Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism

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An eye-opening examination of Latin America's role as proving ground for U.S. imperial strategies and tactics

In recent years, one book after another has sought to take the measure of the Bush administration's aggressive foreign policy. In their search for precedents, they invoke the Roman and British empires as well as postwar reconstructions of Germany and Japan. Yet they consistently ignore the one place where the United States had its most formative imperial experience: Latin America.

A brilliant excavation of a long-obscured history, Empire's Workshop is the first book to show how Latin America has functioned as a laboratory for American extraterritorial rule. Historian Greg Grandin follows the United States' imperial operations, from Thomas Jefferson's aspirations for an "empire of liberty" in Cuba and Spanish Florida, to Ronald Reagan's support for brutally oppressive but U.S.-friendly regimes in Central America. He traces the origins of Bush's policies to Latin America, where many of the administration's leading lights—John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich—first embraced the deployment of military power to advance free-market economics and first enlisted the evangelical movement in support of their ventures.

With much of Latin America now in open rebellion against U.S. domination, Grandin concludes with a vital question: If Washington has failed to bring prosperity and democracy to Latin America—its own backyard "workshop"—what are the chances it will do so for the world?

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About the author

Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, Empire's Workshop, The Last Colonial Massacre, and the award-winning The Blood of Guatemala. An associate professor of Latin American history at New York University, and a Guggenheim fellow, Grandin has served on the United Nations Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New Statesman, and The New York Times.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Metropolitan Books
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Published on
May 2, 2006
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781429959155
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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At the end of the nineteenth century the United States swiftly occupied a string of small islands dotting the Caribbean and Western Pacific, from Puerto Rico and Cuba to Hawaii and the Philippines. Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State reveals how this experiment in direct territorial rule subtly but profoundly shaped U.S. policy and practice—both abroad and, crucially, at home. Edited by Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano, the essays in this volume show how the challenge of ruling such far-flung territories strained the U.S. state to its limits, creating both the need and the opportunity for bold social experiments not yet possible within the United States itself. Plunging Washington’s rudimentary bureaucracy into the white heat of nationalist revolution and imperial rivalry, colonialism was a crucible of change in American statecraft. From an expansion of the federal government to the creation of agile public-private networks for more effective global governance, U.S. empire produced far-reaching innovations.
Moving well beyond theory, this volume takes the next step, adding a fine-grained, empirical texture to the study of U.S. imperialism by analyzing its specific consequences. Across a broad range of institutions—policing and prisons, education, race relations, public health, law, the military, and environmental management—this formative experience left a lasting institutional imprint. With each essay distilling years, sometimes decades, of scholarship into a concise argument, Colonial Crucible reveals the roots of a legacy evident, most recently, in Washington’s misadventures in the Middle East.
How could the United States, a nation founded on the principles of liberty and equality, have produced Abu Ghraib, torture memos, Plamegate, and warrantless wiretaps? Did America set out to become an empire? And if so, how has it reconciled its imperialism--and in some cases, its crimes--with the idea of liberty so forcefully expressed in the Declaration of Independence? Empire for Liberty tells the story of men who used the rhetoric of liberty to further their imperial ambitions, and reveals that the quest for empire has guided the nation's architects from the very beginning--and continues to do so today.

Historian Richard Immerman paints nuanced portraits of six exceptional public figures who manifestly influenced the course of American empire: Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, William Henry Seward, Henry Cabot Lodge, John Foster Dulles, and Paul Wolfowitz. Each played a pivotal role as empire builder and, with the exception of Adams, did so without occupying the presidency. Taking readers from the founding of the republic to the Global War on Terror, Immerman shows how each individual's influence arose from a keen sensitivity to the concerns of his times; how the trajectory of American empire was relentless if not straight; and how these shrewd and powerful individuals shaped their rhetoric about liberty to suit their needs.


But as Immerman demonstrates in this timely and provocative book, liberty and empire were on a collision course. And in the Global War on Terror and the occupation of Iraq, they violently collided.

The bestselling author of Overthrow and The Brothers brings to life the forgotten political debate that set America’s interventionist course in the world for the twentieth century and beyond.

How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat—until the cycle begins again.

No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country.

Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer transports us to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation.

The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before—in the period when the United States was founded—have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity.

All Americans, regardless of political perspective, can take inspiration from the titans who faced off in this epic confrontation. Their words are amazingly current. Every argument over America’s role in the world grows from this one. It all starts here.

