Latin American and Related Sessions at the American Historical Association Meeting, December 27-30, 1984, Chicago, Ill.

Initialed session and committee meeting summaries were written by: Paul Ganster (San Diego State University); Gwendolyn Midlo Hall (Rutgers University); Asunción Lavrin (Howard University); Michael C. Meyer (University of Arizona); Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz (New York University); Harold E. Hinds, Jr. (University of Minnesota, Morris); Thomas Holloway (Cornell University); David A. Johnson (Portland State University); Rollie E. Poppino (University of California, Davis); Lawrence A. Clayton (University of Alabama); June E. Hahner (SUNY-Albany); Louis A. Pérez, Jr. (University of South Florida); Thomas F. O’Brien (University of Houston–University Park); Peter J. Bakewell (University of New Mexico); Paul W. Drake (University of California, San Diego); John J. TePaske (Duke University).

The Conference on Latin American History held its fifty-seventh annual business meeting at a breakfast on December 29, 1984, in Chicago, Illinois. Outgoing chairperson Richard Graham (University of Texas) presided.

Following the introduction of Conference officers and honored guests, Graham announced the results of the latest CLAH election. Michael Meyer (University of Arizona) will serve as 1985 Vice-Chairperson. Judith Ewell (College of William and Mary) and Barbara Tennenbaum (University of South Carolina) were elected to two-year terms on the General Committee.

The 1984 CLAH prize winners were then announced. The Herbert Eugene Bolton Memorial Prize for the best book in English published in the field of Latin American history during 1983 was awarded to Woodrow Borah (University of California, Berkeley), for Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real (University of California Press). Honorable Mention went to Florencia Mallon (University of Wisconsin) for The Defense of Community in Peru’s Central Highlands: Peasant Struggle and Capitalist Transition, 1860-1940 (Princeton University Press).

The Conference on Latin American History Prize, for the best article published in a journal other than the Hispanic American Historical Review, was awarded to Samuel L. Baily (Rutgers University) for “The Adjustment of Italian Immigrants in Buenos Aires and New York, 1870-1914,” American Historical Review (Apr. 1983).

The James Alexander Robertson Memorial Prize for the best article published in 1983 in the Hispanic American Historical Review went to Rebecca J. Scott (University of Michigan) for “Gradual Abolition and the Dynamics of Slave Emancipation in Cuba, 1866-1886,” HAHR, 63:3 (Aug. 1983). Honorable Mention was awarded to Magnus Mörner (Sweden) for “Economic Factors and Stratification in Colonial Spanish America with Special Regard to Elites,” HAHR, 63:2 (May 1983).

The James R. Scobie Memorial Award was not awarded. Instead, the General Committee determined that henceforth the deadline for applications would be February 15, with the award to be made in the spring.

Following the announcement of the CLAH prize winners, the chair introduced the distinguished guest speaker, Dr. François Chevalier (Professor Emeritus, the Sorbonne). Chevalier delivered an informative address entitled “Nuevas perspectivas y nuevos enfoques en la investigación histórica de América Latina.”

The meeting ended as Chairperson Graham passed the gavel to 1985 Chairperson Robert Potash (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

P. G.


For the panel “European Perceptions of Blacks. Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries,” chaired by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall (Rutgers University), Allison Blakeley (Howard University) presented a paper illustrated by slides, focusing on evolving images of Blacks in Holland, Surinam, Curacao, and South Africa expressed through folklore, the visual arts, and literature. The benevolent St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, accompanied on his rounds by a black companion called Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), believed to be a Moorish orphan, were indicative of positive images dating from the Middle Ages. Clearly articulated in Flemish and Dutch painting of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were varied, unstereotyped, dignified, and realistic images of Blacks. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with active Dutch participation in the slave trade, caricatured illustrations emerged in books and on maps. A sharp contrast is noted between negative images of Blacks in the colonies and more positive images in Holland. A. J. R. Russell-Wood (Johns Hopkins Uniuversity) presented slides of images of Blacks in Brazil, noting that visual art in that colony was rather scanty and little has survived. William Alexander (Howard University) dealt largely with intellectual concepts of Blacks during the late eighteenth century, tracing the roots of “scientific” racism largely to the Enlightenment. Comments by William B. Cohen (Indiana University) and others, and discussion, focused on, among other subjects, the image of the noble savage.

