Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization
Publication Year: 2003
The story unfolds through a decisive account of the career of Isaiah Bowman (1878–1950), the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century. For nearly four decades Bowman operated around the vortex of state power, working to bring an American order to the global landscape. An explorer on the famous Machu Picchu expedition of 1911 who came to be known first as "Woodrow Wilson’s geographer," and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt’s, Bowman was present at the creation of U.S. liberal foreign policy.
A quarter-century later, Bowman was at the center of Roosevelt’s State Department, concerned with the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. access to European colonies; he was described by Dean Acheson as a key "architect of the United Nations." In that period he was a leader in American science, served as president of Johns Hopkins University, and became an early and vociferous cold warrior. A complicated, contradictory, and at times controversial figure who was very much in the public eye, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Bowman’s career as a geographer in an era when the value of geography was deeply questioned provides a unique window into the contradictory uses of geographical knowledge in the construction of the American Empire. Smith’s historical excavation reveals, in broad strokes yet with lively detail, that today's American-inspired globalization springs not from the 1980s but from two earlier moments in 1919 and 1945, both of which ended in failure. By recharting the geography of this history, Smith brings the politics—and the limits—of contemporary globalization sharply into focus.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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List of Maps
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In November 2001, U.S. forces seized a rural part of southern Afghanistannear Kandahar, and in a staged display jubilant marines hoisted an Ameri-can flag on the highest point of the terrain. The reference to Teddy Roo-sevelt’s Rough Riders on San Juan Hill at the dawn of the first moment ofU.S. global ambition or to U.S. marines on Iwo Jima during the second mo-...
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So deeply did the conundrum of a lost geography churn inside me that “Ieither had to write the book,” as Hermann Hesse once said, “or be reducedto despair.” It took a long time, and the work has left me in massive intel-lectual debt. At Johns Hopkins, where the research began, I was lucky tohave Reds Wolman and the late Abel Wolman, both of whom knew Bow-...
1. The Lost Geography of the American Century
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The story is told, perhaps apocryphally, that in May 1898 when WilliamMcKinley received the news that Commodore George Dewey had sailedinto Manila Bay, routed the Spanish navy, and claimed the Philippines, thepresident was immediately jubilant—but also quickly puzzled. AlthoughMcKinley had authorized Dewey’s mission, he now fumbled with a map...
PART I. FROM EXPLORATION TO ENTERPRISE: GEOGRAPHY ON THE CUSP OF EMPIRE
2. 1898 and the Making of a Practical Man
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The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a watershed in the historical ge-ography of U.S. expansionism. The national and state boundaries of theUnited States were effectively in place, even though several territories hadyet to consummate statehood, and the geographical claims that resultedfrom the war were less about national consolidation than international col-...
3. “Conditional Conquest”: Geography, Labor, and Exploration in South America
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As the conquests of 1898 suggest, the first mappings of the American Cen-tury represented a continuity with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuriesmore than a harbinger of new geographies. To be a geographer in the pass-ing era was to be an explorer, an adventurer into the “unknown space andbarbaric chaos,” as Mackinder described it, beyond the “civilized” world.1 It...
4. The Search for Geographical Order: The American Geographical Society
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The United States at the turn of the twentieth century was gripped by a“search for order,” according to historian Robert Wiebe in the classic bookof that title. Through most of the nineteenth century, the country encom-passed a society without a core, a highly decentralized agglomeration ofcommunities and towns with equally dispersed political and economic pow-...
PART II. THE RISE OF FOREIGN POLICY LIBERALISM: THE GREAT WAR AND THE NEW WORLD
5. The Inquiry: Geography and a “Scientific Peace”
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Shortly after the “lovely little war” of 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signedbetween a vanquished Spain, finally stripped of its colonies, and a victoriousUnited States only beginning to descry world power. Whatever the treaty’sprofound implications, the peace negotiations that produced it were a decid-edly low-key affair. The United States was represented by only seven men;...
6. A Last Hurrah for Old World Geographies: Fixing Space at the Paris Peace Conference
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On a cold December day in 1918, three army trucks arrived at pierside inHoboken, New Jersey, where the SS George Washington was being pre-pared to transport the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.The “war to end all wars” was being followed by the conference to end allconferences, and the delegates at Paris would resolve the territorial, diplo-...
