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The Pan American Imagination

The Pan American Imagination: Contested Visions of the Hemisphere in Twentieth-Century Literature

Stephen M. Park
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Pan American Imagination
    Book Description:

    In the history of the early twentieth-century Americas, visions of hemispheric unity flourished, and the notion of a transnational American identity was embraced by artists, intellectuals, and government institutions. InThe Pan American Imagination,Stephen Park explores the work of several Pan American modernists who challenged the body of knowledge being produced about Latin America, crossing the disciplinary boundaries of academia as well as the formal boundaries of artistic expression-from literary texts and travel writing to photography, painting, and dance. Park invests in an interdisciplinary approach, which he frames as a politically resistant intellectual practice, using it not only to examine the historical phenomenon of Pan Americanism but also to explore the implications for current transnational scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3667-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: A History of an Idea and Its Institutions
    (pp. 1-16)

    Today the House of the Americas sits unnoticed on a corner of Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. Now the ceremonial home of the Organization of American States, it is overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbors, the White House a few blocks to the north and the Washington Monument just across the street. The House of the Americas attracts no attention from the Mall’s tourists and very little notice from the State Department. In 1908, however, the scene was far different. Dignitaries from across the Western Hemisphere gathered to lay the cornerstone for a building that would be the new home...

  6. Hemispheric Identity and the Uses of Indigenous Culture

    • 1 Mesoamerican Modernism: William Carlos Williams and the Archaeological Imagination
      (pp. 19-54)

      As a magazine devoted to the avant-garde on both sides of the Atlantic,Broomhad always insisted on bringing its readers what was new. At the back of its December 1922 issues, though,Broompromised even more for its readers in the upcoming number. The ad proclaimed that “the oldest and newest art of America” would be coming to them and that it would take the form of “Mayan sculpture and architecture” as well as “contemporary American prose and poetry.” The magazine did indeed offer some of the best contemporary authors for the January issue since Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein,...

    • 2 Hemispheric Mythologies: Rethinking the History of the Americas through Simón Bolívar and Quetzalcoatl
      (pp. 55-88)

      The artifacts and mythologies of pre-Columbian cultures were not only repurposed by U.S. artists, but they also became the foundation for many forms of nationalism in the former Spanish colonies. Mexico in particular placed Aztec imagery at the center of its state-defined national identity, both after Independence in 1821 and after the Revolution. For instance, the work of the Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gamio to excavate the ruins of Teotihuacán and reconstruct the lives of its inhabitants was deeply intertwined with the project of creating a new Mexican national identity. His bookForjando patria(1916), orForging the Fatherland, is a...

  7. Cuba, Race, and Modernity

    • 3 Academic Discourse at Havana: Pan American Eugenics and Transnational Capital in Alejo Carpentier’s ¡Écue-Yamba-Ó!
      (pp. 91-125)

      When it was first published in Madrid in 1933,¡Écue-Yamba-Ó!must have been an object of curiosity. As Roberto González Echevarría has imagined it, the few readers who came across this book were most likely puzzled by its indecipherable title (which in Afro-Cuban vernacular would translate toPraised Be the Lord!) and by its virtually unknown author, who, until then, had authored only music reviews and a few poems.¹ The novel is devoted, as the subtitle promises, to an Afro-Cuban story about Menegildo Cué, who grows up in rural Cuba and, after committing a murder that lands him in a...

    • 4 Pan American Progress: The Crime of Cuba, Economic Development, and Representations of the “South”
      (pp. 126-156)

      With violence in the streets, mass incarcerations, and finally the overthrow of the Machado regime, 1933 marked a significant turning point in Cuban history. But it was also an important year for understanding the way U.S.-centered conceptions about economic development and about racial difference proliferated throughout the hemisphere. In the previous chapter we saw how Alejo Carpentier exposed the interrelation of eugenics and foreign capital as a means of disciplining Afro-Cuban laborers, and, I have argued,¡Écue-Yamba-Ó!challenges the scientific racism underlying Pan Americanism. And yet the way knowledge production was used to reinforce U.S. dominance was rarely so obvious;...

  8. Women, Migration, and Memories of Pan Americanism

    • 5 Pan Americanism Revisited: Hemispheric Feminism and Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters
      (pp. 159-189)

      Pan Americanism was an idea brimming with the promise of hemispheric unity, but it was a promise that rang hollow for women and for people of color. In Carleton Beals’s racist link between the U.S. South and Cuba and in the Pan American Union’s eugenics conference in Havana, it was clear that transnational cooperation was hardly an all-inclusive vision. What’s more, the concerns of women during this period were neglected, and women were largely denied the means to represent themselves on the Pan American stage. To be sure, women were active both as artists and intellectuals during the early twentieth...

    • 6 Decolonizing the Dance: Katherine Dunham’s Transnational Approach to Anthropology and Performance in Haiti
      (pp. 190-220)

      It had been three days since Katherine Dunham left behind Port-au-Prince and journeyed to the countryside, where she now found herself lying on the floor of a small hut along with eight strangers, all packed closely against one another. As part of the Vodou initiation ritual, they had not been allowed to move from the floor save to turn over in unison every few hours. Through the hut’s only window came the smells of rich and spicy foods (the floor-bound initiates would be allowed none of this), yet this was barely discernible to Dunham as the sweat from the other...

  9. Epilogue: Singularity, Multiplicity, and Pan American Unity
    (pp. 221-232)

    The ideological project of Pan Americanism was to convince the varied peoples of the Americas that there was one, singular vision of the hemisphere. This, of course, would be the vision of Pan America as viewed from U.S. centers of power such as the Pan American Union. Its aim, as I have endeavored to make clear, was to normalize the values and objectives of U.S.-defined modernity as the ideal for all the peoples of the hemisphere. Such a singular vision of the hemisphere was, however, challenged from the beginning. Not only were the PAU’s opponents critical of its latent imperialism;...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 233-252)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-266)
  12. Index
    (pp. 267-270)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-272)