This article examines the Inter-American Popular Information Program (IIP), a midcentury attempt to apply a set of psychological techniques in mass communication practices oriented to poor and "illiterate" populations in Central and South America. I argue that this program offers an instructive contrast to conventional accounts of social reconstruction and of the history of the "social" as an analytical category. These conventional accounts often frame postwar order narrowly as a grand political-economic compromise in which the "social" is conflated with the space of domestic social stability or a reified national space. The case of the IIP, however, emphasizes the multiplicity of ways—and geographies—in which the "social purpose" of world order was imagined especially in colonial and postcolonial settings. For the IIP, "social stability" was not to be achieved through the language of social security or domestic intervention but through the construction of a particular kind of homology between self and a world order, the construction of psychological selves "fit" for the requirements of a new internationalizing world order. Drawing upon archival records, this article argues for the importance of more complex and diverse accounts of postwar order and the social purposes in which it was implicated.


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pp. 311-341
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