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Negotiating Paradise

U.S. Tourism and Empire in Twentieth-Century Latin America

Dennis Merrill

Publication Year: 2009

Accounts of U.S. empire building in Latin America typically portray politically and economically powerful North Americans descending on their southerly neighbors to engage in lopsided negotiations. Dennis Merrill's comparative history of U.S. tourism in Latin America in the twentieth century demonstrates that empire is a more textured, variable, and interactive system of inequality and resistance than commonly assumed.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. xi-xvi

I have enjoyed good-natured ribbing from friends. Brows furrowed, they ask, ‘‘The history of tourism? And where do you do your research?’’ I honestly can’t say that I have endured hardship on my research trips, but it has been immensely challenging to mine multilingual archives, to...

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Introduction: Mass Tourism, Empire, and Soft Power

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pp. 1-27

This book examines how tourists armed with suntan lotion, maps, golf shirts, straw hats, cameras, and swimsuits extended the U.S. presence in twentieth-century Latin America and helped internationalize U.S. culture. The massive U.S. influence in Latin America is...

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1. Lone Eagles and Revolutionaries: The U.S.-Mexican Rapprochement of the 1920s

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pp. 29-64

President Plutarco Elías Calles and U.S. ambassador Dwight W. Morrow chatted nervously to pass the time. The throng of onlookers scanned the sky above Mexico City’s Balbuena airfield, hoping to glimpse a descending dot in the mid-December sky. Charles Lindbergh’s plane...

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2. Containment and Good Neighbors: Tourism and Empire in 1930s Mexico

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pp. 65-102

The banquet room of the swank Hotel Regis did not seem a likely place for talk of war in early 1934. For the gathering of California businessmen and their spouses, the trip to sunny Mexico City provided relief from the dreary February cold that had gripped the homeland. The...

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3. The Safe Bet: Batista’s Cuba

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pp. 103-140

The crowded casino of the stately Hotel Nacional reeked of smoke, liquor, and perfume. The fashionably dressed clientele excitedly watched the repetitious toss of the dice. It was January, the height of the 1958 winter season. Nearly six years after coming to power through a military coup...

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4. Paradise Lost: Castro’s Cuba

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pp. 141-176

The ‘‘magical charm of a tropical night, the rollicking rhythms of the Cuban countryside,’’ the 23 March 1958 Havana Post gushed, ‘‘colorful dances that range from the African-derived ‘guaguanco’ to the dignified ‘danzon,’ dinner and dancing climaxed the opening of The Havana Hilton...

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5. Bootstraps, Beaches, and Cobblestone: Commonwealth Puerto Rico

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pp. 177-210

In May 1958, following his highly publicized confrontation with the hostile crowds of Caracas, Venezuela, Vice President Richard Nixon beat a hasty retreat to more tranquil surroundings in sunny Puerto Rico. The night of his arrival, he spent forty minutes wading through four blocks of historic...

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6. A Cold War Mirage: Puerto Rico in the 1960s and 1970s

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pp. 211-239

For one glamorous evening in November 1961, visitor-host roles reversed. It was Puerto Rico Night at the Kennedy White House, and America’s handsome first couple played host to Puerto Rican governor Luis Muñoz Marín; his wife, Inés María Mendoza; and Puerto Rico’s adopted...

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pp. 241-255

The U.S. hemispheric empire has been shaped by many hands and by many imaginations. Throughout the twentieth century, the empire’s life has played out every day in some of its most crowded public spaces: parks, beaches, museums, cathedrals, airports and railroad stations, and hotel lobbies...


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pp. 257-291


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pp. 293-315


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pp. 317-327

E-ISBN-13: 9781469605531
E-ISBN-10: 1469605538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807832882
Print-ISBN-10: 080783288X

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 646875483
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Negotiating Paradise

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Relations -- Latin America.
  • Latin America -- Relations -- United States.
  • Americans -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tourists -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tourism -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tourism -- Political aspects -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tourism -- Social aspects -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Latin America -- Civilization -- American influences.
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