In this book, Ricardo Salvatore quarries the history of knowledge; his scale is hemispheric. Disciplinary Conquest is about how five American scholars managed to prevail over—to “conquer”—fields of research in South America. The case studies are the historian Clarence H. Haring, the political scientist Leo S. Rowe, the geographer Isaiah Bowman, the sociologist Edward A. Ross, and the explorer and archaeologist Hiram Bingham. This troupe of hemisphere-trotting scholars founded Latin American studies in the United States. Their institutions and networks buoyed an academic parallel to Pan-American diplomacy.

Salvatore uses the word conquest because, he argues, these scholars parlayed “disciplinary knowledge” to advance “a continuation of US hemispheric diplomacy through other means” (p. 1). Since the production of knowledge is, for Salvatore, a way of ordering the world, they serviced the informal side of an empire. Just as Latin America was plagued by...

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