Category Archives: Social Sciences

You’ll find domain-specific material designed to meet Common Core Standards in social studies, along with adapted and differentiated materials that deal with a broad array of conceptual knowledge in the social sciences. See the Taxonomies page for more about this category.

Guillermo O’Donnell

“Guillermo O’Donnell: (1936-2011) Argentine political scientist. He earned a law degree in Argentina and a PhD from Yale University. He taught at universities in South America, Europe, and the United States (principally Notre Dame), and has written many books on Latin American authoritarianism and democracy and the transition from one to the other. His pathbreaking analysis of ‘bureaucratic authoritarianism’ as a specific type of military rule found especially in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1980s contributed greatly to the understanding of comparative politics.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Juan Peron

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Juan Peron. And yes, it does mention Eva (“Evita”) Peron, the Argentine dictator’s wife, subject of the West End musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim RIce. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of three sentences and three comprehension questions.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Magic Realism

Magic Realism: (Sp, lo real maravilloso) A term introduced by Alejo Carpentier, in his prologue to El reino do este mundo (1949; tr The Kingdom of This World, 1957). The Cuban novelist was searching for a concept broad enough to accommodate both the events of everyday life and the fabulous nature of Latin American geography and history. Carpentier, who was greatly influenced by French surrealism, saw in magic realism the capacity to enrich our idea of what is ‘real” by incorporating all dimensions of the imagination, particularly as expressed in magic, myth, and religion.

In the hands of [Gabriel] Garcia Marquez and other writers of the Boom period, magic realism became a distinctly Latin American mode, an indigenous style for their explorations of history, culture, and politics. This narrative technique has influenced writers around the world.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

United Fruit Co.

“United Fruit Co.: U.S.-based fruit company. It was founded in 1899 in the merger of the Boston Fruit Company and other companies that sold bananas grown in Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean. Minor C. Keith, its principal founder, gained extensive land rights in Costa Rica in return for constructing railroads. United Fruit became the largest employer in Central America, developing vast tracts of jungle lands and building one of the largest private merchant navies in the world. Attacked in the Latin American press as el pulpo (‘the octopus’), the company was widely accused of exploiting workers and influencing governments during the era of ‘dollar diplomacy’ in the early to mid-20th century. It later policies were more enlightened, and it transferred portions of its landholdings to individual growers. In 1970 United Fruit merged with AMK Corporation to form United Brands Co., which changed its name in 1990 to Chiquita Brands International, Inc.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Third World

I am not entirely at ease publishing this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of the “Third World”  because it is a term that I have always found patronizing at best. Nonetheless, as long as we humans consider “development” the ultimate achievement, then I suppose we will consider “underdeveloped” nations subordinate in rank to the “developed” world–you know, those countries that have allowed their heavy industries to create toxic waste dumps and foul the air with relative impunity.

Happily, this half-page document, which includes a reading of two sentences and two comprehension questions, focuses on the non-aligned (with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which isn’t entirely accurate in any case) character of African, Asian, and Latin American nations.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Mario Vargas Llosa with a Rhetorical Question

“At what precise moment had Peru fucked itself up?”

Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversation in the Cathedral ch. 1 (1969)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Latin America

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the term Latin America. This is a half-page reading with a single-sentence reading and one comprehension question. This is, in other words, a basic definition of the term. It clears up, for the students with whom I use it, any confusion about this simple yet encompassing noun phrase.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Che Guevara

“Che Guevara: originally Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967) Theoretician and tactician of guerilla warfare and prominent figure in Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba (1956-59). Born to a middle-class family in Argentina, he completed medical studies in 1953 and subsequently traveled widely in Latin America, eventually settling in Guatemala. The overthrow of Guatemala’s President Jacobo Arbenz persuaded him that the U.S. would always oppose leftist governments and that only violent revolution would end the poverty of the Latin American masses. He left Guatemala for Mexico, where he met Castro and joined his cause. After the Cuban revolution he held several posts as one of Castro’s most trusted aides; handsome and charismatic, he served as one of the revolution’s most effective voices. He left Cuba in 1965 to organize guerilla fighters in the Congo and later Bolivia. Captured and shot by the Bolivian army, he immediately achieved international fame and the status of a martyred hero among leftists worldwide.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Taino

“Taino: Arawak Indians of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. They also inhabited Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of Cuba. The grew cassava and corn, hunted birds and small animals, and fished. They were skillful at working stone and wood. Their society consisted of three tiers—nobles, commoners, and slaves—and they were ruled by hereditary chiefs and subchiefs. Their religious beliefs centered on a hierarchy of nature spirits and ancestors. They became extinct within 100 years of the Spanish conquest.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Ponce de Leon

Here is Cultural Literacy worksheet on Juan Ponce de Leon. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of two sentences and three comprehension (two of them together on one line) questions. This is the conquistador who went to Florida in search of the (or a?) fountain of youth.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.