It will surely come as no surprise that a closer look at the work of United States historians writing on South America reveals very much the same broad characteristics that John Johnson has sketched in his overview of research and writing on modern Latin America generally. Those members of our profession who have worked on Brazil, Chile, or Venezuela have been trained in the same universities and exposed to the same topical and methodological trends or fancies as those working on Mexico, Cuba, and Costa Rica. A review of the historical literature concerning the South American countries can, however, also tell us something about changing levels of interest among United States scholars in particular countries—and whether the general tendencies are more evident in the work on some than on others, as does in fact seem to be the case.
Until the close of World War I, to be sure, the same topical and methodological trend was evident in the treatment of all South American countries: a trend of non-treatment of their modern experience in the sense in which “modern” is used by Johnson, referring to the period from the 1850s to the present. Such coverage as the modern period received came principally in general histories, including the Latin-American Republics series published by Charles H. Sergei and Co. of Chicago within ten years of the founding of the American Historical Association. One entry in that series was the classic History of Peru by Sir Clements R. Markham; but there were a number of others, by North American authors, on Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. The authors in question were not licensed members of the historians’ guild, yet the works were not without merit, and the Chilean entry, for example, by Anson U. Hancock, devoted almost half its pages to the years from 1850 to 1892.1
If we take (and why not?) inclusion in Latin America: A Guide to the Historical Literature as rough indication that a work has lasting professional value, then the serious beginning of modern South American history in this country can be dated from 1920, the year of publication of John H. Williams’s Argentine International Trade under Inconvertible Paper Money, 1880-1900.2 Williams was an economist whose book appeared in the Harvard Economic Studies, but algo es algo, and probably his work has been cited more often over the years by historians than fellow economists. The next year brings another Guide entry by someone not a professional historian, though much read by historians, the geographer George M. McBride, whose brief study of Bolivian Indian communities antedated his better-known works on land tenure and related matters in Mexico and Chile.3 The first card-carrying historians, however, made their mark in the same year, 1921, and in 1922, with articles in the Hispanic American Historical Review: Percy A. Martin on the fall of the Brazilian monarchy and Osgood Hardy on the Itata incident between the United States and Chile.4 Though not deemed Guide-worthy, another article by Professor Martin, on United States-Brazilian relations, had been the one item on modern South America in the entire first volume (1918) of the Review.5
The items just mentioned all exemplify in some way what would continue to be salient characteristics of historiographical production for the next two decades, until World War II. Contrary to a widespread assumption that any kind of nonpolitical history was long neglected by Latin Americanists, a substantial portion of the total output was on economic questions, including such classics as J. Fred Rippy’s The Capitalists and Colombia6 and Simon G. Hanson’s Argentine Meat and the British Market.7 And, just as much of the writing on economic history concerned international economic relations, questions of international law and diplomacy received significant attention as well, as anticipated by the Hardy and second Martin articles already cited. A further classic that has probably been more read in the past two and a half years than in all the rest of the elapsed time since its first publication is Julius Goebel’s The Struggle for the Falkland Islands, which appeared in 1927.8 Lawrence F. Hill’s not quite so classic Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Brazil9 is one more reflection of the emphasis on international relations, which was natural enough at a time when interest in Latin America for its own sake was weak and when, in light of the greater difficulty of travel and lesser availability of research funding as compared to later times, there was much to be said for topics on which many of the primary sources were readily accessible in the United States. It is no doubt significant, too, that all the articles (a mere three) on modern South America in the first three volumes of the Hispanic American Historical Review had to do with external relationships of some sort.10
The Hill volume and both Martin articles reflect the fact that between the wars Brazil loomed larger in United States historical studies than one might gather from another widespread assumption: that because of language deviance Brazil never received anything like its due until Title VI programs in Portuguese were launched in the 1960s in the hope of keeping that country from going the way of Cuba. Brazil was neglected in comparison with Mexico and no doubt also in relation to its intrinsic importance, but it was the subject of roughly a third of the modern South American items published by United States authors through 1940 that appear in the Guide. It was hardly ignored, and it actually fared better than it has so far—admittedly by a different system of measurement—in the 1980s. (See below.)
