Chasing Che and the New Global Latin America

This post is published in conjunction with the American Historical Association conference in Denver, taking place January 5-8.When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag #AHA17!


The opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and continued changes to current Cuban sanctions is just an example of how Latin American countries can impact our global culture, economy, and politics. Yet the impact is usually not so apparent.

Matthew C. Guttmann and Jeffrey Lesser–editors of Global Latin America, part of the new Global Square Series–introduce how Latin American countries have, for quite some time, been global players.

The puzzle that inspired Global Latin America was, Why did we find Che Guevara’s image everywhere we went in the world? Why was a Latin American revolutionary of the 1950s and 1960s so popular among so many people around the globe in 2016? Why was Che easily the most famous Latin American outside the region? Sure, images of the bearded face and beret were often devoid of deep meaning, but there was his image, and we wanted to make sense of it. Trying to understand global Che led us to the larger meanings of global Latin America. …

Che Guevara image on man's cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.
Che Guevara image on man’s cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.

We are often more familiar with the impact of the world on Latin America than with the impact of Latin America on the world. The three C’s Conquest, Colonialism, and Christianity provide a tortured, if better-known story, about how some parts of the world have exercised control over other parts. … Although the significance of Latin America for the rest of the world is not new or sudden, it is ever more apparent. The impact that Latin America has had in the other direction, even though unmistakable, has never been as familiar a narrative. This volume, like the others in the Global Square series, seeks to remind us that regions are not just victims but also global players.

Latin America in 2016 is home to emerging global powers. In 2016, even despite massive downturns economically, Brazil had the seventh largest economy in the world and Mexico was poised to break into the top ten. Latin America is tightly bound to regions from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to Europe, through commerce and trade, migration, and the arts. In political and economic terms, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are world leaders, part of the Group of 20 (G20) countries that have greatly expanded membership beyond the old geopolitical leadership of Europe, Japan, and the United States.

In Realpolitik, Latin American leaders from Argentina’s Carlos Menem to Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez have proposed that they are uniquely able to help to resolve global problems, from conflicts in the Middle East to energy to climate change to participatory democracy. Heavy manufacturing in Latin America is reshaping global auto, weapons, and airplane industries. Environmental measures in the enormous Amazon region, positive and negative, are central to global discussions of climate change. Truth commissions formed to document the abuses of past dictatorships in Latin America have become vital reference points for similar efforts from South Africa to Rwanda to Cambodia. …

GutmannLesser.GlobalLatinAmericaGlobal Latin America is for students, business leaders, policy makers, and global travelers interested in better understanding Latin America’s deep entanglements with and influence on our interdependent world. Chapters by academics, politicians, activists, journalists, scientists, and artists shine light on Latin American history, society, and culture. For those who want to appreciate the diversity and global relevance of Latin America in the twenty-first century, this volume collects some of the top scholarship and social analysis about global Latin America today and historically.

 


Julius Caesar, Pericles, and the Rise of Hitler

This post is published in conjunction with the Society for Classical Studies conference in Toronto as well as the American Historical Association conference in Denver, both taking place January 5-8.When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtags #AIASCS or #AHA17!


Much has been written about the conditions that made possible Hitler’s rise and the Nazi takeover of Germany, but when we tell the story of the National Socialist Party, should we not also speak of Julius Caesar and Pericles? Greeks, Romans, Germans argues that to fully understand the racist, violent end of the Nazi regime, we must examine its appropriation of the heroes and lessons of the ancient world. Below is an excerpt from author Johann Chapoutot’s introduction.

What strange mania could have pushed the leaders of the Nazi regime, in the midst of the twentieth century, to talk—and to talk so much—about the Greeks and Romans? Or to commission neoclassical works of art and publish articles on the Rome of the Fabii? Or to subject research and education on antiquity to such ideologically driven revisionism?

We think of National Socialism as the apotheosis of racism in both words and deeds. But racism is an exclusionary practice: it is the distinction between friend and enemy based on a strict biological determinism that, taken to extremes, separates those who get to survive from those who must perish—among both the living and the dead. The biological transmission of racial traits precludes any casual dalliance outside the kinship group, any genealogical digression, and demands extreme vigilance and severe patrilineal discipline. There may be several branches of the racial tree, but the integrity and purity of its rootstock must be verified historically. The Germans thus traced their line far back into the distant past of paleontology and the primeval forest (Urwald), through the Teutonic Knights and the Brothers of the Sword (Fratres Militiae Christi), Frederick the Great and Bismarck, to Hindenburg and, finally, Hitler—the chosen one of the prophets and acme of the race. . . . When Rosenberg and Hitler spoke of the Greeks as a “Nordic people,” they did not simply claim their heritage, but rather asserted a form of paternity that turned the concept of lineage on its head: what if they had all come from Germany? This appropriation of the Aryan myth, which had not previously circulated beyond a few nineteenth century German linguists and historians—who had wistfully imagined that the Dorians of Sparta came from the North—was legitimized and racialized by the Nazis in their desire to give credibility to the idea that Germany possessed such greatness that it had given birth to Western civilization. In this way, Rosenberg argued, imitating antiquity was neither “shameful nor incompatible with national dignity,” since it was actually a legitimate reassertion of Indo-Germanic cultural patrimony. . . .

