Disciplinary Conquest

U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900–1945

Disciplinary Conquest

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: Published: April 2016

History > U.S. History, Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Disciplinary Conquest Ricardo D. Salvatore rewrites the origin story of Latin American studies by tracing the discipline's roots back to the first half of the twentieth century. Salvatore focuses on the work of five representative U.S. scholars of South America—historian Clarence Haring, geographer Isaiah Bowman, political scientist Leo Rowe, sociologist Edward Ross, and archaeologist Hiram Bingham—to show how Latin American studies was allied with U.S. business and foreign policy interests. Diplomats, policy makers, business investors, and the American public used the knowledge these and other scholars gathered to build an informal empire that fostered the growth of U.S. economic, technological, and cultural hegemony throughout the hemisphere. Tying the drive to know South America to the specialization and rise of Latin American studies, Salvatore shows how the disciplinary conquest of South America affirmed a new mode of American imperial engagement. 


"Not only a well-documented, nuanced, and challenging account, but also a rare and bold attempt to write the history of the hemisphere from South to North instead of from North to South, Disciplinary Conquest will hopefully be published also in Spanish and Portuguese and read by all practitioners in the field across the Americas and beyond." — Ori Preuss, Journal of Latin American Studies

"This is a welcome and ambitious project that takes us into the empirical aspects of US-Latin American relations from the perspective of informal empires, with an original emphasis on the role of knowledge in the con?guration of the powerful presence of the United States in the region. Extremely well documented and offering a narrative constructed from empirical data to make a point about hegemony, this book is a wonderful example of how situated knowledge can be explained in the structural context of inter-American relations." — H. Reuben Neptune, American Historical Review

"Disciplinary Conquests offers an excellent and incisive account of U.S. scholars, their interest in (and relationship with) South America, and the links between the work of these scholars, empire, and foreign policy." — Evan C. Rothera, Journal of Global South Studies

“[Salvatore] is, simply, a master raconteur. Disciplinary Conquest is essential reading for those with an interest in the evolution of inter-American relations.… It is a book that will assuredly warrant multiple rereadings.”

— Philip Chrimes, International Affairs

"Salvatore gives careful thought to how to theorize the power relationships embedded in scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences when a 'center' engages with a 'periphery' in an asymmetrical field of knowledge production. In doing so, he grapples with the relative autonomy of, yet fruitful symbiosis between, the intellectual concerns of his five scholars and their diverse political interests." — John Krige, Diplomatic History

"Authoritatively written, [Disciplinary Conquest] is both theoretically valuable and empirically rich in detailed historical research, essential reading for understanding the crucial role of educational asymmetry and US universities in shaping thought leadership and hegemonic relations in the Western Hemisphere during the twentieth century. . . . A pleasure to read, each page with surprises that enrich the author’s project; readers will admire the meticulous detail of his research." — Edgar J. Dosman, Latin American Research Review

"Disciplinary Conquest should be read by every scholar doing work in Latin America and teaching Latin American studies to undergraduate and graduate students. It is a valuable book that will promote intellectual debates about how we practice research and how our own aspirations lie within anything we write." — Yovanna Pineda, The Latin Americanist

"Ricardo Salvatore’s book provides a fascinating reframing of this important period of US policy toward Latin America, along with the history of the field of Latin American Studies in the United States." — Elizabeth Kuznesof, The Americas

"A welcome contribution to the recently revitalized subfields of intellectual history and the history of the human sciences in Latin America." — Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, Journal of Social History

"Truly admirable in its scope and depth, Salvatore’s analysis provides a convincing and detailed picture that broadens our understanding of inter-American relations, not to mention the emergence of the fields of sociology, geography, history, archaeology, and political science. . . . Disciplinary Knowledge will be of interest to intellectual history specialists and historians of Latin America, and should be required reading for Latin American Studies instructors, who may be inclined to re-think the emphasis on outdated 'problems' in their teaching once they understand the genesis of the approach." — Amelia Kiddle, Canadian Journal of History

"In this stunning book Ricardo D. Salvatore provides a major methodological, theoretical, and interpretive contribution to U.S. history, Latin American history, U.S.–Latin American relations, and intellectual history by analyzing the workings and complexities of cultural authority, interpersonal networks, and situated knowledges. A significant book by a major scholar."  — Emily S. Rosenberg, author of Transnational Currents in a Shrinking World: 1870–1945

"Disciplinary Conquest is certain to generate stimulating debates about the bonds between knowledge and empire and about U.S.–Latin American relations. Ricardo D. Salvatore opens important new paths for research about the nature of American empire in the twentieth century; the origins of Latin American studies; the ties between U.S. academics, government, and foreign policy; the roots of pan-Americanism; F.D.R.'s Good Neighbor Policy; and U.S. conceptualizations of modernization, development, and dependency in relation to Latin America. Intricate, wide-ranging, and provocative, this book should be read by all who study Latin America and anyone interested in knowledge, power, and empire." — Catherine C. LeGrand, coeditor of Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ricardo D. Salvatore is Plenary Professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires. He is the author of Wandering Paysanos: State Order and Subaltern Experience in Buenos Aires during the Rosas Era and coeditor of Crime and Punishment in Latin America: Law and Society Since Late Colonial Times, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction. Disciplinary Conquest  1

1. South America as a Field of Inquiry  17

2. Five Traveling Scholars  38

3. Research Designs of Transnational Scope  52

4. Yale at Machu Picchu: Hiram Bingham, Peruvian Indigenistas, and Cultural Property  75

5. Hispanic American History at Harvard: Clarence H. Haring and Regional History for Imperial Visibility  105

6. Intellectual Cooperation: Leo S. Rowe, Democratic Government, and the Politics of Scholarly Brotherhood  134

7. Geographic Conquest: Isaiah Bowman's View of South America  160

8. Worldly Sociology: Edward A. Ross and the Societies "South of Panama"  187

9. U.S. Scholars and the Queston of Empire  211

Conclusion  236

Notes  261

References  291

Index  313
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6095-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6081-0