G. M. H.

The keynote speaker for the Centennial Session on Women’s History was Natalie Z. Davis (Princeton University). Davis examined the figures of Leopold Von Ranke and Jacob Burckhardt—founders of modern historiography—to determine to what degree their methodology, and the standards they set for historical research had contributed and could still contribute to the development of women’s history. The emphasis on documentary criticism and interpretation, the relation between particular and universal history, and the need for a new perspective to view the world, Davis remarked, are part of their legacy (albeit somewhat unwittingly) to the history of women.

Other participants in this session were: Linda Kerber (University of Iowa), Bonnie Smith (University of Rochester), Margaret Strobel (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Asunción Lavrin (Howard University), who chaired the session. Members of the panel commented on the state of the art of the history of women in their respective fields of interest, emphasizing either the contribution of some specific historians, or the result of recent historical research. The session was carried out in a large ballroom and was filled almost to capacity. Comments from the floor addressed the state of research on Asian women’s history.

A. L.

Michael C. Meyer (University of Arizona) chaired one of two special sessions organized by the American Academy of Franciscan History to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Fray Junípero Serra’s death. The session on “The Frontier of Northern New Spain, 1750-1825,” featured three papers: “The Enlightenment in Spain: Influences upon New World Policy,” by Iris Engstrand (University of San Diego), “Land Tenure Patterns in Northern New Spain, 1750-1825,” by Susan Deeds (University of Arizona), and “Demographic Change in Northwestern New Spain,” by Robert Jackson (University of California, Berkeley).

Engstrand’s paper considered some influences of the Enlightenment on the missionization of Alta California. Ironically, the establishment of these missions flew in the face of the preference of the Conde de Aranda and José de Galvez for eradicating the missions system altogether. Jackson considered the negative effects of missionization on Indian demography in Sonora and the two Californias. Susceptibility to disease induced by European pathogens was furthered by the stress of forced cultural change as well as the reduction of Indians in close quarters. Deeds examined the historiography of Hispanic landholding in the area of the Provincias Internas, finding a great variety of landholding patterns that were conditioned not only by the ecological circumstances of the largely arid north, but also by the growth of population and markets.

In his commentary, David J. Weber (Southern Methodist University) pointed out that Engstrand’s paper suggests how little we know about the impact of the Enlightenment on Spanish policy and practices in northern New Spain. He criticized Jackson for his failure to place properly his findings on the causes and nature of demographic change in historiographical context. Finally, he noted that Deeds’s paper demonstrated that the Chevalier model does not apply as neatly to the far north as we had believed; in its place, Deeds provided a useful framework of structural and nonstructural variables to explain the variety of landholding patterns in the region.

M. C. M.

In the session “Disease, Race, and War: Determinants of Household Structure in Urban Latin America. Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries,” various aspects of the population history of Latin America were presented for discussion. Suzanne A. Browne (Duke University) provided data from local visitas showing nuclear families with few children in three Indian villages of the Audiencia of Quito. The cases ranged from the mid-sixteenth century to 1620. Indentations in the age structure seem the result of local epidemics. Patricia Seed (Rice University) then followed changes in racial labelling from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. She made use of the marriage records of three central parishes in Mexico City. From a sample study of the 1810, 1827, and 1855 censuses, Mark D. Szuchman (Florida International University) derived finally several measures of the human losses endured in the city of Buenos Aires as a consequence of the Independence and civil wars of that period. Race and age appeared as major differentials in mortality. Comments were offered by Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz (New York University) and from the audience.

Also mentioned was the Latin American Population History Newsletter, the main vehicle of communication between institutions and individuals working on Latin American demographic history. A joint publication of the Conference on Latin American History and Caribbean Studies of New York University, the LAPH Newsletter is free upon request from the Department of History, New York University.

