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Central America's Encounter with U.S. Manifest Destiny, 1848-1860
Michel Gobat, University of Iowa
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-54152-08
"The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race" (Article) [show prizes]
Title: "The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race"
Author: Michel Gobat
Abstract: This essay analyzes how continents are imagined by rethinking the origins and significance of the idea of Latin America. Most scholars assume that French imperialists invented the term in order to justify their country’s occupation of Mexico (1862-1867). In reality, it was first used in 1856 by elites in the region who were protesting U.S. diplomatic recognition of the filibuster regime that William Walker’s band of U.S. expansionists had established in Nicaragua in 1855. “Latin America” was based on elites’ embrace of a transatlantic ideology of whiteness associated with the European concept of a “Latin race.” Nevertheless, the idea of Latin America cannot be reduced to what some scholars consider a form of coloniality. However much “Latin America” rested on racial foundations, it was also imbued with a democratic ethos constructed against U.S. and European expansionism. By showing how “Latin America” resulted from the transnational mobilization of an imperial concept for anti-imperial ends, the article underscores a hidden tension that marked the origins of the idea—a tension that in many ways lives on, as evident in the current debate in the United States over the meaning of Latino/a America. Charting the rise of “Latin America” can help us better understand why certain geopolitical constructions thrive while others fade away.
Primary URL: http://http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/118/5/1345.extract
Periodical Title: American Historical Review