7. “Revolutionarily Yours”: The New World, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Making of Liberal Foreign Policy
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...“Even the empty spaces of the world are no longer non-political,” Bow-man announced after the war.1 This could well have been adopted as theanthem for the new liberal foreign policy that developed in the intersticesof 1920s isolationist ideologies in the United States. Wilson had brought toParis a liberalism that evolved out of the Progressive movement. It com-...
PART III. THE EMPIRE AT HOME: SCIENCE AND POLITICS
8. “The Geography of Internal Affairs”: Pioneer Settlement as National Economic Development
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Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous deployment of 1890 census data en-shrined the belief that the frontier in the United States was gone. More im-portant, it crystallized a national myth that the western frontier involvedthe defining experience in “American” history. This was ominous. If de-mocracy and national spirit could no longer be forged anew in the combined...
9. The Kantian University: Science and Nation Building at Johns Hopkins
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The idea of the modern university dates to the German idealists, especiallyto Kant. The university for Kant is devoted to reason, internally ordered bythe logical division of knowledge into faculties and “disciplines” that ex-press the conceptual divisions of the world, and the individual thinker is itscentral figure. Distanced from state influence, the Kantian university...
PART IV. THE AMERICAN LEBENSRAUM
10. Geopolitics: The Reassertion of Old World Geographies
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The end of World War I closed the curtains on the first formative momentof the American Century. It intimated a new calibration of geography witheconomic expansion and was for many a time of optimism. Woodrow Wil-son’s new diplomacy and his aspirations for a tidied map of Europe weremeant to take international political and diplomatic relations beyond a con-...
11. Silence and Refusal: Refugees, Race, and Economic Development
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In late June 1933, the president of the American Geographical Society, Dr.John Finley, received an unusual letter from Berlin. It came from Hubert R.Knickerbocker, a journalist with the Philadelphia Public Ledger and the NewYork Evening Post, and it concerned the young German geographer Karl A.Wittfogel. Wittfogel had become a member of the AGS in January 1933, the...
12. Settling Affairs with the Old World: Dismembering Germany?
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...consult with Roosevelt over his impending State Department mission toLondon, it was a familiar routine for him. But this time the press corps atthe White House gates buzzed with excitement. Since U.S. entry into thewar, Roosevelt had fastidiously avoided public comment on the question ofpostwar territorial arrangements, trying to keep public attention firmly on...
13. Toward Development: Shaking Loose the Colonies
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On the eve of World War II, more than 60 percent of foreign direct invest-ment from the developed capitalist world was targeted at the developingworld. As anomalous as this was historically, it fostered the assumption thatpostwar economic expansion would focus on what came to be known as thethird world. Indeed, with the Marshall Plan not yet dreamed of, it was an...
14. Frustrated Globalism, Compromise Geographies: Designing the United Nations
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With war drawing to a close, attention in the U.S. State Department in-creasingly turned toward the design of the United Nations, the jewel in thecrown of the postwar American Lebensraum and the fulcrum on which thesecond moment of the American Century balanced. Disabling Germany andshaking loose the colonies for U.S. trade inevitably involved compromise...
PART V. THE BITTER END
15. Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
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The end of World War II should have been Isaiah Bowman’s crowning mo-ment. The United Nations Charter was ratified in October 1945, and to hisinitial relief a more conservative, farm-raised midwesterner now occupiedthe White House. “We can look forward to the greatest age in mankind,”Harry Truman had announced at Potsdam in July 1945 as the American...
16. Geographical Solicitude, Vital Anomaly
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The American Century is synonymous with globalization. The first forma-tive moment, from 1898 to 1919, adumbrated the vision of a global politicaleconomy that would simultaneously surpass the regional parameters of theEuropean empires and entwine a global political structure (the League of Na-tions) with an already accomplished world market. The Russian Revolution,...
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Note: Two of the major collections consulted, the Bowman Papers at JohnsHopkins University and the collection of Bowman Papers held by RobertG. Bowman in Lincoln, Nebraska, were combined and reorganized aftermost of the archival research for this book was completed. The combinedcollection is held at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins Uni-...
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Bowman among the faculty at Yale (at the center back), approximately 1907(courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, NewCotahuasi, Peru: Subprefect Viscarra (second from left), Bowman (third from right), and Bingham (second from right) with members of theBowman party on the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, 1911 (Hiram Bingham ImageMachiguenga Indians above the Pongo de Manique, 1911 (Hiram Bingham...
Page Count: 584
Publication Year: 2003
Series Title: California Studies in Critical Human Geography