SemesterFall Semester, 2019
DepartmentInternational Doctor Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, Second Year
Course NameLatin American Governments & Politics
InstructorSU YEN-PIN
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Class Schedule

Week 1 (9/11): Introduction: (Learning hours: 4)

Organization of the Course Schedule; Some Lessons from Latin America for the Research on Comparative Politics; Formalities for Academic Writing; Registering for a Turnitin account


Week 2 (9/18): Basics for Understanding Quantitative Research: (Learning hours: 4)

How to Write a Critical Literature Review Assignment; Research Topics; Explanatory vs. Descriptive Research Questions; Literature Review and Research Problematique; Variables; Measurements; Hypotheses; Statistical Results; First critical review assignment (see below)

  1. Escobar-Lemmon, Maria, and Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson. 2005. “Women Ministers in Latin American Government: When, Where, and Why?” American Journal of Political Science 49 (4): 829-844.

Week 3 (9/25): Basics for Developing a Research Design for Studies of Comparative Politics: (Learning hours: 4)

Elements of a Well-Structured Research Design; Research Puzzle (causes vs. consequences); Hypothesis Building; Research Strategies (theory, data, method); Case Selection; Map quiz in class!


Week 4 (10/2): Regime Change (I): Historical Legacies; Economic Effects; International Forces (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Pérez-Liñán, Aníbal and Scott Mainwaring. 2013. “Regime Legacies and Levels of Democracy: Evidence from Latin America.” Comparative Politics 45(4): 379-397.

  2. Landman, Todd. 1999. “Economic Development and Democracy: The View from Latin America.” Political Studies 47(4): 607-626.

  3. Schenoni, Luis L., and Scott Mainwaring. 2019. “US Hegemony and Regime Change in Latin America.” Democratization 26(2): 269-287.


Week 5 (10/9): Regime Change (II): Elites; Church; Social Movements (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Madrid, Raúl. 2019. “Opposition Parties and the Origins of Democracy in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 51(2): 151-178.

  2. Gill, Anthony J. 1994. “Rendering unto Caesar? Religious Competition and Catholic Political Strategy in Latin America, 1962-79.” American Journal of Political Science 38(2): 403-425.

  3. Wood, Elizabeth Jean. 2001. “An Insurgent Path to Democracy: Popular Mobilization, Economic Interests, and Regime Transition in South Africa and El Salvador.” Comparative Political Studies 34(8): 862-888.


Week 6 (10/16): Challenges for Democracies (I): Populism, Coups, Impeachments (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Doyle, David. 2011. “The Legitimacy of Political Institutions: Explaining Contemporary Populism in Latin America.” Comparative Political Studies 44(11): 1447-1473.

  2. Houle, Christian and Paul D. Kenny. 2018. “The Political and Economic Consequences of Populist Rule in Latin America.” Government and Opposition 53(2): 256-287.

  3. Pérez-Liñán, Aníbal and John Polga-Hecimovich. 2017. “Explaining Military Coups and Impeachments in Latin America.” Democratization 24(5): 839-858..


Week 7 (10/23): Challenges for Democracies (II): Transitional Justice; Inequality; Corruption (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Albertus, Michael. 2019. “The Fate of Former Authoritarian Elites Under Democracy.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 63(3): 727-759.

  2. Pribble, Jennifer, Evelyne Huber, and John D. Stephens. 2009. “Politics, Policies, and Poverty in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 41(4): 387-407.

  3. Tyburski, Michael D. 2012. “The Resource Curse Reversed? Remittances and Corruption in Mexico.” International Studies Quarterly 56(2): 339-350.


Week 8 (10/30): Political Institutions (I): Executives, Legislatures, and Judiciary (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Pérez-Liñán, Aníbal, Nicolás Schmidt, and Daniela Vairo. 2019. “Presidential Hegemony and Democratic Backsliding in Latin America, 1925–2016.” Democratization 26(4): 606-625.

  2. Shair-Rosenfield, Sarah and Alissandra T. Stoyan. 2017. “Constraining Executive Action: The Role of Legislator Professionalization in Latin America.” Governance 30(2): 301-319.

