Dia de los Muertos skeletons laughing around a pink skull

Columbia Summer in Mexico City: Colonization and Decolonization

Language of Instruction: English
Mexico City,
Term: Summer

Learn about the effects of colonization and decolonization firsthand in one of the world's most historic and vibrant cities.

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Study firsthand the dynamics of civilizational contact, exchange, and conflict in the the Americas with Columbia faculty. This intensive summer experience will allow students to consider the long-term effects of colonization and decolonization in a direct and impactful way by visiting sites of historical and architectural significance in Mexico City and the region, while studying core disciplinary texts in the classroom.

Program Overview

  • Take a required course for the major or concentration in the Study of Ethnicity and Race in 5 weeks
  • Enhance your reading of core disciplinary texts with related field trips and lectures by intellectuals in Mexico
  • Live in one of the world's most exciting and historic cities with your Columbia peers
  • Earn 4 points of Columbia credit
  • The course can be counted as a seminar in History and Anthropology, and will also fulfill a Global Core requirement

Eligibility and Application

  • Must be a currently enrolled student in Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, the School of General Studies, or Barnard College
  • All students must meet the basic requirements for studying abroad: a 3.0 cumulative GPA and good academic and disciplinary standing in their home school
  • Preference given to CSER majors/concentrators and advanced undergraduates with a demonstrated interest in the topic


Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application” button above. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
    • Personal Statement
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)

NOTE: This program may include an interview process for admission.


Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

CSER W3928: Colonization and Decolonization in the Making of the Modern World. 4 points
This undergraduate seminar examines the processes of colonization and decolonization that define the making of a modern, integrated world (c. 1500 to the present). “Colonization” may refer to any process by which an entity (plant, animal, human society) transfers and establishes itself in an area of a different character. Human societies have migrated and colonized new areas throughout human history, at times to previously uninhabited areas and at times adjoining, displacing or subordinating existing populations. Throughout human history colonization has meant the spread and exchange of cultures, the development of trade networks, war, and the construction and decline of empires.

In this course we focus on the spread of European influence and hegemony throughout the world from the age of discovery in the late fifteenth and sixteenth century to the era of decolonization after World War II and postcolonial realities of the present. We are interested in the processes and contents of social and cultural contact and exchange, the development of knowledge, and how they shape relations of power; the place of colonialism in the development of western capitalism; and the elements of colonial power and resistance, including ideologies of liberal political philosophy, social Darwinism, and nationalism. We will think about how ideas about civilization, religion, self and other, and freedom have evolved over time and shaped the making of the modern world. Class is held as a discussion seminar based on close reading of the primary-source documents.

Academic Schedule


Life in Mexico City


You will live in shared apartments or a hostel near where the class will be held in Coyoacan, a former village now incorporated into the historic core of Mexico City.


No meals are included and there is no meal plan. However, there are grocery stores and markets in the area of where you will be living. Coyoacan has many markets, restaurants and cafes. Casual dining in Mexico City is generally quite inexpensive.

There are several online guides that give information about where to eat in Mexico City. We recommend taking the time to do some research beforehand if you are unsure about what to expect.


You are encouraged to spend time outside of class exploring the city and visiting the many historical and artistic sites.

Daily Living and Schedule



Host University

Established in 1974, the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) is a public institution and one of Mexico’s most important centers of teaching and research for the social sciences. Recognized nationally and internationally, CIDE produces creative, methodologically sound, interdisciplinary research designed to advance scientific knowledge and improve decision-making. Both as a teaching and research center, CIDE is a point of reference in the national academic debate and a key factor in efforts to improve public policy.
CIDE is a small, diverse institution of approximately 400 domestic and international students. It offers undergraduate degrees in economics, law, political science and international relations, and public policy. CIDE also offers masters and doctoral degrees. Most of the academic staff earned their advanced degrees from U.S. universities.
The facilities at the institution include a library, gymnasium, cafeteria, and health services. As a student at CIDE, you will have access to all facilities with your CIDE identification card.


The course will be taught by Professor Claudio Lomnitz. Professor Lomnitz is one of the original authors of the course and has taught it many times.

Claudio Lomnitz is Campbell Family Professor of Anthropology, is a distinguished scholar of Mexico and Latin America. He received his PhD from Stanford in 1987 and taught at NYU, the University of Chicago, and the New School before joining the Columbia faculty in 2006. He is currently Director of the Center for Mexican Studies in the Institute for Latin American Studies, and a core faculty member of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, where he was director from 2006-2009. His research and writing focuses on the history, politics and culture of Latin America, and particularly of Mexico. He is author of Evolución de una sociedad rural (Mexico City, 1982); several books which deal with the history of public culture in Mexico, Exits from the Labyrinth: Culture and Ideology in Mexican National Space (California, 1992), Modernidad Indiana (Mexico City, 1999) and Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism (Minnesota, 2001). His book, Death and the Idea of Mexico (Zone Books, 2005), is a political and cultural history of death in Mexico from the 16th to the 21st centuries. His most recent book The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón (Zone Books, 2014) is about exile, ideology and revolution. He most recently taught Colonization-Decolonization in spring 2016 in Mexico City.

Financial Considerations

Program Fee Summer 2017: $6000
Includes tuition, housing, course-required excursions. SUMMER 2018 coming soon.

Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Program Duration: $1955
Please note that out-of-pocket expenses are estimates and will vary considerably by student.


If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer in Mexico City

For general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Fact Sheet

Language of Instruction:
Mexico City,

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Friday, December 1, 2017
Admissions Decision Date: 
Friday, December 15, 2017
Program Dates: 
Sunday, May 14, 2017 to Saturday, June 17, 2017
Application Deadline: 
Friday, February 9, 2018
Admissions Decision Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Program Dates: 
Sunday, June 10, 2018 to Saturday, July 14, 2018