This landmark volume of Latin American history weaves the history of an entire region into a coherent story that emphasizes both common themes and regional and national specificity. This unique volume provides an interpretive history of Modern Latin America with a focus on the central dynamic of Latin American history—the enigma of poor people inhabiting rich lands. The Seventh Edition has been updated and modernized to reflect recent research, interpretations and developments. This volume addresses the origins of a multiracial society, the institutions of empire, independence, the emergence of the modern state, new actors on an old stage, world war to cold war issues, the revolutionary option and modern problems. For Historians and those interested in a concise analysis of Latin American history.
New edition of a standard work that explores some of the major forces that, through time, have shaped this region. Emphasis is on the Latin American's impulse to change. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to train with E. Bradford Burns at the University of California, Los Angeles. I was among the last of his graduate students: He signed my dissertation in August 1995 and died that December. I have missed him terribly, especially as I have taught this text and wished that we could continue our long talks and often heated debates about Latin America. Prentice Hall's invitation to revise the book was simultaneously flattering and daunting. It is an honor to try to carry on the Burns tradition, but it also seems presumptuous to rewrite one's mentor. I was aided in the task, however, by Professor Burns's own sage advice to me years ago: "It is the job of each generation of scholars to revise the previous generation." I am taking him at his word.
This book remains a landmark in the teaching of Latin American history. It is a narrative that weaves the history of an entire region into a coherent story that emphasizes both common themes and regional and national specificity; it thus breaks away from the old tradition of marching through the separate stories of various countries in the region. Most importantly, the narrative is grounded in Professor Burns's sharp, succinct analysis of the central dynamic of Latin American history: the enigma of "poor people inhabiting rich-lands" because the region's elites have "tended to confuse their own well-being and desires with those of the nation at large." I find that analysis to be as on target today as it was in 1972, when the first edition of this text was published.
When it first appeared, the textbook also was the first to adopt the perspective of dependency theory, which came to dominate the debateabout Latin American development until the 1990s. It has become quite fashionable at the end of the millennium to dismiss the dependency school, laughing at its naivete. But as Robert A. Packenham argues in The Dependency Movement: Scholarship and Politics in Development Studies, "reports of the death of the dependency movement are premature." Packenham describes the 1991 World Congress of the International Political Science Association meeting in Buenos Aires, at which dependency authors restated their supposedly dated views to enthusiastic applause and even a standing ovation. Indeed, it can be argued that Latin America is more dependent than ever before.
There have been many critiques of dependency theory, from within the wide-ranging dependentista camp itself, between classical Marxists and dependentistas, and between modernization advocates and dependency theorists. Some of the more simplistic versions of dependency theory did seem to reduce Latin American relations to an "us" and "them" dynamic, ignoring the role of Latin American elites. At times the elites were seen as mere lackeys of the developed countries, rather than a dominant class with its own agenda within Latin America. Dependency theorists who predicted that no real change could take place within the structure of Latin American economies were confronted by examples such as Brazil, which combined the state, the private sector, and foreign interests in an extensive process of industrialization and changed from a primary-product exporter to a regional power in manufacturing. Some dependentistas, Burns among them, advocated a virtual withdrawal from the world market and a return to a more simple life, in which domestic goods would suffice.
Many of those debates do indeed seem outmoded today. Certainly solutions that called for near autarky seem unrealistic amid today's relentless onslaught of globalization. Nonetheless, the basic description provided by dependency theory still holds true: The mere equation of growth with development is erroneous. The rise in gross national product, if it is not redistributed, benefits only a tiny percentage of the population. Latin America still suffers from the world's most inequitable distribution of wealth, a condition that has only worsened in the past two decades. And changes in Latin America's economy are still conditioned by the drive and direction of the more industrialized world, albeit with the full cooperation and at times initiation of regional elites. Because those conditions still hold true, the use of dependency in this text remains instructive.
Much of the theoretical community has moved on to contemplate ideas of post-modernism, discourse, and the subaltern. At their worst, some of these approaches have fastened on the uses of language at the risk of ignoring the very real material conditions that exist in Latin America. At their best, these approaches have helped us to think about the multivariant roles people play, of shifting class and power positions, and the ways in which gender, race, and ethnicity have interacted with class. In many ways, Professor Burns's work presaged these developments, especially in his emphasis on the ways in which the "folk" struggled to maintain their cultures and resist the imposition of the elite vision—or as scholars may put it today, the ways in which the subaltern struggled against the dominant discourse. What is most important is not to worry so much about the labels, but keep a keen eye on what we are describing.
While I have retained the general dependentista description, I have, however, revised the text quite extensively, updating it with more recent research and adding my own interpretation of the history. I am grateful to Thomas Whigham for helping me reconsider the case of Paraguay, which had been featured as a prime example of autonomous development. Newer scholarship questions the benefits to the majority of the Paraguayan model and casts doubts on Dr. Francia as a "folk" caudillo. Rather than detail these changes, I have simply opted to remove Paraguay from the discussion. I also have endeavored to weave women's roles throughout the text, rather than relegating them to one chapter. In addition to updating the material, I have rearranged it to suit my own idiosyncratic view of the logic of the narrative, following the way I have taught the material for the past eight years. I have added several primary documents to each chapter to strengthen the voice of Latin Americans in the telling of their history. Most importantly, I have tried to preserve Professor Burns's voice, while blending it with my own.
I owe a debt of thanks to those who have advised me on this project, especially Thomas Holloway, Steven Topik, Hector Lindo Fuentes, James Green, and Enrique Ochoa. I am thankful to Whitman College for a Louis B. Perry Summer Research Scholarship, which enabled me to hire Valarie Hamm and Mollie Lewis, who helped me enormously in the review of new scholarship on Latin America. Most of all I thank my husband, Charly Bloomquist, and my daughter, Delaney, who put up with my long hours of work and provided me with love and support.