  3. Llanos, Mariana, Cordula Tibi Weber, Charlotte Heyl, and Alexander Stroh. 2016. “Informal Interference in the Judiciary in New democracies: a Comparison of Six African and Latin American Cases.” Democratization 23(7): 1236-1253.


Week 9 (11/6): Political Institutions (II): Decentralization and Subnational Politics (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Gervasoni, Carlos. 2010. “A Rentier Theory of Subnational Regimes: Fiscal Federalism, Democracy, and Authoritarianism in the Argentine Provinces.” World Politics 62(2): 302-340.

  2. Eaton, Kent. 2014. “Recentralization and the Left Turn in Latin America Diverging Outcomes in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.” Comparative Political Studies 47(8): 1130-1157.

  3. Goldfrank, Benjamin. 2007. “The Politics of Deepening Local Democracy: Decentralization, Party Institutionalization, and Participation.” Comparative Politics 39(2): 147-168.


Week 10 (11/13): Political Institution (III): Political Parties and Party Systems (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Burgess, Katrina and Steven Levitsky. 2003. “Explaining Populist Party Adaptation in Latin America: Environmental and Organizational Determinants of Party Change in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.” Comparative Political Studies 36(8): 881-911.

  2. Su, Yen-Pin. 2015. “Party Registration Rules and Party Systems in Latin America.” Party Politics 21(2): 295-308.

  3. Su, Yen-Pin. 2018. “Personal Vote, Spatial Registration Rules, and Party System Nationalization in Latin America.” International Political Science Review 39(2): 192-208.


Week 11 (11/20): Political Institutions (IV): Institutional Change (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Negretto, Gabriel L. 2012. “Replacing and Amending Constitutions: The Logic of Constitutional Change in Latin America.” Law & Society Review 46(4): 749-779.

  2. González, Yanilda. 2019. “The Social Origins of Institutional Weakness and Change: Preferences, Power, and Police Reform in Latin America.” World Politics 71(1): 44-87.

  3. Wills-Otero, Laura. 2009. “Electoral Systems in Latin America: Explaining the Adoption of Proportional Representation Systems during the Twentieth Century.” Latin American Politics and Society 51(3): 33-58.


Week 12 (11/27): Political Behavior (I): Electoral Participation (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Murillo, María Victoria, Virginia Oliveros, and Milan Vaishnav. 2010. “Electoral Revolution or Democratic Alternation?” Latin American Research Review 45 (3): 87-114.

  2. Carreras, Miguel, and Yasemin Irepoglu. 2013. “Trust in Elections, Vote Buying, and Turnout in Latin America.” Electoral Studies 32(4): 609-619.

  3. Valdini, Melody E., and  Michael S. Lewis?Beck. 2018. “Economic Voting in Latin America: Rules and Responsibility.” American Journal of Political Science 62(2): 410-423.


Week 13 (12/4): Political Behavior (II): Public Opinion and Political Culture (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Singer, Matthew. 2018. “Delegating Away Democracy: How Good Representation and Policy Successes Can Undermine Democratic Legitimacy.” Comparative Political Studies 51(3): 1754-1788.

  2. Wood, Charles H., Chris L. Gibson, Ludmila Ribeiro, and Paula Hamsho?Diaz. 2010. “Crime Victimization in Latin America and Intentions to Migrate to the United States.” International Migration Review 44(1): 3-24.

  3. Baker, Andy, and David Cupery. 2013. “Anti-Americanism in Latin America: Economic Exchange, Foreign Policy Legacies, and Mass Attitudes toward the Colossus of the North.” Latin American Research Review 48(2): 106-130.


Week 14 (12/11): Gender; Religiosity; Ethnicity (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Funk, Kendall D., Magda Hinojosa, and Jennifer M. Piscopo. Forthcoming. “Women to the Rescue: The Gendered Effects of Public Discontent on Legislative Nominations in Latin America.” Party Politics (

  2. Dion, Michelle L., and Jordi Díez. 2017. “Democratic Values, Religiosity, and Support for Same-Sex Marriage in Latin America.” Latin American Politics and Society 59(4): 75-98.