N. S.-A.

Harold E. Hinds, Jr. (University of Minnesota-Morris) chaired the session “The Emergence of Latin American Popular Culture at the Turn of the Century.” Susan E. Bryan’s (El Colegio de México) paper, “The Commercialization of the Theater in Mexico and the Rise of the Teatro Frívolo,” chronicled and analyzed the reorganization of theaters along strictly business lines and rise of new cultural forms of theater designed for mass consumption. Of particular note is music hall theater, or teatro frívolo, which contributed to the mass production and popularization of Mexican theater, and which derived a large part of its spectacle from the Spanish género chico and French operetta, as well as the local circus and puppet theater.

Steve Stein’s (University of Miami) paper, “Living Space, Social Control and the Urban Masses in Latin America: The Case of Soccer in Early Twentieth Century Lima,” traced the development of soccer among the Lima popular sectors between 1900 and 1930. Relating the rise of popular soccer to the massification of the city, the paper traced the tension between the emergence of the sport as a significant form of popular expression and its utilization by the dominant elites as a mechanism of social control. The author asserted that as soccer appealed to increasing numbers of lower-class players and spectators and contributed to the expansion of the living space of these groups, it progressively lost its autonomous character, as a result of successive moves toward institutionalization on the part of the dominant elite.

Commentator Joseph L. Arbena (Clemson University), while questioning Bryan’s definition of commercialization and Stein’s polarization of soccer as popular expression versus social control, emphasized the common focus of the papers on the efforts of emerging urban masses to create an atmosphere of festival and the often simultaneous expression of man as cultural imitator and innovator. Commentor William H. Beezley (North Carolina State University) praised both papers for their innovative approach to social history in Mexico and Peru. Beezley suggested that many aspects of the popular theater continued medieval folk traditions as described in the remarkable Rabelais and his World by Mikhail Bakhtin, and that the rise of sport in Peru reflects the social modernization discussed in From Ritual to Record by Allen Guttmann.

H. E. H.

The panel “Police and the People: Social Control in Latin American Cities” took place on December 28. Gabriel Haslip-Viera (City College of CUNY) was unable to present a paper as originally scheduled, and his proposed contribution, “Police Reform and Social Control in Late Colonial Mexico City” was replaced with a paper by Thomas Holloway (Cornell University), chair of the panel.

Holloway’s paper, “The Brazilian ‘Judicial Police’ System and its Application in Desterro, Santa Catarina, 1841–1871,” described the replacement of the colonial judicial system by a national police by 1841. Aggregate data on arrests, along with illustrative material from police reports, shows that slaves were arrested at a much higher rate than white citizens, and that the police spent much effort controlling urban slaves.

Sam Adamo (University of New Mexico), in “From Crime to Cooptation: Social Control of Nonwhites in Rio de Janeiro,” traced the policies of the dominant groups toward the lower, nonwhite population. A major change from the 1930s onward stressed positive aspects of such cultural contributions as Samba music and Carnaval, even tolerating Afro-Brazilian religions, rather than defining such distinctive cultural forms as deviant and marginal as in the previous period.

Lyman Johnson (University of North Carolina-Charlotte) discussed the police priorities reflected in the “Changing Arrest Patterns in Three Argentine Cities: Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Tucumán, 1900-1930.” Divergent trends in arrest rates by city and type of crime suggest that generalization from the North American and European examples is unwarranted for Argentina.

Robert Levine (University of Miami) provided insightful comments.

T. H.

The papers in the session “Political Generations in American History: Case Studies of Brazil, The United States, and Mexico” applied the concept of political generations to three different settings: Brazil (1808-68), the Far Western United States (1840-80), and Mexico (1880-1980). The intent was to provide a context for discussion of the utility, or lack thereof, of a generational analysis of political belief and behavior over time. The authors, given the nature of their material, followed different avenues in this respect. Roderick Barman’s (University of British Colombia) paper emphasized the sources and processes of generational formation within Brazil’s ruling circles during the nineteenth century. David Johnson (Portland State University) focused on the ideological convictions of the first-generation politicians of the Far West, and how these were (and were not) transformed over time. Roderick Camp (Central College) examined the relationship between generational ties and the special characteristics of Mexico’s political culture, with particular attention to the contours of that nation’s “decisive generations.”

