent national identity in their films and why do they represent them in a certain way? What do films tell us about social and economic hierarchies? What formal strategies do filmmakers use to engage the spectator?
After the Cuban Revolution, and partially as a result of the creation of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), Latin American films received an injection of creativity. In the course we will establish what these aesthetic and social innovations were and attempt to track them in more contemporary films. An important part of this course will be to consider the role that documentary films have played in providing groundbreaking evidence that has both paved the way for democratic reforms in certain countries, and helped to change complicated amnesty laws that have blocked the prosecution of crimes against humanity, thus impacting the international legal community. The course will also serve as a forum to debate and conceptualize a new approach to the study of film based on a rupture in the ways Latin American nations have envisioned the past.
As you will notice during the semester, some of the films screened are of poor quality and some do not have subtitles in English. Some Latin American films are very hard to find and researchers often have to contact the filmmakers themselves to obtain copies. As we will discuss in class, this reflects the lack of resources of production companies to distribute their films in the rest of the world, therefore limiting the cultural offerings for spectators about Latin American cultural identity.

Assignments and grade breakdown

Five critical responses on film discussion forum--Angel (1 page)            30%
Presentation                                                     20%
Research Paper (10-12 pages)                                     30%
Attendance and participation                                     20%

You must come to class prepared for discussion. Read the text assigned before class, take copious notes and come to class with questions. Your participation not only will improve your overall grade but it is fundamental part of the course’s success. Please arrive on time to class so that I can begin the screening promptly. You may have trouble understanding the overall message of a film if you miss the opening scene.
Each student will have to lead one discussion seminar, introducing a text or a film and explain to the rest of the class its relevance to the history of Latin American film. If you are assigned a film, you must discuss three or more scenes that highlight central thematic, theoretical or formal issues. For the most part, we will watch films in class but you will also be required to attend two screenings outside class (date and time to be confirmed). These films are open to the public.
You will be expected to post screening reflections after viewing the films on the Angel discussion forums. To insure that everyone has the chance to read your comments, please post them before 9 p.m. on Mondays.
For the final assignment, students must write a 10-12 research, argumentative essay. I will be happy to discuss with you a prospectus for the essay and help you organize your bibliography and filmography.  Please type all written work using a standard 12-point font, double-space the text, leave a one-inch margin on all sides, and staple multiple pages. To avoid penalization, paper extensions must be approved before the essay is due. Late work is penalized 5 points (1/2 grade) per day. Please follow the MLA Style format for citations and general style formatting. You can find an online version of the MLA style manual at:

Go to this website and click on the link to the MLA Formatting and Style Guide (on the right hand side of the page).

Grading Guidelines
In grading, I will consider two central aspects of the student’s performance-participation in class discussion and writing. If you have any questions about the writing assignments, please make sure to ask during class time (other students might have similar questions).

Essays: This course fosters rigorous inquiry and critical thinking and promotes effective written argumentation.

A range: This paper is outstanding in form and content. The thesis is clear and insightful; it is original, or it expands in a new way on ideas presented in the course. The evidence presented in support of the argument is carefully chosen and deftly handled. The argument is not only unified and coherent, but also complex and nuanced.

B range: This paper's thesis is clear; the argument is coherent and presents evidence in support of its points. The argument shows comprehension of the material and manifests critical thinking about the issues raised in the course. The paper is reasonably well written and proofread. The argument, while coherent, does not have the complexity, the insight, or the integrated structure of an A range paper.

C range: This paper has some but not all of the basic components of an argumentative essay (i.e., thesis, evidence, coherent structure): for example, it may offer a thesis of some kind, but it presents no evidence to support this thesis; or it may present an incoherent thesis; or it may simply repeat points made in class without an overall argument. Such a paper is usually poorly organized, written and proofread.

A paper lacking more than one of the basic components of an argumentative essay will earn a grade of  "D" or below.

Please make sure to check Angel before each class meeting to see if I have posted any notes about the course or assignments that haven’t been announced in class. I will ask students during the semester to write blogs posts to discuss articles, films or essay prompts.

Accommodation for Persons with a Disability
Student desiring accommodations on the basis of physical learning, or psychological disability for this class are to contact the Office of Student Services. Student Services is located in Student Affairs.

Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing about Film. New York: Prentice Hall (7th edition). You can purchase this book online (new and used). http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780321096654-0

ATTENTION: Readings to be discussed in class are listed under the date that they will be discussed

Friday, Sept. 9:
Readings: Film Grammar Power Point (DVD, 7 mins.)
Screening: Close-reading and discussion of two opening scenes: Adrián Biniez, Gigante [Giant], Uruguay, (2009), Arcady Boytler, La mujer del puerto [The woman of the port] Mexico, (1933).