National Socialism offered a myth. Its narration, by the state and its institutions—and especially its artistic and academic organizations—was presented as reality. Its lies were passed off as truth: Nazi discourse did not adapt to describe an external, objective reality; rather, discourse was shaped, internally and self-referentially, to fit the preconceived notions underlying the discourse itself. . . . It was not just the past, and the legitimate pride that one could take from it, that was at stake here, but the future as well. Germans’ new identity, built upon the Nazis’ version of antiquity, was at once a story of origins and an indication of future horizons.

In Greeks, Romans, GermansChapoutot analyzes a wide range of sources to show the Third Reich’s systematic appropriation of antiquity, including the canonical texts of National Socialist ideology, the speeches and theoretical writings, journals, memoirs, and “table talks” by Hitler, Rosenberg, Goebbels, Goering, and Himmler—the men who created and framed Nazi dogma.


Johann Chapoutot is Professor at the Sorbonne, where he teaches contemporary history.


The Rhythms of History

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Historical Association conference in Denver, January 5-8. When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag #AHA17!


by Jeremy Davies, author of The Birth of the Anthropocene

The American Historical Association’s annual conference begins today, and the panel I’d most like to attend is no. 142, “The Anthropocene in History,” chaired by John McNeill (I wrote about Prof. McNeill’s most recent book here). Being used to more modestly-sized British conferences, I’ve never seen an academic conference panel take place in a ballroom, as the programme claims this one will.

It’s an interesting title: “The Anthropocene in History.” Does the proposed new “Anthropocene” epoch of geological time really belong inside history? Or, on the contrary, does historical time belong inside geological epochs like the Anthropocene? Or neither? Perhaps instead we should think of historical and geological time units as coupled to but distinct from one another: they might weave together like, well, dancing partners.

If y9780520289970ou’re like Jedediah Purdy, and think that the Anthropocene means “the end of the division between people and nature,” then for you the Anthropocene obviously isn’t a historical concept (because when exactly were people divided from “nature” in a way that they aren’t today?). But if you’re a geologist, and you think that the Anthropocene can be dated to the year 1952, then you’re at odds with normal conceptions of history in a different way. If the Anthropocene began in 1952 then the geological epoch that preceded it, the Holocene, must have lasted from 9700 BC to AD 1952. That’s a much, much longer and yet much more specific periodization than the ones historians are usually comfortable with (compare, say, the “Gilded Age”). And you’re implying that the Anthropocene itself might run from 1952 until—when? AD 13,604?

Either way, can the Anthropocene really be made to fit “in” history? I think that all depends on what you mean by history. The geologists’ idea of the Anthropocene suggests that the planet has changed so radically in the last few centuries that a whole new chapter of geological time has begun. That new beginning will still be recognisable through changes in the fossil record in hundreds of thousands of years from now.

In other words, although it used to be practical and convenient to study the geological history of the Earth in one corner of a university, and to go somewhere else to study “history” in the only sense that matters to 99% of the panels at the AHA conference, that’s no longer the case. Now, the two have started treading on each other’s toes.

So I’m glad that there’s a panel on the Anthropocene at the AHA. It won’t be easy for geologists and historians to end up in each other’s arms, intellectually speaking, but it might be worth it.

One of the panellists is Julia Adeney Thomas, the author of a brilliant essay arguing that if historians of the human-sized world must now start listening to the slow music of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, that means they’d better also tune in to the microscopic level as well. 90% of the cells in your body are actually bacterial rather than “human,” Thomas notes, and this “microbial part of us” alters “with such rapidity that the number of bacteria, in the right conditions, can double every twenty minutes.” I like the idea of a ballroom in which so many clashing rhythms might all be heard at once. But then I’ve never been much of a dancer.


Jeremy Davies teaches in the School of English at the University of Leeds. His book The Birth of the Anthropocene is available now. For more of his writing on the anthropocene era, please visit Made Ground.

