Introduction: The World from Latin America.
She might as well have been writing on Latin America in world history. It's been more than a decade since the Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR) grappled with the "uneasy place of Latin American history in world history curriculums and textbooks." (2) Some world history survey courses still either begin or end at 1500 C.E.; at the secondary school level, Global History and Advanced Placement World History courses offered over two years have often done the same. (3) The result? A Latin America that can still be described as "inhabiting a space [in world history] that is not so much insignificant as it is simply strange." (4)
Can l'Amerique latine, "a modern twist," perhaps, "on an old imperial idea" ever fit in? (5) This edition of the World History Bulletin--"The World from Latin America"-- might help redirect discussion on how to insert "the odd region out" of a global narrative. (6) We encourage a close listen, instead, to contemporary sources and current scholars. These voices--past and present--offer new directions in research and instruction.
Here, agency turns up in expected stories and places, providing fresh perspective on worn gendered and imperial narratives. For instance, Allyson Poska's "Peninsular Women, Migration, and the Creation of the Spanish Empire" takes on the traditional tale of the "missing" peninsular woman in the early years of conquest. Included among sixteenth century Iberian emigrants, she argues, were widows, midwives, and evangelizers, all "primary transmitters of culture" to next generation of American Spanish. Sharika Crawford's "From Turtle Soup to Turtle Disputes: Maritime Boundaries and Commodity Networks in Caribbean Nicaragua, 1901-1916" employs incident analysis to reveal Nicaraguan pushback against unlawful Caymanian fishing in national waters. This essay also investigates the luxury commodity chain of green turtles to consider the construction of maritime territorial boundaries and use of state power.
Even prior to the nineteenth century, efforts of elites met their match in subaltern institutions. This is by no means a story unique to Latin America and as such offers much to the comparative world historian. For instance, Eric Palladini's historiographical essay re-casts the subaltern from the monolithic indigenous who were passive prey to Iberian whims, to an active, purposeful group which met their own community's needs. His "Time, Institutions, and the Subaltern in Latin American Economic History" presses the argument to consider the connection between change and continuity in subaltern institutions and Latin America's economic performance. Indeed, nineteenth century financial considerations were one of many reasons literacy proponents did not meet hoped-for success with indigenous schoolchildren. In his "Endangered Liberty: Schooling, Literacy, and the Idea of Progress in Nineteenth-Century Mexico," E. Mark Moreno examines literacy in reading and writing as central to notions of state formation and transatlantic ideology "beyond warfare" to explain why a top-down approach, imported from across the Atlantic failed to take hold.
The essays above are well-suited to be folded into lessons or lectures, either as case studies or to spark general discussion. However, Kit Wainer's "Teaching Latin American History Using a Document Based Question" shifts in-class responsibility from the instructor to the students. In this hands-on focus on Latin-American nationalism, students sift through primary sources to examine to the goals of Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas and Argentine president Juan Peron. While this exercise was crafted with advanced high school students in mind, it should also spark discussion in undergraduate sections of up to forty students.
The last three essays seek to recast discussion of Latin America in world history by highlighting transnational exchange at the institutional and individual level. Stella Krepp and Alexandre Moreli's "Defying Ideas and Structures: Writing Global History from Latin America" takes on the problem of Latin America's insertion into global history by calling on greater transnational cooperation between scholars. Such communication could break through barriers, they argue, posed by language, funding, and instruction. "A True Liberation": Braudel, The Mediterranean, and Stories of Dutch Brazil" provides one such example. This essay explores how Fernand Braudel's "Brazilian years" (the 1930s) proved to be a game-changer for Braudel as an educator and as a researcher. Years later, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II proved to be a "true liberation" for generations of Brazilian historians in search of a broader, more global approach to their work. Finally, in their "Finding Footprints of the Operation Condor: Cooperation Between Brazil and Uruguay in Communist Matters Before the Seventies" Roberto Baptista Junior and Roberto Garcia pivot discussion of anti-communist activities away from U.S. intervention and towards agency of Southern Cone nations during the repression of the 1970s. This begins, they argue, not with the Cuban revolution and through U.S. interference, but with cooperation (and, at times, antagonism) between Brazil and Uruguay from the 1930s.
World history is a method, a process, and a point of view; it is a calling, and a mission. But is Latin America in world history a "quixotic" venture, as Clendinnen has described her own work, as elusive as Ahab's whale? "We will never catch him, and don't much want to," she writes, "it is our own limitations of thought, of understandings, of imagination that we test ..." (7) The essays offered here, however, push past such challenges to reveal the local in the global--and the world, in this case, from Latin America. (8)
(1) Inga Clendinnen, Aztecs: An Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 275.
(2) Mary K. Vaughan and Barbara Weinstein, "HAHR Forum: Placing Latin America in World History," Hispanic American Historical Review 84:3 (August 2004), 391.
(3) Until quite recently, this was standard practice in New York. At the state level, the latest curricular iterations of Global History have pushed periodization from prehistory to 1750 C.E. (9th grade) and 1750-present (10th grade). For reference, please see http://www.nygeographicalliance.org/sites/default/files/ss-frame work-9-12.pdf
(4) Lauren Benton, "No Longer the Odd Region Out: Repositioning Latin America in World History," Hispanic American Historical Review 84:3 (August 2004), 423.
(5) Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Latin America: the Allure and Power of an Idea (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2017), 3.
(6) See Lauren Benton's, "No Longer the Odd Region Out: Repositioning Latin America in World History," Hispanic American Historical Review 84:3 (August 2004), 423-430.
(7) Inga Clendinnen, Aztecs: An Interpretation Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, 275.
(8) "The World from Latin America: is the title suggested by the late Denis Gainty. I am most grateful to him for the opportunity to help curate this edition of the World History Bulletin. With typical exuberance, he warmed to the idea of Latin America as an important unit of analysis, and as such could be considered world history in action. It was clear, however, that we needed a more accessible title. This he provided easily--and, as ever, with great enthusiasm.
Suzanne Marie Litrel, Georgia State University
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|Title Annotation:||Special Section: The World from Latin America|
|Author:||Litrel, Suzanne Marie|
|Publication:||World History Bulletin|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2017|
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