Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations / Edition 1

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New concerns with the intersections of culture and power, historical agency, and the complexity of social and political life are producing new questions about the United States’ involvement with Latin America. Turning away from political-economic models that see only domination and resistance, exploiters and victims, the contributors to this pathbreaking collection suggest alternate ways of understanding the role that U.S. actors and agencies have played in the region during the postcolonial period.

Exploring a variety of nineteenth- and twentieth-century encounters in Latin America, these theoretically engaged essays by distinguished U.S. and Latin American historians and anthropologists illuminate a wide range of subjects. From the Rockefeller Foundation’s public health initiatives in Central America to the visual regimes of film, art, and advertisements; these essays grapple with new ways of conceptualizing public and private spheres of empire. As such, Close Encounters of Empire initiates a dialogue between postcolonial studies and the long-standing scholarship on colonialism and imperialism in the Americas as it rethinks the cultural dimensions of nationalism and development.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Close Encounters of Empire . . . breaks new ground in how we understand colonialism, power, nation, and historical agency. Rigorously and professionally edited, every chapter is tightly written, clearly argued, and well-researched. - David Sheinin, Canadian Journal of History

“This is an extremely ambitious book and one that does not disappoint. . . . One of Close Encounters of Empire’s central strengths lies in the multiple levels of dialogue established both within and between the fields of history, anthropology, and international relations. . . . [A]n exhilarating and exhausting read. . . . [I]t has much to offer, both theoretically and empirically. . . . [T]his collection signals an evident turn in the historiography and should be a valuable tool at the graduate level.” - Eric Zolov, The Americas

“The studies included in Close Encounters of Empire explain both postcolonial theory approaches and postmodernist interpretations of international relations, at the same time as they explore the possibilities of applying the ‘cultural turn’ to historic relations between the United States and Latin America.” - Lorenzo Delgado, The Journal of American History

“This collection of essays on U.S.-Latin American cultural encounters represents a major advance in the scholarly study of cultural relations. . . . [The] essays make for interesting and stimulating reading in their own right and, as a bonus, raise important issues of conceptualization and methodology. It deserves a wide readership.” - Frank Ninkovich, American Historical Review

“[T]he authors of the essays collected here pose intriguing new research questions for scholars interested in the politics of cultural encounters, greatly enhancing understanding of the complexities of both the local and the foreign in Latin America.” - Kim Clark, American Ethnologist

Close Encounters of Empire is an ambitious attempt to go beyond the traditional binaries of hegemony/subordination, exploitation/domination, external/internal, U.S./Latin American, and so forth. In their stead, some authors of the essays craft new webs of relationships by rereading traditional sources within the paradigms suggested by new cultural history.” - Daniela Spenser, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Close Encounters is an unusual achievement, especially for a collection of essays. Not only does it offer an innovative, imaginative, insightful interrogation of relations between Latin America and the U.S.A., regarded through the lens of the most contemporary of theoretical discourses—it also delivers on a much more difficult objective: to open up a new, critically nuanced perspective on colonialism and postcoloniality, sui generis. A well-balanced mix of the epistemic and the empirical, of conceptual argument and case study, it demands attention from anyone interested in the Americas, anyone concerned with colonialism, anyone preoccupied with postcolonial politics, economy, and culture—anywhere."—John Comaroff, University of Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822320999
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Series: American Encounters/Global Interactions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 1.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert M. Joseph is Farnam Professor of History and Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University.

Catherine C. LeGrand is Associate Professor of History at McGill University.

Ricardo D. Salvatore is Professor of History at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires.

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Table of Contents

I Theoretical Concerns
Close Encounters: Toward a New Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations 3
The Decentered Center and the Expansionist Periphery: The Paradoxes of Foreign-Local Encounter 47
The Enterprise of Knowledge: Representational Machines of Informal Empire 69
II Empirical Studies
Landscape and the Imperial Subject: U.S. Images of the Andes, 1859-1930 107
Love in the Tropics: Marriage, Divorce, and the Construction of Benevolent Colonialism in Puerto Rico, 1898-1910 139
Mercenaries in the Theater of War: Publicity, Technology, and the Illusion of Power during the Brazilian Naval Revolt of 1893 173
The Sandino Rebellion Revisited: Civil War, Imperialism, Popular Nationalism, and State Formation Muddied Up Together in the Segovias of Nicaragua, 1926-1934 208
The Cult of the Airplane among U.S. Military Men and Dominicans during the U.S. Occupation and the Trujillo Regime 269
Central American Encounters with Rockefeller Public Health, 1914-1921 311
Living in Macondo: Economy and Culture in a United Fruit Company Banana Enclave in Colombia 333
From Welfare Capitalism to the Free Market in Chile: Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Copper Mines 369
Everyday Forms of Transnational Collaboration: U.S. Film Propaganda in Cold War Mexico 400
Gringo Chickens with Worms: Food and Nationalism in the Dominican Republic 451
III Final Reflections
Turning to Culture 497
Social Fields and Cultural Encounters 515
From Reading to Seeing: Doing and Undoing Imperialism in the Visual Arts 525
Contributors 557
Index 563
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