Wednesday, Sept. 14:
Readings: Rene Claire, “How Films Are Made.” 
 Timothy Corrigan.  A Short Guide to Writing about Film. Chapter 1, 2.
Screening: Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, María Candelaria (Xochimilco), Mexico, (1944) (sequence screened in class). First 50 minutes of Aventurera.

Discussion leader (R. Claire): ____________________________________________
Discussion leader (Corrigan): ____________________________________________

Friday, Sept. 16:
Readings: John King. “Cinema in Latin America.” 
 Ana M. López. “Women and Melodrama in the ‘Old’ Mexican Cinema”. 
Screening: Aventurera, Alberto Gout, Mexico (1950), (remaining 90 minutes).
Assignment: First critical response on discussion forum on Angel by  Monday 9 p.m.

Discussion leader (King): ___________________________________

Wednesday, Sept. 21:
Readings: Cesare Zavattini. “Some Ideas On The Cinema.” 
 Andre Bazin, “De Sica: Metteur-En-Scene.” 
Screening: Vittorio De Sica, Ladri di biciclette, [The Bicycle Thief] Italy, (1948) (sequence screened in class) El [This Strange Passion], Luis Buñuel, Mexico, (1950). 92 min. First part 45 min.

Discussion leader (Zavattini) _____________________________________
Discussion leader (Bazin)_________________________________________

Friday, Sept. 23:
Readings:  Julianne Burton-Carvajal, “Regarding Rape: Fictions of Origin and Film Spectatorship.” 
Screening: El [This Strange Passion] Second Part

Discussion leader (Burton-Carvajal)________________________________

Wednesday, Sept. 28:
Readings: John Hess, “Neo-Realism and New Latin American Cinema.” (Angel) Rocha, Glauber “An Esthetic of Hunger.” 
Screening: Fernando Birri, Tire Die [Throw me a dime], Argentina (1960) (sequence screened in class).
In Class Assignment: Analysis of a sequence from Tire Die.
SPECIAL OPEN SCREENING: Carancho, . 7 p.m. Location to be announced

Discussion leader (Hess) ____________________________________________
Discussion leader (Rocha)____________________________________________

Friday, Sept. 30:
Readings:  V.I. Pudovkin, “Film Technique.” 
 Timothy Corrigan. A Short Guide to Writing about Film. Chapters 3, 4.   Eisenstein, Sergei “From Film Form: The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram” (suggested reading).
Screening: Analysis of editing techniques in and in Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund’s Cidade de Deus, [City of God], Brazil, (2002) (sequence screened in class).
Assignment: Second critical response on discussion forum on Angel by Monday 9 p.m.

Discussion leader (Pudovkin) _______________________________________________
Discussion leader (Corrigan)  ----------------------------------------------

Wednesday, Oct. 5:
Readings: Paul Rotha, “Some Principles of Documentary.” 
 John Mraz “Santiago Alvarez: From Dramatic form to direct cinema.” 
 Travis Wilkerson, “Hasta la victoria siempre.” in Senses of Cinema (Link): http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/01/17/hasta.html
Screening: Santiago Álvarez, Che Guevara, Hasta La Victoria Siempre, Cuba (1967) 19 minutes.

Discussion leader (Rotha) __________________________________________________
Discussion leader (Mraz, Wilkerson) ________________________________________

Friday, Oct. 7:
Readings:  Che Guevara, “Message to the Tricontinental” (Link):
Screening:  Una foto recorre el mundo, [A Photograph Travels the World] Pedro Chaskel, Cuba, Chile (1981)

Discussion leader (Guevara) _______________________________________________

Wednesday, Oct. 12:
Readings:  To be announced
Screening: Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brasilia, Contradicoes de uma Cidade Nova, Brazil (1967) 23 min. Memories of Underdevelopment, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba (1968), 97 min. First Part.

Friday, Oct. 14:
Readings: To be announced
Screening: Memories of Underdevelopment, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba (1968), 97 min. Second Part.
Assignment: Third critical response on discussion forum on Angel by Monday 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 19:
Readings: Jorge Sanjinés and the Ukamau Group, “Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema.” 
 Julio García Espinosa, “For an Imperfect Cinema.” 
Screening: Octavio Cortázar, Por la  primera vez [For The First Time], Cuba (1967)  Mario Handler, Me gustan los estudiantes [I Like Students], Uruguay (1968).