Although sparsely attended (approximately ten persons made up the audience) the session enjoyed a lively discussion, due, above all, to Robert Oppenheimer’s (University of Kansas) discussion of the papers. In his commentary, he challenged the discussants to define their purpose more precisely and, most important, to address the question of generations, and political culture, with more attention to the social—as opposed to the formally political—origins and characteristics of the political organizations and belief-systems with which they were concerned. The ensuing discussion embraced a variety of the concerns raised by the commentary; for example, the relative importance of familial background and articulated belief to political allegiances; the nature of the links between society and polity; and the balance between a focus on nation or local community in political history.

D. A. J.

For the session “Reform and Modernization of the Brazilian Army” Frank D. McCann (University of New Hampshire) departed somewhat from his announced subject to speak not only on Hermes de Fonseca but also on the two Brazilian war ministers who preceded him in the twentieth century. McCann’s talk dealt with successive plans to reorganize and professionalize the Brazilian army, with special attention to German influence on the Brazilian military before the First World War. Lawrence H. Hall (New York University) spoke on Pandiá Calógeras, the only civilian war minister in the Brazilian Republic (1919-22). Hall stressed Calógeras’s successful efforts to provide new permanent quarters for military units, and the arrangements for and the impact of the French Military Mission to Brazil. Robert A. Hayes (Texas Tech University), the commentator, did not take exception to the observations of either speaker, but sought to place their remarks in a broader context by speaking on the organization of the Brazilian armed forces before and after the period covered by the formal papers. During the open discussion period, comments from the audience focused largely on definitions of military professionalism and the political role of the Brazilian army.

R. E. P.


Andean Studies Committee—The Committee met on December 28, 1984. Lawrence A. Clayton (University of Alabama) presented a summary of recent planning for the quincentennial celebration of the discovery of America. His comments, “The Columbian Exchange: Five Hundred Years Later,” were based largely on the proceedings of a meeting held earlier in the fall at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin. This meeting, planned by Helen Nader (Indiana University) and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Indiana University, and Ohio State University, brought together historians, movie makers, archivists, librarians, representatives of congressional committees, major foundations, and others to discuss plans for the commemoration of the Columbian voyages and their meaning and significance in world history.

Those who commented on the subject recalled how many different points of view exist on the meaning of discovery: from the very proud sensibility of Spaniards and Spanish descendants in the Americas, to the Native American remembrance of the conquest as a day of mourning, “un día de luto.”

The Committee elected as officers for 1985-86 Kenneth Andrien (Ohio State University) as Chairman and Erick D. Langer (Carnegie-Mellon) as Secretary.

L. A. C.

Committee on Brazilian Studies—The annual meeting, chaired by June E. Hahner (SUNY-Albany), featured a round table discussion on “Recent Research in Brazil,” with presentations by Michael Conniff (University of New Mexico), Steven Topik (University of California, Irvine), Nancy Priscilla Naro (Universidade Federal Fluminense), and June E. Hahner.

In his overview of historical studies in Brazil and the United States, Conniff pointed to the production of some high quality work, despite the effects of academic hard times. Publications on slavery have reached a high level of sophistication; economic history, especially that of south-central Brazil, is expanding rapidly; and the abertura has generated interest in previously untouched topics.

Topik discussed the growing number of studies in Brazilian economic and socioeconomic history, pointing to increasing professionalism in the field and expansion in university history programs. The majority of those writing economic history in Brazil, however, are economists, not historians, who tend either to follow a revised dependency approach or to be neoclassically trained and produce economic history to prove their economic theories. At the same time that economists are becoming more empirically based and sensitive to the socioeconomic context, historians are becoming more economically minded. Local studies have grown in number, although, unfortunately, most such works, especially empirical ones, have not been published.