  3. Vogt, Manuel. 2016. “A New Dawn? Indigenous Movements and Ethnic Inclusion in Latin America.” International Studies Quarterly 60(4): 790–801.


Week 15 (12/18): Political Economy (I): Economic Development; Market Reforms (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Kay, Cristóbal. 2002. “Why East Asia Overtook Latin America: Agrarian Reform, Industrialisation and Development.” Third World Quarterly 23 (6): 1073-1102.

  2. Biglaiser, Glen. 2016. “Mandate and the Market: Policy Outcomes under the Left in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 48(2): 185-204.

  3. Bellinger, Paul T., and Moises Arce. 2011. “Protest and Democracy in Latin America’s Market Era.” Political Research Quarterly 64 (3):688-704.


Week 16 (12/25): Political Economy (II): Latin America and China (Learning hours: 4)


  1. Flores-Macías, Gustavo A., and Sarah E. Kreps. 2013. “The Foreign Policy Consequences of Trade: China’s Commercial Relations with Africa and Latin America, 1992–2006.” Journal of Politics 75(2): 357-371.

  2. Su, Yen-Pin and Oscar René Vargas Delgado. 2017. “Is China Becoming a Hegemonic Challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean? A Political Economy Analysis of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal Project.” Issues & Studies 53(1): 1740002-1–1740002-32.

  3. Urdinez, Francisco, Fernando Mouron, Luis L. Schenoni, and Amâncio J. de Oliveira. 2016. “Chinese Economic Statecraft and U.S. Hegemony in Latin America: An Empirical Analysis, 2003–2014. Latin American Politics and Society 58(4): 3-30.


Week 17 (1/1): New Year’s Day


Week 18 (1/8): Brief Research Design Presentations (Learning hours: 4)


Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

Evaluation and Requirements

Weekly critical review assignments


Format editing assignment (due 5 p.m., 9/17)


Map quiz with country information (in class 9/25)


Dataset building and empirical analyses assignment (due 5 p.m., 11/19)


Final paper (discuss with instructor before 12/25; paper due 5 p.m., 1/7)


Class participation (including current event reports)



  1. Weekly Critical Review Assignments. Every student will upload the first critical review assignment to Moodle before 5 p.m. on 9/24. From Week 4 to Week 16, students must upload AT LEAST ONE assignment for each week to Moodle. Assuming that you upload at least one assignment for each week, each assignment is worth up to 2.5 points; therefore, if you complete 24 excellent assignments, you are likely to get 60 full points. In general, the more assignments that you upload, the more likely that you will get 60 full points. However, your total points for this component will be reduced 2.5 points for each “missed” week. So, it is possible that you write more than 24 excellent assignments but still cannot get 60 full points if you fail to upload assignments for several weeks.

Each assignment MUST be done following the template below:


(a) The general research question

(b) The more specific research question(s)

(c) Testable hypotheses and the theoretical mechanisms behind these hypotheses

(d) Unit of analysis, conception of dependent variable(s), conceptions of independent variables

(e) Data sources for dependent variable(s) and independent variables

(f) Methodology

(g) Research design strategy

(h) Critical analysis (see below for details)


Students must provide answers section-by-section. For section (a), it must be in a form of question (with a question mark), NOT a summary statement. The difference between a general research question (section (a)) and a specific question (section (b)) is that the former focuses on the variation in the dependent variable in a general way, while the latter mentions specific research scope (cases and time span), major explanatory variables, and the dependent variable.


In the first part of the critical analysis, students should briefly summarize the finding. Then, praise for the reviewed article (e.g., what contribution that this work can make). Next, students should provide critical comments and questions. Thoughts for critiques include, but is not limited to: Is the work theoretically or empirically interesting for other cases? Is the transfer of theory to empirics reasonable? How well are the concepts measured? Is the causal relation between variables reasonable? Are there other alternative explanations that are not considered? Is the theory applicable for comparative work? How reliable are the data? What are the pros and cons of the methodology used by the author(s)? Are the results surprising? Is there any direction suggested by the study for future researchers?