Discussion Leader (Sanjinés)_______________________________________________
Discussion leader (Espinosa)_______________________________________________

Friday, Oct. 21:
Readings:  Teshome H. Gabriel, “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Suggested reading!
Screening: Raymundo Gleyzer, La Tierra Quemada [The Burnt Land], Brazil and Argentina (1964) (12 min.)  Ernesto Ardito, Virna Molina,  Raymundo, Argentina (2003) (Sequence screened in class).
Assignment: Fourth critical response on discussion forum on Angel by  Monday 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 26:
Readings: Solanas and Getino, “Towards a Third Cinema.”
“Some Notes on the Concept of a ‘Third Cinema.’” 
 Robert Stam, “The Hour of the Furnaces and the two avant-gardes.” Suggested reading!!!
Screening: Sequences from Fernando “Pino” Solanas and Octavio Getino, La hora de los hornos [The Hour of The Furnaces], Argentina (1969).

Discussion leader (Solanas and Getino) ______________________________________

Friday, Oct. 28:
Readings: Samira Makhmalbaf, “The Digital Revolution And The Future Cinema.” 
Screening: Alejandro Fernández Mouján, Solo se escucha el viento, [Only the wind can be heard], Argentina, 2007 (21 min.) Cine Insurgente, (shorts screened in class)

Wednesday, Nov. 2:
Readings: Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” 
Screenings: Carlos Diegues, Bye Bye Brazil, Brazil (1980) (sequence screened in class), Nestor Frenkel, Buscando a Reynols [Searching For Reynols], Argentina (2004) (sequence screened in class).

Friday, Nov. 4:
Readings: Randal Johnson, “In the Belly of the Ogre: Cinema and State in Latin America.” 
Screenings: Santiago Alvarez, El Tigre salto y mato…pero…morira…morira!! Cuba (1973) (Also available in YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhUTNRJzgKA). Fernando Faro, Elis Regina: MPB Special, Brazil (1973) (sequence screened in class), Roberto Farias, Roberto Carlos: Em Ritmo de Aventura, Brazil (1971), Diego Capusotto, Peter Capusotto y Sus Videos (2006-2007)

Wednesday, Nov. 9:
Readings: Joseph H. Kupfer, “Film Criticism and Virtue Theory.” 
Screening: Patricio Guzmán, La Batalla de Chile [The Battle of Chile], Chile (1978) y El caso Pinochet, [The Pinochet Case] Chile (2001) (sequence screened in class).

Discussion leader (Kupfer): _________________________________________________

Friday, Nov. 11:
Readings: Elizabeth Jelin, “Political Struggles for Memory” and “Trauma, Testimony, and ‘Truth.’” 
Screening: Silvio Caiozzi,  Fernando ha vuelto [Fernando is back] Chile (1998).

Discussion leader (Jelin)____________________________________________________

Assignment: Fifth critical response on discussion forum on Angel by Monday 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 16:
Readings:  Robert A. Rosenstone, “History in Images, History in Words.” 
Screening:  El General, Dir. Natalia Almada, Mexico/USA, 2009, 83 minutes  [First Part: 40 min.]

Friday, Nov. 18:
Readings:  Rosenstone (cont.)
Screening: El General, Dir. Natalia Almada, Mexico/USA, 2009, 83 minutes [Second Part: 43 minutes]

Wednesday, Nov. 23:
Readings: Kristi M. Wilson, “From Pensioner to Teenager: Everyday Violence in De Sica’s Umberto D and Gaviria’s Rodrigo D: No Future.” 
Screening: Victor Gaviria,  Rodrigo D, No Futuro [Rodrigo D: No Future], Colombia (1990)       (sequence screened in class) Jose Padilha, Onibus 174 [Bus 174], Brazil (2002) First Part

Discussion Leader (Wilson)__________________________________________________

Friday, Nov. 25:

Wednesday, Nov. 30:
Screening: Onibus 174. Second Part

Assignment: Discuss prompts for final essay. Prepare outline for Wednesday. Bring a hard copy to class!

Friday, Dec. 2:
Overview of film terms and techniques. Review and critique essay outlines.

Wednesday, Dec. 7:
Readings: Deborah Shaw. Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Breaking into the Global Market. 10-64.
SPECIAL OPEN SCREENING: Location to be announced.  Claudia Llosa, La teta asustada, Peru (2009).

