Reclaiming the Political in Latin American History: Essays from the North

Duke University Press
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Reclaiming the Political in Latin American History is a collection that embraces a new social and cultural history of Latin America that is not divorced from politics and other arenas of power. True to the intellectual vision of Brazilian historian Emilia Viotti da Costa, one of Latin America’s most distinguished scholars, the contributors actively revisit the political—as both a theme of historical analysis and a stance for historical practice—to investigate the ways in which power, agency, and Latin American identity have been transformed over the past few decades.
Taking careful stock of the state of historical writing on Latin America, the volume delineates current historiographical frontiers and suggests a series of new approaches that focus on several pivotal themes: the construction of historical narratives and memory; the articulation of class, race, gender, sexuality, and generation; and the historian’s involvement in the making of history. Although the book represents a view of the Latin American political that comes primarily from the North, the influence of Viotti da Costa powerfully marks the contributors’ engagement with Latin America’s past. Featuring a keynote essay by Viotti da Costa herself, the volume’s lively North-South encounter embodies incipient trends of hemispheric intellectual convergence.

Contributors.
Jeffrey L. Gould, Greg Grandin, Daniel James, Gilbert M. Joseph, Thomas Miller Klubock, Mary Ann Mahony, Florencia E. Mallon, Diana Paton, Steve J. Stern, Heidi Tinsman, Emilia Viotti da Costa, Barbara Weinstein
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About the author

Gilbert M. Joseph is Farnam Professor of History and Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University and Editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review. Most recently he has coedited Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.–Latin American Relations and Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico Since 1940, also published by Duke University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Dec 4, 2001
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Pages
388
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ISBN
9780822383260
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Historiography
History / Latin America / General
Political Science / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Over the last decade, studies of the Cold War have mushroomed globally. Unfortunately, work on Latin America has not been well represented in either theoretical or empirical discussions of the broader conflict. With some notable exceptions, studies have proceeded in rather conventional channels, focusing on U.S. policy objectives and high-profile leaders (Fidel Castro) and events (the Cuban Missile Crisis) and drawing largely on U.S. government sources. Moreover, only rarely have U.S. foreign relations scholars engaged productively with Latin American historians who analyze how the international conflict transformed the region’s political, social, and cultural life. Representing a collaboration among eleven North American, Latin American, and European historians, anthropologists, and political scientists, this volume attempts to facilitate such a cross-fertilization. In the process, In From the Cold shifts the focus of attention away from the bipolar conflict, the preoccupation of much of the so-called new Cold War history, in order to showcase research, discussion, and an array of new archival and oral sources centering on the grassroots, where conflicts actually brewed.

The collection’s contributors examine international and everyday contests over political power and cultural representation, focusing on communities and groups above and underground , on state houses and diplomatic board rooms manned by Latin American and international governing elites, on the relations among states regionally, and, less frequently, on the dynamics between the two great superpowers themselves. In addition to charting new directions for research on the Latin American Cold War, In From the Cold seeks to contribute more generally to an understanding of the conflict in the global south.

Contributors. Ariel C. Armony, Steven J. Bachelor, Thomas S. Blanton, Seth Fein, Piero Gleijeses, Gilbert M. Joseph, Victoria Langland, Carlota McAllister, Stephen Pitti, Daniela Spenser, Eric Zolov

Michel Gobat deftly interweaves political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history to analyze the reactions of Nicaraguans to U.S. intervention in their country from the heyday of Manifest Destiny in the mid–nineteenth century through the U.S. occupation of 1912–33. Drawing on extensive research in Nicaraguan and U.S. archives, Gobat accounts for two seeming paradoxes that have long eluded historians of Latin America: that Nicaraguans so strongly embraced U.S. political, economic, and cultural forms to defend their own nationality against U.S. imposition and that the country’s wealthiest and most Americanized elites were transformed from leading supporters of U.S. imperial rule into some of its greatest opponents.

Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.


Latin America experienced an epochal cycle of revolutionary upheavals and insurgencies during the twentieth century, from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 through the mobilizations and terror in Central America, the Southern Cone, and the Andes during the 1970s and 1980s. In his introduction to A Century of Revolution, Greg Grandin argues that the dynamics of political violence and terror in Latin America are so recognizable in their enforcement of domination, their generation and maintenance of social exclusion, and their propulsion of historical change, that historians have tended to take them for granted, leaving unexamined important questions regarding their form and meaning. The essays in this groundbreaking collection take up these questions, providing a sociologically and historically nuanced view of the ideological hardening and accelerated polarization that marked Latin America’s twentieth century. Attentive to the interplay among overlapping local, regional, national, and international fields of power, the contributors focus on the dialectical relations between revolutionary and counterrevolutionary processes and their unfolding in the context of U.S. hemispheric and global hegemony. Through their fine-grained analyses of events in Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, they suggest a framework for interpreting the experiential nature of political violence while also analyzing its historical causes and consequences. In so doing, they set a new agenda for the study of revolutionary change and political violence in twentieth-century Latin America.

Contributors
Michelle Chase
Jeffrey L. Gould
Greg Grandin
Lillian Guerra
Forrest Hylton
Gilbert M. Joseph
Friedrich Katz
Thomas Miller Klubock
Neil Larsen
Arno J. Mayer
Carlota McAllister
Jocelyn Olcott
Gerardo Rénique
Corey Robin
Peter Winn

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