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America's Shadow

America's Shadow: An Anatomy of Empire

William V. Spanos
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    America's Shadow
    Book Description:

    A study of imperialism that stretches from ancient Rome to the post–Cold War world and focuses on the Vietnam War, this provocative work boldly revises our assumptions about the genealogy of the West. Rather than locating its source in classical Greece, William V. Spanos argues, we should look to ancient Rome, which first articulated the ideas that would become fundamental to the West’s imperial project. These founding ideas, he claims, have informed the American national identity and its foreign policy from its origins.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5294-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxiv)

    Following the “decisive” defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War and amid the American media’s celebration of another instance of the validity of America’s “exceptionalist” mission in the world’s wilderness, President George Bush announced that the American people had finally “kicked the Vietnam syndrome.” In the fall semester of 1988 and again in the spring semester of 1990, immediately preceding the Gulf War, I had given a graduate seminar titled “Re-presenting Vietnam,” the project of which was to think the ideological implications of the American culture industry’s inordinate overdetermination of an idea of America that resonated backward to the origins...

  5. Chapter 1 The Ontological Origins of Occidental Imperialism Thinking the Meta of Metaphysics
    (pp. 1-63)

    Traditional commentators on Western imperialism, whether imperialist or anti-imperialist in their sympathies, have invariably situated its historical origins in modernity, indeed, as concurrent with the emergence of the Enlightenment. Until recently, these commentators have also tended to restrict the parameters of the imperialist project to economics or economics/politics. They have, as in the cases of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and the other classical capitalist economists, on the one hand, and Marx and Engels, on the other, privileged the economic site as a base to essentially epiphenomenal superstructural sites such as ontology, gender, religion, culture, and information. These commentators always refer to...

  6. Chapter 2 Culture and Colonization The Imperial Imperatives of the Centered Circle
    (pp. 64-125)

    Edward Said’s rethinking of colonialism sets out with a deep recognition of the ambivalence of humanist culture’s Eurocentrism:

    For the first time in modern history, the whole imposing edifice of humanistic knowledge resting on the classics of European letters, and with it the scholarly discipline inculcated formally into students in Western universities through the forms familiar to us all, represents only a fraction of the real human relationships and interactions now taking place in the world.... New cultures, new societies, and emerging visions of social, political, and aesthetic orders now lay claim to the humanist’s attention, with an inconsistence that...

  7. Chapter 3 Vietnam and the Pax Americana A Genealogy of the “New World Order”
    (pp. 126-169)

    All too many “progressive” academics are now affirming that the various emancipatory discursive practices precipitated by the Vietnam War have established a revisionary cultural momentum that promises to affect the sociopolitical site of American, indeed of global, being in a decisive way. This, it would seem, is suggested by the significant transformation of the canonical curriculum accomplished in the academy and other institutions of cultural production since 1968. It is also suggested by the increasingly vocal representation of this transformation by the cultural and political Right as a usurpation of power by a radical Left, one that has imposed a...

  8. Chapter 4 “Theory” and the End of History Rethinking Postmodernity
    (pp. 170-190)

    The Vietnam War, as I have suggested, was the epochal moment in contemporary history that bore witness to the “end” of the discourse of (“American”) Man. It did not simply disclose the violent contradictions, including its continuity with Europe, inhering in the benign exceptionalist logic of liberal American democracy. This disclosive moment also instigated the e-mergence of a multiplicity of historical subject positions (contradictory Others) hitherto repressed or marginalized by a larger and dominant cultural identity: “America.”¹ But because this multisituated emergence remained intransigently symptomatic throughout the Vietnam decade, it failed to accomplish the potential social revolution that the decentering...

  9. Chapter 5 Thinking in the Interregnum Prolegomenon to a Spectral Politics
    (pp. 191-206)

    What I have argued in this book about the relationship between philosophy and imperialism is that the euphoric annunciation of the end of history and the advent of the New World Order by the deputies of the dominant American culture at the end of the Cold War is symptomatic of the achievement of the global hegemony of “America” understood not simply as a political order, but as a way of thinking. I have claimed that this triumphant “American” way of thinking is not exceptionalist, as it has always been claimed by Americans, especially since de Tocqueville’s announcement ofhe advent of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 207-272)
  11. Index
    (pp. 273-287)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)