Friday, Dec. 9:
Last day of class!!!
Final Exam

WEEK 15:

Assignment: Final essay is due! Date to be announced


Bazin, Andre. “De Sica: Metteur-En-Scene.” What is cinema?, edited by Bazin, André, Gray, Hugh, Andrew, Dudley, Renoir, Jean. University of California Press, 2005.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010.

Burton-Carvajal, Julianne. “Regarding Rape: Fictions of Origin and Film Spectatorship.” Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic Encounters in the Americas, edited by Ana M. Lopez, and Manuel Alvarado. BFI Publishing, 1993.

Corrigan, Timothy. Short Guide to Writing about Film. Pearson, 2011.

Eisenstein, Sergei. “From Film Form: The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram.” Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford University Press, 1992.

Espinoza, Julio Garcia. “For an imperfect cinema.” Jump Cut: A Review to Contemporary Media, www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC20folder/ImperfectCinema.html.

Gabriel, Teshome. “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Teshome Gabriel: Articles & Other Works, teshomegabriel.net/third-cinema-as-guardian-of-popular-memory.

Getino, Octavio. “Some Notes on the Concept of a ‘Third Cinema.’” New Latin American Cinema, edited by Michael T. Martin. Wayne State University Press, 1997, pp. 99-107.

Guevara, Che. “Message to the Tricontinental.” Che Guevara Internet Archive, www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1967/04/16.htm.

Hess, John. “Neo-Realism and New Latin American Cinema.” Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic Encounters in the Americas, edited by Ana M. Lopez, and Manuel Alvarado. BFI Publishing, 1993.

Jelin, Elizabeth, et al. State repression and the labors of memory. University of Minnesota, 2003

Johnson, Randal. “In the Belly of the Ogre: Cinema and State in Latin America.” Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic Encounters in the Americas, edited by Ana M. Lopez, and Manuel Alvarado. BFI Publishing, 1993.

Joseph H. Kupfer, “Film Criticism and Virtue Theory.” Visions of Virtue in Popular Film. Westview Press, 1999.

King, John. Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America. Verso, 2000.

López, Ana M. “Women and Melodrama in the ‘Old’ Mexican Cinema.” Oxford Reading in Feminism: Feminism and film, edited by E. Ann Kaplan. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Makhmalbaf, Samira. “The Digital Revolution and The Future Cinema.” Haussite, 10 May 2000, www.haussite.net/haus.0/SCRIPT/txt2000/08/digi_rev.HTML.

Mraz, John. “Santiago Alvarez: From Dramatic form to direct cinema.” The Social Documentary in Latin America, edited by Julianne Burton. University of Pittsburg Press, 1990, pp. 131-149.

Rene, Clair (1972). How Films Are Made.” Film: An Anthology, edited by Daniel Talbot, California, 1972, pp. 225-233.

Robert Stam, “The Hour of the Furnaces and the two avant-gardes.” The social documentary in Latin America, edited by Julianne Burton. University of Pittsburg Press, 1990.

Rocha, Glauber. “An Esthetic of Hunger.” New Latin American Cinema, edited by Michael T. Martin. Wayne State University Press, 1997.

Rosenstone, Robert A. Visions of the past: the challenge of film to our idea of history. Harvard University Press, 1995.

Rotha, Paul. “Some Principles of Documentary.” A Paul Rotha Reader, edited by Duncan Petrie, and Robert Kruger. University of Exeter Press, 1999.

Pudovkin, V.I. “Film Technique and Film Acting.” CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

Sanjinés, Jorge, and the Ukamau Group. “Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema.” New Latin American cinema: Vol. 1: Theory, practices and transcontinental articulations, edited by Michael T. Martin. Wayne State University Press, 1997, pp. 62-70.

Shaw, Deborah. Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Breaking into the Global Market. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007.

Solanas, Fernando, and Octavio Getino. “Towards a Third Cinema.” Documentary is never neutral, documentaryisneverneutral.com/words/camasgun.html.

Wilkerson, Travis. “Home Cinémathèque Annotations on Film Hasta la Victoria Siempre.” Sense of Cinema, sensesofcinema.com/2001/cteq/hasta/.

Wilson, Kristi M. “From Pensioner to Teenager: Everyday Violence in De Sica’s Umberto D and Gaviria’s Rodrigo D: No Future.” Italian neorealism and global cinema, edited by Laura E. Ruberto and Kristi M. Wilson. Wayne State University Press, 2007.

Zavattini, Cesare. “Some Ideas On The Cinema.” Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Stephen Snyder, Howard Curle. University of Toronto Press, 2000.