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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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After the Coup Cover

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After the Coup

An Ethnographic Reframing of Guatemala 1954

Timothy J. Smith

This exceptional collection revisits the aftermath of the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Contributors frame the impact of 1954 not only in terms of the liberal reforms and coffee revolutions of the nineteenth century, but also in terms of post-1954 U.S. foreign policy and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present highlight the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, offering an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.

After-Dinner Conversation Cover

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After-Dinner Conversation

The Diary of a Decadent

By José Asunción Silva

Lost in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten before the author's suicide in 1896, and not published until 1925, José Asunción Silva's After-Dinner Conversation (De sobremesa) is one of Latin America's finest fin de siècle novels and the first one to be translated into English. Perhaps the single best work for understanding turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South America, After-Dinner Conversation is also cited as the continent's first psychological novel and an outstanding example of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and more important for style than plot, After-Dinner Conversation is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to find his beloved Helen, a vision whom his fevered imagination sees as his salvation. Along the way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in every direction while he endures an environment indifferent or hostile to spiritual and intellectual pursuits, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's excellent translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental style. In the introduction, one of the most wide-ranging in Silva criticism, Washbourne places the life and work of Silva in their literary and historical contexts, including an extended discussion of how After-Dinner Conversation fits within Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent movement. Washbourne's perceptive comments and notes also make the novel accessible to general readers, who will find the work surprisingly fresh more than a century after its composition.

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Afterlives of Confinement

Spatial Transitions in Post-Dictatorship Latin America

Susana Draper

During the age of dictatorships, Latin American prisons became a symbol for the vanquishing of political opponents, many of whom were never seen again. In the post-dictatorship era of the 1990s, a number of these prisons were repurposed into shopping malls, museums, and memorials. Susana Draper uses the phenomenon of the “opening” of prisons and detention centers to begin a dialog on conceptualizations of democracy and freedom in post-dictatorship Latin America. Focusing on the Southern Cone nations of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, Draper examines key works in architecture, film, and literature to peel away the veiled continuity of dictatorial power structures in ensuing consumer cultures. The afterlife of prisons became an important tool in the “forgetting” of past politics, while also serving as a reminder to citizens of the liberties they now enjoyed. In Draper’s analysis, these symbols led the populace to believe they had attained freedom, although they had only witnessed the veneer of democracy—in the ability to vote and consume. In selected literary works by Roberto Bolaño, Eleuterio Fernández Huidoboro, and Diamela Eltit and films by Alejandro Agresti and Marco Bechis, Draper finds further evidence of the emptiness and melancholy of underachieved goals in the afterlife of dictatorships. The social changes that did not occur, the inability to effectively mourn the losses of a now-hidden past, the homogenizing effects of market economies, and a yearning for the promises of true freedom are thematic currents underlying much of these texts. Draper’s study of the manipulation of culture and consumerism under the guise of democracy will have powerful implications not only for Latin Americanists but also for those studying neoliberal transformations globally.

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Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War

Tanya Harmer

This ms is an international history of the inter-American Cold War. Harmer looks at Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende (1970-73) and outlines how he proposed a constitutional “Chilean road to socialism.” This call for a peaceful transformation of the inter-American system and international economic relations abroad resulted in a violent, unconstitutional future for Chile, with a right-wing dictatorship drowning out the promise of a revolution in the Southern Cone as well as the global South’s continued dependency on the North.

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Allies at Odds

The Andean Church and its Indigenous Agents, 1583-1671

John Charles

Focusing on the highland parishes of the Lima archdiocese, John Charles explores the vital, often conflictive role indigenous agents played in the creation of Andean Christian society. Torn between their obligation to enforce colonial laws and their customary obligation to protect native communities from the colonizers’ abuses, indios ladinos used the Spanish language to complicate the Church’s efforts to evangelize on its own terms. Utilizing a vast body of literary activity, Allies at Odds provides perspective on the Spanish cultural values that shaped the literary activity of native Andeans and that native Andeans had a part in shaping.

The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl Cover

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The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl

Pre-Hispanic History, Religion, and NahuaPoetics

Jongsoo Lee

Lee provides a new assessment of Nezahualcoyotl that critically examines original codices and poetry written in Nahuatl alongside Spanish chronicles in an effort to paint a more realistic portrait of the legendary Aztec figure. Urging scholars away from sources that reinforce a Judeo-Christian perspective of pre-Hispanic history, Lee offers a revision of the colonial images of Nahua history and culture that have continued over the last five hundred years.

