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1998-1999 Seminar: The American Century in the Americas, 1898-1998

When Henry Luce prophesied an upcoming "American century-- America 's century as a dominant power in the world," in 1941, the US had already been exerting its influence in Latin America and beyond since the Spanish-Cuban-American War of 1898. As the century ends, the exploits of the Rough Riders are again being celebrated (the first in what will undoubtedly be a series of patriotic commemorations of 1898) and the project of "Americanization" is still very much alive.

Yet the US itself has also been transformed--by the processes that produced NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, and by the millions of migrants from the Southern Hemisphere and the Caribbean who have arrived with their languages, cultures, and political experiences and have challenged existing versions of national identity. Throughout the hemisphere notions of nationhood and nationality, citizenship and race are being recast not necessarily in a US mold, but by multidirectional flows of capital, culture, and politics. For the academic year 1998-1999, the CCACC will focus both on the history of US influence over those with whom it shares the adjective American and on the complex ways in which various American identities and institutions have been reciprocally determined by the political, economic, military, cultural and other traffics within the hemisphere.

Aiming at cultural expressions as well as political and economic interventions and at reciprocal as well as unidirectional effects, we propose to explore the following questions, among others. Between the "imperialism" of 1898 and the "globalization" of 1998, what has changed and what has not? Is globalization merely a synonym for Americanization? In what ways has it revitalized as well as undermined the agency of the state? What new resistances and solidarities have been provoked by the new transnational linkages? When media exposés and consumer boycotts take aim at conditions in the Honduran maquiladoras producing Kathie Lee Gifford's line of Wal-Mart clothing, what national as well as transnational interests are involved? Are the same interests behind confrontations with sweatshops in the US ? What is the political force of emergent Latino political and cultural identities, for example in opposition to the dominant culture's essentializing? What roles are played by transnational media and shifting hemispheric contexts in the formation of such identities? How does new Latin American literature that looks at the US relate to new Latino literature in the US ? In what ways does a term like "cultural imperialism" apply to a transnational system whose cultural and economic flows may not be isomorphic? What do terms like "postcolonial" and "postmodern" mean when transferred from North to Latin America ? What are the effects, at home and abroad, when movements for women's and gay rights cross national borders? How has narcotrafficking (re)connected and (re)configured the Americas ?

"The American Century in the Americas , 1898-1998" proposes a critical retrospective on the history of the Americas over the last hundred years as well as a reflection on the dramatic changes now under way and their implications for the new millennium. The range of scholarly interests invited is wide. Below is a list of general and suggestive topics. The CCACC encourages prospective fellows to develop any topic that is relevant to the general theme.

Migrations and their effects • The shaping of cultural identities • The literatures of the Americas • Racial politics in the Americas • The work and the discourses of development • Imperialism and globalization • Latina and U.S. feminisms • NAFTA: history, ideology and economic practice • Indigenous cultures, politics, ecologies • The causes and consequences of narcotraficking • Neo-liberalism in the Americas • Social movements and the political process • Latino/a identities and the political process • Crossing the Borders

Directors
Bruce Robbins (English) and Pedro Caban (Political Science, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies)

Faculty Fellows
Linda S. Bosniak (Law), Kim D. Butler (Africana Studies), Peter J. Guarnaccia (Human Ecology), Ben Sifuentes (Spanish and Portuguese), Jane Junn (Political Science), Silvio R. Waisbord (Communication), Carmen Teresa Whalen (History)

Graduate Fellows
Debra J. Liebowitz (Political Science), Jadwiga Pieper (History), John Shanahan (English), Christin Skwiot (History), Cathleen Willging (Anthropology)

Postdoctoral Associates
Susan Buck-Morss (Government, Cornell), Jeffrey Rubin (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)

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