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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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Ambitious Rebels Cover

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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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American Sugar Kingdom

The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-1934

César J. Ayala

Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective. This comparative study of the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century shows how their economic and social class systems were shaped by the explosive growth of American sugar companies. Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective.

Americans All Cover

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Americans All

Good Neighbor Cultural Diplomacy in World War II

By Darlene Sadlier

The Americans are Coming! Cover

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The Americans are Coming!

For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators. Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle. The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies. 

Americans in the Treasure House Cover

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Americans in the Treasure House

Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire

By Jason Ruiz

Through extensive engagement with archival sources, this book traces the history of travel to Mexico during the Porfiriato and the Revolution, exploring how travelers’ representations created an image of Mexico as a country requiring foreign intervention to reach its full potential.

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The Americas

Vol. 57, no. 2 (2000) through current issue

Since its founding in 1944, The Americas (TAm) has been one of the principal English-language journals of Latin American history. It publishes articles on all chronological periods of Latin American, Spanish borderlands, and related Iberian scholarship. The journal includes an extensive book review section and a compilation of news and notes of general interest to Latin Americanists.

Anay's Will to Learn Cover

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Anay's Will to Learn

A Woman's Education in the Shadow of the Maquiladoras

By Elaine Hampton with Anay Palomeque de Carrillo

This ethnographic case study provides a personal view of a maquiladora worker’s struggles with factory labor conditions, poverty, and violence as she journeys toward education, financial opportunity, and, ultimately, empowerment.

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Ancient Borinquen

Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Native Puerto Rico

Edited by Peter E. Siegel, with contributions from Peter G. Roe, Peter E. Siegel

Native American cultures of Puerto Rico prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1493.


A book on the prehistory of a modern geopolitical entity is artificial. It is unlikely that prehistoric occupants recognized the same boundaries and responded to the same political forces that operated in the formation of current nations, states, or cities. Yet, archaeologists traditionally have produced such volumes and they generally represent anchors for ongoing research in a specific region, in this case the island of Puerto Rico, its immediate neighbors, and the wider Caribbean basin.  

To varying degrees, this work addresses issues and draws data from beyond the boundaries of Puerto Rico because in prehistoric times the water between islands likely was not viewed as a boundary in our modern sense of the term. The last few decades have witnessed a growth of intense archaeological research on the island, from material culture in the form of lithics, ceramics, and rock art; to nutritional, architecture, and environmental studies; to rituals and social patterns; to the aftermath of Conquest.  

Ancient Borinquen provides a comprehensive overview of recent thinking, new data, syntheses, and insights into current Puerto Rican archaeology, and it reflects and illuminates similar concerns elsewhere in the West Indies, lowland South America, and Central America.

 

Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza Cover

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Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza

From Primordial Sea to Public Space

By Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead

Extensively illustrated with detailed site plans and photographs, this architectural history of the Mexican plaza reveals why this central public space has been the heart of the community from ancient Mesoamerican times until the present.

Andean Expressions Cover

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Andean Expressions

Art and Archaeology of the Recuay Culture

George F. Lau

Flourishing from A.D. 1 to 700, the Recuay inhabited lands in northern Peru just below the imposing glaciers of the highest mountain chain in the tropics. Thriving on an economy of high-altitude crops and camelid herding, they left behind finely made artworks and grand palatial buildings with an unprecedented aesthetic and a high degree of technical sophistication. In this first in-depth study of these peoples, George Lau situates the Recuay within the great diversification of cultural styles associated with the Early Intermediate Period, provides new and significant evidence to evaluate models of social complexity, and offers fresh theories about life, settlement, art, and cosmology in the high Andes.
 
Lau crafts a nuanced social and historical model in order to evaluate the record of Recuay developments as part of a wider Andean prehistory. He analyzes the rise and decline of Recuay groups as well as their special interactions with the Andean landscape. Their  coherence was expressed as shared culture, community, and corporate identity, but Lau also reveals its diversity through time and space in order to challenge the monolithic characterizations of Recuay society pervasive in the literature today.
 
Many of the innovations in Recuay culture, revealed for the first time in this landmark volume, left a lasting impact on Andean history and continue to have relevance today. The author highlights the ways that material things intervened in ancient social and political life, rather than being merely passive reflections of historical change, to show that Recuay public art, exchange, technological innovations, warfare, and religion offer key insights into the emergence of social hierarchy and chiefly leadership and the formation, interaction, and later dissolution of large discrete polities. By presenting Recuay artifacts as fundamentally social in the sense of creating and negotiating relations among persons, places, and things, he recognizes in the complexities of the past an enduring order and intelligence that shape the contours of history.

 

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