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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s Native Archive and the Circulation of Knowledge in Colonial Mexico

Amber Brian

Born between 1568 and 1580, Alva Ixtlilxochitl was a direct descendant of Ixtlilxochitl I and Ixtlilxochitl II, who had been rulers of Texcoco, one of the major city-states in pre-Conquest Mesoamerica. After a distinguished education and introduction into the life of the empire of New Spain in Mexico, Ixtlilxochitl was employed by the viceroy to write histories of the indigenous peoples in Mexico. Engaging with this history and delving deep into the resultant archives of this life's work, Amber Brian addresses the question of how knowledge and history came to be crafted in this era.

Brian takes the reader through not only the history of the archives itself, but explores how its inheritors played as crucial a role in shaping this indigenous history as the author. The archive helped inspire an emerging nationalism at a crucial juncture in Latin American history, as Creoles and indigenous peoples appropriated the history to give rise to a belief in Mexican exceptionalism. This belief, ultimately, shaped the modern state and impacted the course of history in the Americas. Without the work of Ixtlilxochitl, that history would look very different today.

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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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Amazons, Wives, Nuns, and Witches

Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Brazil, 1500-1822

By Carole A. Myscofski

Writing Brazilian women back into history, this book presents the first comprehensive study in English of how women experienced and understood their lives within the society created by the Portuguese imperial government and the colonial era Roman Catholic Church.

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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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American Baroque

Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492-1700

Molly A. Warsh

Pearls have enthralled global consumers since antiquity, and the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella explicitly charged Columbus with finding pearls, as well as gold and silver, when he sailed westward in 1492. American Baroque charts Spain's exploitation of Caribbean pearl fisheries to trace the genesis of its maritime empire. In the 1500s, licit and illicit trade in the jewel gave rise to global networks, connecting the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean to the pearl-producing regions of the Chesapeake and northern Europe.

Pearls—a unique source of wealth because of their renewable, fungible, and portable nature—defied easy categorization. Their value was highly subjective and determined more by the individuals, free and enslaved, who produced, carried, traded, wore, and painted them than by imperial decrees and tax-related assessments. The irregular baroque pearl, often transformed by the imagination of a skilled artisan into a fantastical jewel, embodied this subjective appeal. Warsh blends environmental, social, and cultural history to construct microhistories of peoples' wide-ranging engagement with this deceptively simple jewel. Pearls facilitated imperial fantasy and personal ambition, adorned the wardrobes of monarchs and financed their wars, and played a crucial part in the survival strategies of diverse people of humble means. These stories, taken together, uncover early modern conceptions of wealth, from the hardscrabble shores of Caribbean islands to the lavish rooms of Mediterranean palaces.

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American Crossings

Border Politics in the Western Hemisphere

edited by Maiah Jaskoski, Arturo C. Sotomayor, and Harold A. Trinkunas

In summer 2014, US agencies responsible for the border with Mexico were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America. Unprepared to address this unexpected kind of migrant, the US government deployed troops to carry out a new border mission: the feeding, care, and housing of this wave of children. This event highlights the complex social, economic, and political issues that arise along borders. In American Crossings, nine scholars consider the complicated modern history of borders in the Western Hemisphere, examining borders as geopolitical boundaries, key locations for internal security, spaces for international trade, and areas where national and community identities are defined. Among the provocative questions raised are, Why are Peru and Chile inclined to legalize territory disputes through the International Court of Justice, undermining their militaries? Why has economic integration in the “Tri-Border Area” of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay increased illicit trade supporting transnational terrorist groups? And how has a weak Ecuadorian presence at the Ecuador−Colombia border encouraged Colombian guerrillas to enforce the international borderline?

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American Imperialism's Undead

The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism

Raphael Dalleo

As modern Caribbean politics and literature emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, Haiti, as the region's first independent state, stood as a source of inspiration for imagining decolonization and rooting regional identity in Africanness. Yet at precisely the same moment that anticolonialism was spreading throughout the Caribbean, Haiti itself was occupied by U.S. marines, a fact that regional political and cultural histories too often overlook. In American Imperialism’s Undead, Raphael Dalleo examines how Caribbean literature and activism emerged in the shadow of the U.S. military occupation of Haiti (1915-34) and how that presence influenced the development of anticolonialism throughout the region.

The occupation was a generative event for Caribbean activists such as C. L. R. James, George Padmore, and Marcus and Amy Jacques Garvey as well as for writers such as Claude McKay, Eric Walrond, and Alejo Carpentier. Dalleo provides new ways of understanding these luminaries, while also showing how other important figures such as Aimé Césaire, Arturo Schomburg, Claudia Jones, Frantz Fanon, Amy Ashwood Garvey, H. G. De Lisser, Luis Palés Matos, George Lamming, and Jean Rhys can be contextualized in terms of the occupation. By examining Caribbean responses to Haiti’s occupation, Dalleo underscores U.S. imperialism as a crucial if unspoken influence on anticolonial discourses and decolonization in the region. Without acknowledging the significance of the occupation of Haiti, our understanding of Atlantic history cannot be complete.

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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.

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Americans All

Good Neighbor Cultural Diplomacy in World War II

By Darlene Sadlier

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