Monday, April 11, 2011

Further development of my topic (hooray!)

Yay I’ve decided on a topic! So when rereading the directions for the blog and this paper (always a great idea, by the way), I realized how large the emphasis was on a “current” situation. That helped, because after talking to Dr. Jonakin in the business department I realized that my grand topic could be broken up into three categories, essentially: Spanish colonialism of Guatemala (and when I say “Guatemala” I probably mean Latin America, with special emphasis on Guatemala), post-colonialism in Guatemala (meaning what happened after liberation from Spain in the 19th century), and neocolonialism in Guatemala(/Latin America) with regard to the U.S. The latter would also hopefully go into the influx of immigrant workers to the US that started booming in the 90s (which was kind of the starting point in this train of thought because two of my good friends are workers from Guatemala). But to discuss each of these three distinct periods could have filled a while textbook. Alas, I do not wish to write a textbook at this point in my life, so I realized I’d have to choose one or two periods. And after rereading the rubric I found the decision clear! For this paper I will study Guatemala and Latin America from the time of liberation from Spain to present day; which means my two terms will be post-colonialism and neocolonialism. Dr. Jonakin lent me a book that looks very promising from the introduction. It’s called Empire’s Workshop, by Dr. Greg Grandin, and it looks at how the US used Latin America as essentially a “dress rehearsal” or practice for our take-over of other lands, or put another way, as the beginnings of the American empire. Grandin calls Latin America “the place where the United States elaborated tactics of extraterritorial administration and acquired its conception of itself as an empire like no other before it. The Western Hemisphere was the be the staging ground for a new ‘empire for liberty’”. In the latter part Grandin in quoting Thomas Jefferson. The book discusses the entire history of this plot, from FDR’s “good neighbor” proposal to imperial violence by proxy (funding and training native groups to wreak havoc upon their nation whether in the form of a governmental coup or acts of mass murder to subdue citizen protests). He also discusses some economic factors, the US using “soft power” – that is a non-military form of control, via ‘commerce, cultural exchange, and multilateral cooperation.” Yes, this book promises to give me a wealth of juicy postcolonial and neocolonial history and information. Though, I suspect I will have to find another brilliant source to enlighten me on the immigration story. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

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