The New World History and a Brief History of the AHA

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Historical Association conference in Denver, January 5-8. When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag #AHA17!


by Ross E. Dunn, one of the editors of The New World History: A Field Guide for Teachers and Researchers

Teaching and research in world history began to manifest the characteristics of an intellectual movement in the immediate decades after World War II. The broad aim of The New World History, which UC Press published a few months ago, is to survey that movement’s growth and diversification from the postwar period to the present, including numerous observations on the role of the American Historical Association in those developments. Our volume, a collection of forty-four essays plus introductory reflections, includes contributions from the movement’s early thinkers. Marshall G. S. Hodgson’s 1954 article on hemispheric interregional history, a seminal exposition of his distinctive way of thinking about the whole human past, appears in The New World History. In 1959, Philip Curtin, who is also represented in our book, founded the University of Wisconsin’s program in comparative tropical history, the first graduate world history program in the United States. Four years later, William McNeill published The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community. In an essay reprinted in The New World History, McNeill ponders that achievement and how he might have done it differently twenty-five years later. Hodgson, Curtin, McNeill, and other scholars greatly enlivened the prospects of world history as an academic field. In fact, Curtin served as president of the AHA in 1983 and McNeill in 1985.

9780520289895Since the 1980s, the movement has inspired or encouraged many new institutions and programs, new periodicals, new theoretical formulations, and new disciplinary innovations such as global environmental history, transnational history, and big history. The founding of the World History Association in 1982 was a singular development, and the AHA generously supported it. The AHA hosted one of the WHA’s earliest organizational meetings, and for many years members gathered at the AHA convention, holding a winter business meeting and sponsoring panels. The AHA has recently honored two WHA members with the association’s presidency, Ken Pomeranz in 2013 and Pat Manning in 2016. Several WHA members, including myself, are attending this year’s Denver conclave partly to hear Manning’s presidential address and to recognize his singular contribution to the world history movement. I’m proud of the fact that Pat and I started graduate school together in Phil Curtin’s “The World and the West” course at Wisconsin. The New World History naturally includes a piece of Pat’s work. It’s a selection from his essential book Navigating World History that elucidates the theory and methodology of comparative world history. In all, nine contributors to our volume are on the AHA program, presenting papers or chairing panels.


The New World History is a comprehensive volume of essays selected to enrich world history teaching and scholarship in this rapidly expanding field. The forty-four articles in this book take stock of the history, evolving literature, and current trajectories of new world history. These essays, together with the editors’ introductions to thematic chapters, encourage educators and students to reflect critically on the development of the field and to explore concepts, approaches, and insights valuable to their own work. The selections are organized in ten chapters that survey the history of the movement, the seminal ideas of founding thinkers and today’s practitioners, changing concepts of world historical space and time, comparative methods, environmental history, the “big history” movement, globalization, debates over the meaning of Western power, and ongoing questions about the intellectual premises and assumptions that have shaped the field.

Ross E. Dunn is Professor Emeritus of History at San Diego State University, author of The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century, and coauthor of Panorama: A World History.

Laura J. Mitchell is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, author of Belongings: Property, Family, and Identity in Colonial South Africa, and coauthor of Panorama: A World History.

Kerry Ward is Associate Professor of History at Rice University and author of Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company.

 


Visit Our 2016 American Historical Association Exhibit in Atlanta!

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 American Historical Association Meeting. The meeting convenes January 7-10 in Atlanta, GA.

Please visit us at booth 608 in the Atlanta Hilton for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Our history list is comprised of an interdisciplinary selection of titles perfect for research and course usage. Please see our flyer at our booth for our latest offerings. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow AHA’s Facebook page@AHAhistorians and #AHA16 for current meeting news.


How did we do at the American Historical Association’s annual awards? Well, since you’ve asked…

Far be it for me to seem like I’m bragging, so here’s our history editor, Niels Hooper, with the good news:

Dear all,

UC Press has won 4 of the major prizes at the largest and most prestigious annual history conference, the American Historical Association. This is a remarkable success for any press. History is a massive field with all major university and trade presses publishing competitively in it (there are 125 presses exhibiting at this year’s meeting). Only two of these are mine … two are Reed’s … so I can brag on his behalf.

The winners are:

The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab by Farina Mir won the John F. Richards Prize for the most distinguished book of the year on South Asian History.

 

 

 

Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic by James H. Johnson won the George L. Mosse Prize for the most “outstanding major work of extraordinary scholarly distinction, creativity and originality in the intellectual and cultural history of Europe after the Renaissance.”

 

 

 

Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America by Leslie J. Reagan won the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize for the best book in Women’s History.

 

 

 

Golden-Silk Smoke: A History of Tobacco in China, 1550–2010 by Carol Benedict won the John K. Fairbanks Prize for the most outstanding book in the history of East Asia after 1800.

 

 

 

Congratulations to everyone who worked on these.
Thanks, Niels