The attention given to modern South America visibly increased during the decade of World War II and its aftermath; public interest in Latin America may have lagged soon after the war, but specialists drawn to the area under the influence of the Good Neighbor Policy and wartime hemispheric euphoria continued to write. On the other hand, if Guide listings can be taken once more as a criterion, fewer writings of the 1940s than of the 1930s (twelve as against seventeen) have stood the test of time, suggesting that there may have been in the former case an excessive concern with ephemeral topics. Then, in the 1950s, the number of items published again rose sharply, and they included a significant number of path-breaking studies, such as Stanley Stein’s Vassouras and Edwin Lieuwen’s history of Venezuelan petroleum, both singled out by John Johnson in his general review of the literature, not to mention Stein’s other major study of Brazilian textile manufacturing, which he did not cite.11 All this was laying the basis for the historiographic explosion of the 1960s and after, in which the quantity of publications began to expand far too rapidly for any one individual to keep track of them and, increasingly, they exhibited the characteristics of a veritable “North American school,” in which our traditional positivism was overlaid with (but not exactly obliterated by) a strong social-scientific and quantitative orientation.
The transitional decade of the 1950s brought us still another work that John Johnson modestly refrains from mentioning but that needs to be introduced somewhere in these proceedings. Though it makes reference to the early nineteenth century and to Mexico, the bulk of its pages concern a sample of South American countries from the 1850s to the time of writing, so I can fairly lay claim to discuss it. I refer, of course, to Johnson’s own Political Change in Latin America: The Emergence of the Middle Sectors.12 For some years it has been fashionable to dismiss this work as a simplistic and dated effort to equate the growth of a middle class (or, as Johnson insists on saying, “middle sectors”) with the creation of conditions for social and political democracy. The conventional point to make is that the book provided historiographical rationalization for the Alliance for Progress in the same way that the Bolton “History of the Americas” approach did for the Good Neighbor Policy. Now that military rule and bureaucratic authoritarianism appear to be entering an at least temporary eclipse, perhaps we should be dusting off and rereading Johnson while consigning Guillermo O’Donnell and company to the back shelves for a while. In a longer perspective, though, what strikes me as most important about Political Change in Latin America is its attempt to write explicitly comparative political history, in terms of a no less explicitly stated conceptual framework. This was something no one had done before, though Harry Bernstein’s Modern and Contemporary Latin America,13 another product of the 1950s, came close. It makes Johnson’s study a direct forerunner of, say, the recent Skidmore-Smith text,14 however much the latter’s conceptual framework with its admixture of later dependency theory may differ. There were weak points, too, in the Johnson book, as in most landmark studies, but I personally would fault the author less for wishful thinking or occasional imprecision than for failure to include among his case studies Venezuela, the one country that most clearly bears out that there is a relationship between growth of a middle class and middle-of-the-road democracy. Since the book was written in the days of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, he can nevertheless be forgiven for missing this insight.
The work just referred to was also unusual for the mere fact that it was a non-textbook treatment of modern Latin America that dealt with more than a single country. In this respect, Johnson built upon his own example with his subsequent The Military and Society in Latin America, 15 but few others have done so, apart from those scholars who have written on intraSouth American international relations. Robert Burr, with his model treatment of the Pacific Coast balance of power, and Leslie B. Rout, author of the standard study of the Chaco peace conference, are two obvious examples of the latter.16 Then too, a very few scholars have offered comparative treatments of a given topic in two different countries: here two obvious examples are Carl Solberg’s on immigration and the work of Karen Remmer on parties and political recruitment, in each case dealing with the same two countries, Argentina and Chile.17 For the rest, the overwhelming majority of authors write on one country at a time and often as not on that same country over and over again, exactly as do the historians of the Latin American countries themselves. This is no doubt regrettable, but it is a fact of life; and since Johnson has discussed the greatly increased production of the last quarter century in continental overview without attempting to characterize the scholarly production on individual nations, in the rest of this article I propose to follow a vertical as distinct from horizontal approach, looking at the work of United States specialists on a country-by-country basis. I shall speak mainly of what has been done from the 1960s to the present, though with a few backward glances.