Naro concentrated on the rising interest among cariocas in studying their own history, describing the interdisciplinary approach and different topics being investigated. Such major projects as the renovation of the Biblioteca Nacional and the move of the Arquivo Nacional to larger quarters reflect an interest in preserving, not destroying, the national memory. Other historical institutions in Rio de Janeiro like the Arquivo da Cidade have organized seminars and evening sessions. Naro described research projects and activities under way at the Casa de Rui Barbosa, Universidade Federal Fluminese, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Museu da República, Centro de Pesquisa e Documentacão de História Contemporañea do Brasil (CPDOC), and the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, in what she termed a euphoric period of change.

Hahner analyzed the recent outpouring of publications on women and their roles and activities within Brazilian society, which has accompanied the development of a small but active feminist movement and a general increase in publishing activities in Brazil as the redemocratization process gains strenth. The new scholarship she described, as well as popular works, concentrates on women in the work force, politics, the family, and sexuality, with the first by far the predominant area of interest and the last the fastest growing.

In the discussion that followed, Robert Levine (University of Miami) suggested the establishment of a network of correspondents in different Brazilian cities to compile bibliographic information that otherwise would escape our attention, since the results of much research in Brazil so often are disseminated only locally.

J. E. H.

Caribe-Centro America Studies Committee—Harold Sims (University of Pittsburgh) and Theodore Schwab (University of Pittsburgh): presented a paper on “Nicaraguan-Soviet Bloc Relations: An Analysis,” in which they examined emerging—and shifting—foreign policy currents during the early years of the Nicaraguan Revolution, and specifically relations between the Sandinista government and the Soviet-bloc nations. Emphasis was given to trade patterns and aid among Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Nicaragua. Foreign assistance includes teachers, medical personnel, and military aid. The authors developed the argument that Soviet-bloc aid has increased substantially in such diverse areas as hydro-electric projects, thermo-power, port construction and harbor dredging, oil exploration, wheat subsidies, and military equipment. In examining Nicaraguan relations with COMECON nations, the authors conclude that Nicaragua has become progressively dependent on the Soviet bloc for vital goods and services.

L. A. P.

Chile-Río de la Plata Committee—The meeting was presided over by Lyman Johnson (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), and focused on the question of Argentine immigration. Professor Sam Baily (Rutgers University) discussed tentative conclusions from his most recent research, which examines the differences between Spanish and Italian immigrants to Argentina. Baily argued that while Spaniards and Italians tend to be grouped together in the literature on immigration, important differences may have existed. The evidence suggests that Italians may have enjoyed advantages in a number of areas including literacy, occupational skill levels, as well as the fact that they benefited from a better set of community structures, including schools, clubs, and banks. This last factor was in part the result of the differing pace of immigration, with most Italians arriving before 1900, while nearly 43 percent of the Spanish immigrants came in the period from 1900 to 1910. This pattern allowed the Italians to build community infrastructure gradually in Argentina, while the smaller Spanish community faced a sudden surge of immigrants that strained its resources in the first ten years of the twentieth century.

Baily’s remarks were complemented by a paper from Georgette Dorn (Library of Congress). Dorn examined both the secondary literature and archival materials that are pertinent to the subject of Argentine immigration. Particularly revealing was her discussion of statistical data and documents available at the Library of Congress. Her paper provided the basis for the discussion that followed the presentations. Much of that discussion focused on possible sources for further research on the issues that Baily had raised.

T. F. O’B.

Mexican Studies Committee—The business of the committee meeting for 1984 was the presentation of short papers on Mexican regional historiography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Stuart F. Voss (SUNY, Plattsburgh) and Gilbert M. Joseph (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Voss emphasized the differences of viewpoint necessarily taken by regional historians as opposed to students of national or international history. Regionalists should take long time periods, should seek complex interrelationships and multilayered causes, and should seek to be inclusive within their regions. Voss then went on to discuss gaps and strengths in the historiography of northwestern Mexico, addressing also questions of sources.

Joseph described the present state of sources for the history of Yucatán, mentioning various recent efforts to improve the accessibility and quality of those sources. He then proceeded to discuss various concrete issues in the regional historiography of Yucatán for the past century. (Interested readers should refer to his article on the same lines in HAHR, 65:1 [Feb. 1985].)

A lively discussion of issues raised ensued between the panelists and the audience.

