Latin America and the Origins of Its Twenty-First Century

Latin America and the Origins of Its Twenty-First Century

Latin America and the Origins of Its Twenty-First Century

Latin America and the Origins of Its Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

Depicts the transformation of Latin America from a region governed by oligarchies to one dominated by multinational corporations.

Excerpt

Latin America’s complexities require a scheme of interpretation rather than an encyclopedic listing of qualities. The scheme of this work grows out of teaching the field for over thirty-six years. In that time, I have taught numerous national histories, although most of my courses involved the region’s major nations: Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Topical courses focused on urbanization, U.S. behavior in the region, and dictators. Even so, writing this work has been a learning experience for me: a means of revisiting topics that had accumulated mounds of new research and exploring those required for the coherence of the work’s arguments. This is not a survey, and many topics and issues of importance have been omitted. An interpretation must have a theme, and this one focuses on power and the Latin American people who have developed and endured its uses over the last century and a half.

Power seems a tricky subject, but it is fairly straightforward. It is also somewhat old-fashioned in the American academic world because the social sciences broke it down into discussions of “fields” and “variables.” Although this work does summarize various approaches to the subject of Latin American history, it takes a broad view of how the region has emerged from the twentieth century. It stresses elements internal to the region—its political forms, shared cultural values, racial disparities, and the grotesquely uneven distribution of wealth and income. Power, as seen here, also has a form, and its principal geographic arrangement is the city, especially those centers of authority and commerce that became in the course of the . . .

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