Making an Inter-American Mind

Making an Inter-American Mind

Making an Inter-American Mind

Making an Inter-American Mind

Excerpt

The three-way cultural kinship of the Latin American, Iberian, and North American segments of the Atlantic world is a permanent part of the intellectual history of the Western Hemisphere. It existed, and exists, alongside the geographic factor by which the southwestern and southeastern United States were discovered, entered, and settled by Spain. These two parallel contacts, studious and physical, place the whole inter-American tradition within the United States upon these twin pillars of history.

The Eastern seaboard, lacking any Hispanic influence of place- names, language, and settled places, created original intellectual efforts which carried across ocean and sea to Old Spain or the New World. These ties were man-made. In the "Old Southwest," on the other hand, the heritage and speech of Spain lay in the sun, waiting to be found, tasted, and acculturated, while Spain fell into shadow. In old New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, crossing over to another culture was a bold journey to the frontier of ideas, quite different from the frontier of physical contact.

I have carried my interest in cultural history and contact down to 1900--the point where organized teaching, monied foundations, and early government and inter-American government interest also arrived at the rediscovery of the Americas. But first the pioneer road carried American scholars and scientists, acting as individuals and not associated with any council of learned societies. Organization, like mass media, came after 1900 and conveyed additional messages. It might at some time be possible to carry the story of greater growth and enlargement of this inter-American school for study down to 1960, adding newer factors of theatre, moving picture, radio, television, information, propaganda, education. But first of all this is a history of precedents and patterns.

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