Asking Latin Americanists to think about their region in the context of world history provokes an anxious sort of tallying. Does Latin America receive adequate attention in world history courses and textbooks? Within that query lies a justified suspicion: world history as taught in the United States does often relegate Latin America to abbreviated sections and asides, particularly in pre-columbian and postcolonial eras.1 This is not a simple oversight, easily redressed by drawing the field’s gaze southward. It is rather, I think, the product of an incomplete theorization of the narrative frames of ignorance. Latin America and other marginalized places might be better served—and the history of the world better conveyed—by rewriting the fundamental story.

The teaching of world history is the site of recurring struggle in the United States over the nation’s relationship to the rest of the world: what it...

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