P. J. B.

Projects and Publications Committee—The Committee, chaired by Paul W. Drake (University of California, San Diego), met on Friday, December 28. In addition to Committee members, Robert Potash (University of Massachusetts), Paul Ganster (San Diego State University), and John Hebert (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress) also attended. They considered five proposals that had been submitted. Although they found significant merit in all the proposals, financial constraints meant that only the most compelling one could be subsidized by CLAH.

  1. It was agreed that CLAH would support a new ten-year index to the Hispanic American Historical Review, to be published as the February 1986 issue of the Review.

  2. A suggestion for a new guide to Latin American films for classroom usage was also warmly received, but, given the likely constituency, the Committee decided to pursue this idea with LASA and CLASP. Two members felt that some Latin American Studies Centers could make a valuable contribution to the profession by producing an annually updated guide and by accumulating film and video materials for widespread rental.

  3. The Committee was sympathetic to a call for the microfilming of more Latin American newspapers but concluded that the most CLAH could do would be to encourage the Center for Research Libraries and the Library of Congress to take on especially worthy cases proposed by individual scholars. Those wishing to see particular newspapers microfilmed should contact John Hebert at the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress.

  4. The need for publishing more document series elicited a similar reaction that individual historians, groups, and presses would have to take the initiative, although CLAH could endorse certain endeavors. Without getting entangled in the intellectual, editorial, or financial aspects, the regional committees might want to initiate the organization of such collections.

  5. A plan for grants for visiting professorships was also applauded in the abstract but rejected as too costly and cumbersome for CLAH.

Near the end of the meeting, two new projects were placed on the table for future discussion: a new volume of essays on teaching Latin American history and a bibliography of graduate theses written in Brazil. The Committee also underscored its interest in hearing from any CLAH member with comments or suggestions for feasible proposals. Although the organization can seldom provide financial support, it can offer advice and its stamp of approval. In order to consult and report more efficiently, the Committee agreed to meet henceforth before the convening of the CLAH General Committee.

P. W. D.

Historical Statistics Committee—The Committee met December 27, 1984, with John Coatsworth (University of Chicago) chairing the meeting in the absence of the chair, John J. TePaske (Duke University).

The chairs report to the Committee states that the proposed Conference on Latin American Historical-Fiscal Statistics being planned with UNAM has now received enough sound proposals so that plans can go forward for holding the symposium, most likely in Mexico City some time late in 1985 or early in 1986. Sammy Schmidt (UNAM) and the chair are seeking funding for this meeting. More definite word about the dates and paper topics will be circulated in the Historical Statistics Newsletter and the CLAH Newsletter.

The Peruvian colonial price history project being planned by Noble David Cook (University of Bridgeport) and Kendall Brown (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina) has passed through another stage. Cook spent the fall semester in Lima on a Fulbright Fellowship and surveyed the sources and repositories available for developing a price history of various regions of colonial Peru. He also had preliminary discussions with interested Peruvian scholars so that a joint effort might be undertaken to generate the proposed price series and a firm project proposal written.

A year ago the Committee made two project suggestions—one for the development of a loose-leaf, how-to-do-it guide for historians on techniques for establishing economic indicators such as price indices and other aids and a second for development of a handbook of weights, measures, coinage for the colonial period. Progress has been made on the latter. With the help of a few colleagues, the chair has begun adding to the body of material already collected on coinage, weights, measures, values, and so forth. Again he solicits new data from members of the Committee and from members of CLAH who have collected such material and are willing to make it available.

The closing of the Inter-American Statistical Institute Library and the end to publication of América en cífras has closed off important research resources for Latin American historians. At the urging of James Wilkie (UCLA), the chair wrote to Alejandro Orfila, Secretary General of the OAS, protesting this action.

Because of the limited attendance at the meeting, however, the question of the editorship of the Historial Statistics Newsletter remained unresolved. Professor Fritz Schwaller has asked to be relieved of his editorial duties, at least for 1985. In the meantime, all items for the Newsletter may be sent to John J. TePaske, History Department, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.

J. J. TeP.