In your assignment, please include your name and the reference for the article for your critical review on the top, and insert page numbers at the bottom. The format of an assignment must be: 1) in PDF format; 3) 12-point font; 4) single-spaced; and 5) with moderate margins. The length of the assignment should be 800-1200 words in total, with at least one-third (33%) of the content being the critical analysis. The assignments must be posted to Moodle by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Your points will be lowered for each late post or incomplete post. Also, you will get a low grade if you fail to follow the abovementioned requirements for doing your assignments.


In-Class Presentation: In each week, a number of students will be responsible for in-class presentations based on their critical review assignments for the assigned readings (the presentation schedule will be announced after the class of Week 3). The presenters can use PowerPoint or simply use their assignments for presentations. Each presentation must be no longer than 20 minutes. The presenters must lead the discussions. Note: If you use PowerPoint presentation, you still need to upload your assignment (PDF format). Do not upload your PowerPoint file to replace your assignment.


  1. Format Editing Assignment (due 5 p.m. 9/17). You will edit a file (see Moodle) to ensure the format style for the citations and references strictly complied with the APSA Style Manual ( If the editing is totally accurate, you will get 5 points. Your score will be deducted by 1 point for each error until you lose all the 5 points.

  2. Map quiz with country information (in class 9/25). In this map quiz, you will answer questions about country names, national capitals, current presidents and their affiliated parties, in each of the 20 Latin American countries.

  3. Dataset building and bivariate analyses assignment (due 5 p.m. 11/19). In this assignment, you will build a dataset based on Pippa Norris’ Democracy Time-Series Data Release 3.0. Your first task is to select 18 Latin American countries and three variables: GDP_UN, Banksmediascale, and SecEducUN. Next, make two x-y plot graphs and conduct an OLS regression analysis using Excel. Visit Moodle for more details.

  4. Final paper (discuss with instructor before 12/25; paper due 5 p.m., 1/7). In the final paper, you will build your own research plan based on a particular publication (you can select one article from this syllabus or select a publication by yourself under my permission). Your task is to use a research strategy that is different from the original research design of the selected publication. Please organize your assignment in four sections (see below):


I. Introduction. First, specify what publication that you refer for writing this final paper. Next, specify your research question and discuss the importance of addressing this research question.


II. Literature Review and Hypotheses.  First, do a short review of the existing literature. Second, choose an existing theory or construct a new theory that addresses your research question, and discuss the theoretical mechanisms. Third, propose testable hypotheses for your research plan.


III. Research Design. First, specify the unit of analysis, dependent variable, independent variables, and control variables for the empirical analysis. Second, discuss the research scope (cases, time span, etc.) that you will focus on. Third, discuss the measurement and data sources for the variables. Finally, discuss the methodology that you will use for the empirical analysis.


IV. Research Strategy. First, write a short summary about your research strategy in terms of theory, data, and method. Second, discuss how your research strategy differs from the publication that you choose here. Third, discuss how your research strategy could make contribution to the existing literature.


In the final paper, please write your name, insert page numbers for the paper, and make sure that you provide citations and bibliography/references that follow the APSA format style. The format of this paper must be: 1) in PDF format; 3) 12-point font; 4) single-spaced; and 5) with moderate margins. The length of the paper should be 3000-4000 words in total. Every student has to make a in-class presentation for the final papers on January 8.


  1. Class participation. For each weekly class meeting from Week 4 to Week 16, one student will be assigned for giving a three-minute current event reports about Latin American countries in the beginning of the class (the instructor will make the schedule after the class of Week 3).


In every class meeting, I will make sure that EVERY student talks to provide comments and ask questions based on the critical review assignments. To facilitate the class discussion, please have your assignments at hand. Being unable to recall what you have written in your assignment will seriously affect your grade because it is not only unprofessional, but also a sign of cheating. Students who fail to participate actively will get a low score on this component.


Textbook & Reference

Course Materials

All required readings for this course can be downloaded for free on NCCU Libraries Discovery Services System ( using NCCU’s WIFI or VPN (off campus).


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