Since the early nineteenth century, the United States has repeatedly intervened in the affairs of Latin American nations to pursue its own interests and to “protect” those countries from other imperial powers or from internal “threats.” The resentment and opposition generated by the encroachment of U.S. power has been evident in the recurrent attempts of Latin American nations to pull away from U.S. dominance and in the frequent appearance of popular discontent and unrest directed against imperialist U.S. policies. In Empire and Dissent, senior Latin Americanists explore the interplay between various dimensions of imperial power and the resulting dissent and resistance.

Several essays provide historical perspective on contemporary U.S.–hemispheric relations. These include an analysis of the nature and dynamics of imperial domination, an assessment of financial relations between the United States and Latin America since the end of World War II, an account of Native American resistance to colonialism, and a consideration of the British government’s decision to abolish slavery in its colonies. Other essays focus on present-day conflicts in the Americas, highlighting various modes of domination and dissent, resistance and accommodation. Examining southern Mexico’s Zapatista movement, one contributor discusses dissent in the era of globalization. Other contributors investigate the surprisingly conventional economic policies of Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Argentina’s recovery from its massive 2001 debt default; the role of coca markets in the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales; and the possibilities for extensive social change in Venezuela. A readers’ guide offers a timeline of key events from 1823 through 2007, along with a list of important individuals, institutions, and places.

Contributors: Daniel A. Cieza, Gregory Evans Dowd, Steve Ellner, Neil Harvey, Alan Knight, Carlos Marichal, John Richard Oldfield, Silvia Rivera, Fred Rosen, Jeffrey W. Rubin

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.

Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford's early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia's eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.

More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.
Fordlandia is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

The powerful, untold story of the 1950 revolution in Puerto Rico and the long history of U.S. intervention on the island, that the New York Times says "could not be more timely."In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress this uprising, the US Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the US government bombed its own citizens.

Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.

Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico's history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.
Political science has had trouble generating models that unify the study of the formation and consolidation of various types of states and empires. The business-administration literature, however, has long experience in observing organizations. According to a dominant model in this field, business firms generally take one of two forms: unitary (U) or multidivisional (M). The U-form organizes its various elements along the lines of administrative functions, whereas the M-form governs its periphery according to geography and territory.

In Logics of Hierarchy, Alexander Cooley applies this model to political hierarchies across different cultures, geographical settings, and historical eras to explain a variety of seemingly disparate processes: state formation, imperial governance, and territorial occupation. Cooley illustrates the power of this formal distinction with detailed accounts of the experiences of Central Asian republics in the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and compares them to developments in the former Yugoslavia, the governance of modern European empires, Korea during and after Japanese occupation, and the recent U.S. occupation of Iraq.

In applying this model, Logics of Hierarchy reveals the varying organizational ability of powerful states to promote institutional transformation in their political peripheries and the consequences of these formations in determining pathways of postimperial extrication and state-building. Its focus on the common organizational problems of hierarchical polities challenges much of the received wisdom about imperialism and postimperialism.

Over the latter half of the twentieth century, the Guatemalan state slaughtered more than two hundred thousand of its citizens. In the wake of this violence, a vibrant pan-Mayan movement has emerged, one that is challenging Ladino (non-indigenous) notions of citizenship and national identity. In The Blood of Guatemala Greg Grandin locates the origins of this ethnic resurgence within the social processes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century state formation rather than in the ruins of the national project of recent decades.
Focusing on Mayan elites in the community of Quetzaltenango, Grandin shows how their efforts to maintain authority over the indigenous population and secure political power in relation to non-Indians played a crucial role in the formation of the Guatemalan nation. To explore the close connection between nationalism, state power, ethnic identity, and political violence, Grandin draws on sources as diverse as photographs, public rituals, oral testimony, literature, and a collection of previously untapped documents written during the nineteenth century. He explains how the cultural anxiety brought about by Guatemala’s transition to coffee capitalism during this period led Mayan patriarchs to develop understandings of race and nation that were contrary to Ladino notions of assimilation and progress. This alternative national vision, however, could not take hold in a country plagued by class and ethnic divisions. In the years prior to the 1954 coup, class conflict became impossible to contain as the elites violently opposed land claims made by indigenous peasants.
This “history of power” reconsiders the way scholars understand the history of Guatemala and will be relevant to those studying nation building and indigenous communities across Latin America.

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