This course will examine the history of Latin America from the first peoples who crossed the Bering Strait until the beginnings of the independence movements during the first decade of the nineteenth century. The class is divided into three sections. The first third of the class will examine the encounter between Spaniards and Native Americans and the subsequent conquest of the Americas. The second third of the class will examine colonial society. In the final section, we will discuss enslavement and eighteenth-century movements towards independence. We will spend a considerable amount of time analyzing the role of race and gender in Latin American society.