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Hispanic American Historical Review 82.1 (2002) 200-201

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Book Review

Beyond the Ideal:
Pan Americanism in Inter-American Affairs

Beyond the Ideal: Pan Americanism in Inter-American Affairs. Edited by DAVID SHEININ. Contributions in Latin American Studies, no. 18. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Notes. Index. viii, 225 pp. Cloth, $65 .00 . Paper, $24.95.

The end of the cold war has opened new perspectives on the history of inter-American relations. Diplomatic historian David Sheinin's edited volume offers a convenient and stimulating collection of essays that moves beyond the cold war fixations with security questions and the issues surrounding communism to examine different dimensions in international affairs, including the roles of feminists, environmentalists, creative writers, and human rights advocates. In a topical sense, therefore, the breadth of the selections covers some of the more innovative scholarship in international history in recent years. The chronological emphasis is on the period that begins with James G. Blaine's Pan American Conference of 1889-90 and extends into the late twentieth century (the exception is Peter Blanchard's "Pan Americanism and Slavery in the Era of Latin American Independence.")

Sheinin's introduction and 9 of the 14 selections mention the expressions "Pan American" and "Pan Americanism" in their titles. The other five selections comment either directly or indirectly on these expressions or the meanings behind them. Consequently, this volume offers the reader an opportunity to explore the meaning of this concept as interpreted by specialists examining specific case studies. The United States government quickly emerges as the single most powerful actor in this drama, but there are many other important players. Richard Salisbury's article reminds us that Spain, in spite of its defeat in the 1898 war, continued to have a presence in the Western Hemisphere. There is also considerable evidence in this volume that individual Latin American nations followed their own compasses in policy formulation rather than succumbing to pressure from the United States. Thomas Leonard's study makes that point regarding Central America, Michael Weis draws a similar conclusion on the Oswaldo Aranha era in Brazil, Jeannie Hey detects a similar pattern in Ecuador, and Stephen Streeter finds a similar hemispheric trend in the 1954-63 period. It would not be unreasonable to conclude that Pan Americanism operated on multiple levels, many of which were beyond the control of Washington officialdom. [End Page 200]

The volume includes four studies that explore social and cultural manifestations of inter-American relations. Blanchard's examination of the truncated push toward the abolition of slavery in the postindependence period offers a sound introduction to the interaction of social and diplomatic history. Mark Berger's condensed survey of U.S. academia's institutionalization of Latin American studies moves adroitly from the enthusiasms of Herbert Eugene Bolton in the early twentieth century through the heyday of Frank Tannenbaum to the astute observations of Lester Langley in the 1980 s. Alberto Prieto-Calixto's essay on Rubén Darío and Earl Fitz's "Historical Overview" offer stimulating samplings from the fertile fields of Latin American literature.

Another strong point in this volume is the attention given to activists, or individuals and groups committed to the advocacy of specific causes. David Castle's well-researched biographical sketch of Leo S. Rowe presents a penetrating view of one of the most energetic, if at times naïve, champions of inter-American cooperation. K. Lynn Stoner's essay highlights the contributions of an international mix of feminists who made up the Inter-American Commission of Women within the Pan American Union. This group took on the challenge of promoting women's rights within the macho culture that prevailed throughout the hemisphere. Editor Sheinin provides an incisive discussion of the work of environmentalists in the early twentieth century in defense of wildlife and forests. And Jo M. Pasqualucci explains the operations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, with an emphasis on the 1980 s. The actions of these groups and individuals are seldom mentioned...


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