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Alone in Mexico

The Astonishing Travels of Karl Heller, 1845-1848

Written by Karl Bartolomeus Heller and translated and edited by Terry Rugeley

This volume is the first-ever English translation of the memoirs of Karl Heller, a twenty-year-old aspiring Austrian botanist who traveled to Mexico in 1845 to collect specimens. He passed through the Caribbean, lived for a time in the mountains of Veracruz, and journeyed to Mexico City through the cities of Puebla and Cholula. After a brief residence in the capital, Heller moved westward to examine the volcanoes and silver mines near Toluca.
When the United States invaded Mexico in 1846–47 conditions became chaotic, and the enterprising botanist was forced to flee to Yucatán. Heller lived in the port city of Campeche, but visited Mèrida, the ruins of Uxmal, and the remote southern area of the Champotòn River." 
 From there Heller, traveling by canoe, journeyed through southern Tabasco and northern Chiapas and finally returned to Vienna through Cuba and the United States bringing back thousands of samples of Mexican plants and animals.
 
Heller's account is one of the few documents we have from travelers who visited Mexico in this period, and it is particularly useful in describing conditions outside the capital of Mexico City.
 
In 1853 Heller published his German-language account as Reisen in Mexiko, but the work has remained virtually unknown to English or Spanish readers. This edition now provides a complete, annotated, and highly readable translation.

Amazon Town TV Cover

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Amazon Town TV

An Audience Ethnography in Gurupá, Brazil

By Richard Pace and Brian P. Hinote

This pioneering study examines television’s impact on an Amazonian river town from the first broadcasts in Gurupá, in 1983, to the present.

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Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America

A Comparative Assessment

Payne, Judith A.

In this first book-length study to compare the "new novels" of both Spanish America and Brazil, the authors deftly examine the differing perceptions of ambiguity as they apply to questions of gender and the participation of females and males in the establishment of Latin American narrative models. Their daring thesis: the Brazilian new novel developed a more radical form than its better-known Spanish-speaking cousin because it had a significantly different approach to the crucial issues of ambiguity and gender and because so many of its major practitioners were women.

As a wise strategy for assessing the canonical new novels from Latin America, the coupling of ambiguity and gender enables Payne and Fitz to discuss how borders--literary, generic, and cultural--are maintained, challenged, or crossed. Their conclusions illuminate the contributions of the new novel in terms of experimental structures and narrative techniques as well as the significant roles of voice, theme, and language. Using Jungian theory and a poststructural optic, the authors also demonstrate how the Latin American new novel faces such universal subjects as myth, time, truth, and reality. Perhaps the most original aspect of their study lies in its analysis of Brazil's strong female tradition. Here, issues such as alternative visions, contrasexuality, self-consciousness, and ontological speculation gain new meaning for the future of the novel in Latin America.

With its comparative approach and its many bilingual quotations, Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America offers an engaging picture of the marked differences between the literary traditions of Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking America and, thus, new insights into the distinctive mindsets of these linguistic cultures.

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Ambitious Rebels

Remaking Honor, Law, and Liberalism in Venezuela, 1780-1850

Reuben Zahler

Murder, street brawls, marital squabbles, infidelity, official corruption, public insults, and rebellion are just a few of the social layers Reuben Zahler investigates as he studies the dramatic shifts in Venezuela as it transformed from a Spanish colony to a modern republic. His book Ambitious Rebels illuminates the enormous changes in honor, law, and political culture that occurred and how ordinary men and women promoted or rejected those changes.

In a highly engaging style, Zahler examines gender and class against the backdrop of Venezuelan institutions and culture during the late colonial period through post-independence (known as the “middle period”). His fine-grained analysis shows that liberal ideals permeated the elite and popular classes to a substantial degree while Venezuelan institutions enjoyed impressive levels of success. Showing remarkable ambition, Venezuela’s leaders aspired to transform a colony that adhered to the king, the church, and tradition into a liberal republic with minimal state intervention, a capitalistic economy, freedom of expression and religion, and an elected, representative government.

Subtle but surprisingly profound changes of a liberal nature occurred, as evidenced by evolving standards of honor, appropriate gender roles, class and race relations, official conduct, courtroom evidence, press coverage, economic behavior, and church-state relations. This analysis of the philosophy of the elites and the daily lives of common men and women reveals in particular the unwritten, unofficial norms that lacked legal sanction but still greatly affected political structures.

Relying on extensive archival resources, Zahler focuses on Venezuela but provides a broader perspective on Latin American history. His examination provides a comprehensive look at intellectual exchange across the Atlantic, comparative conditions throughout the Americas, and the tension between traditional norms and new liberal standards in a postcolonial society.

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