Central America: Historical Perspectives on the Contemporary Crises

Central America: Historical Perspectives on the Contemporary Crises

Central America: Historical Perspectives on the Contemporary Crises

Central America: Historical Perspectives on the Contemporary Crises

Synopsis

"A collection of essays that analyzes the historical antecedents of the current political crises in Central America. The essays provide a balanced interpretation of such themes as international power politics in Central America since the 19th century and the effects of cultural diversity and local interests in preventing the development of enduring political unity and economic integration. Latin Americanists and those interested in international politics at the upper-division undergraduate level and above will value this informative analysis of the volatile region." Choice

Excerpt

Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

During the past decade Central America has become the focus of a great deal of attention from the major powers, the international press, scholars in many disciplines, and the general public. Revolution and political change; confrontation of the superpowers; social and economic disparity and underdevelopment; and diversity of conditions and problems in the city-states of the isthmus are themes that have been pursued in a veritable explosion of works about Central America. Much of this literature has shed new light on the region's problems and their origins. Much of it has been highly polemical, motivated by special interest or passion in the heat of the conflicts there. Still more reflects an appalling ignorance of the region's culture and history, as many outsiders have sought to place Central America in the context of world development without sufficient attention to its unique culture and history.

This volume seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of the Central American crises by looking at several aspects of the region's historical development. It is the product of a 1986 summer seminar, "The Central American Crises in Historical Perspective," sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities at Tulane University under the direction of the editor of this volume. The twelve participants in this volume who participated in the seminar engaged in intensive research and discussion of Central American history and culture. In many cases, they brought years of earlier research in and about Central America with them. In other cases, they brought fresh insights While the majority were historians, the seminar included two anthropologists, a political scientist, and a literature specialist. This diversity gave the seminar a distinctly interdisciplinary quality.

Although these papers do not pretend to embrace the entire history of Central America nor even all the historical aspects of the present crises, they do highlight several themes central to understanding the problems faced on the isthmus today. One is the continuing role of major outside forces on isthmian development. Nearly all of the essays reflect this presence and . . .

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