As a preliminary step, it may be appropriate to observe the relative emphases that different South American countries have received. We have all seen maps in which the sizes of states, countries, or continents are grossly distorted—facetiously or to prove a serious point—in such a way as to represent not their true physical size but the notions people have of their importance. A familiar example is offered by those maps of the hemisphere that show a huge United States hovering over a scaled-down, thoroughly intimidated Latin America. If we were to perform a similar exercise to reflect the vision of South America currently projected by United States historians, it would show Brazil barely larger than Argentina and roughly equal to the combined areas of Chile and Peru. The other countries would be slightly over or under their actual size, except for Ecuador, which would again lose half its territory, this time by reason of North American neglect rather than war or diplomacy. At least such is the map that results if the countries are drawn in proportion to the number of articles by United States historians on, and reviews of books by United States historians concerning, modern South America that have appeared in the Hispanic American Historical Review during the most recent five-year period (1980-84).18 If, of course, we compare the volume of historical writings with characteristics other than land area, even more glaring disparities appear. In relation to population, Colombia should be the subject of as many or more books and articles than Argentina instead of roughly one-third as many; while in relation to Gross Domestic Product, the writings on Venezuela should be more than twice those on Peru rather than marginally less, as is the case. Naturally the results would be different, too, if we looked at any preceding five-year period, but at least since 1950 the general pattern seems rather consistent. (Before 1950, the samples are too small to prove much.) The most recent five years are atypical mainly in that Brazil’s total is so low in comparison with the top Spanish American countries, though in 1950-54 by the same system of measurement Brazil actually did not even rank first. In those years United States historians were showing more interest in Perón’s Argentina.19
Regardless of whether Brazil has received a fair share of attention, its sheer size and complexity have been conducive to the creation of a highly varied body of historical writing. For obvious reasons, one major focal point has been the history of slavery and race relations, which has attracted the attention even of a number of United States historians who are not purely Latin Americanists: Carl Degler’s Neither Black Nor White inevitably comes to mind.20’ The process of abolition, furthermore, is the subject of full-length books by Robert Conrad and Robert B. Toplin21 plus a wide array of articles, curiously without anything that approaches a definitive treatment yet having appeared. Another focus of scholarly interest for many years was nineteenth-century Brazil’s other “peculiar institution,” the monarchy, featured in the pioneering article by Martin mentioned above and in the oft-maligned Dom Pedro the Magnanimous of Mary W. Williams.22 Williams may well have been overly charitable to her subject, as biographers sometimes are, but hers was still one of the first major studies of a postindependence political figure of any Latin American country. In recent years the story of the Brazilian monarchy in its own right has lost some of the earlier fascination, but the story of its fall has proved quite durable, merging easily with the Brazilian segment of the scholarly boom (in the 1960s and after) of work on the political role of the Latin American military. Here June Hahner’s contributions well illustrate the point.23
The field of Brazilian history has seen a flowering of regional studies surpassed only in the literature on Mexico. One notable fact is that the work on the economic history of Brazil, which is relatively abundant and of high quality, is almost invariably regional in focus, as if the total Brazilian economy were too much for any historian to handle. We thus have the two Stein volumes on coffee in Vassouras and textiles in São Paulo, Warren Dean’s subsequent The Industrialization of São Paulo, 1880-1945,24 and Peter Einsenberg’s examination of sugar in Pernambuco, whose subtitle Modernization without Change suggests the author’s concern with larger social issues.25 We also have Thomas Holloway’s recent study of the São Paulo coffee frontier,26 which provocatively challenged much accepted wisdom on the nature of the coffee industry and even suggested that the hoary distinction between large-plantation coffee in Brazil and small-farmer coffee in Colombia had been overdrawn from the Brazilian end as well as the Colombian. (Will a Joao Valdez now appear in Brazilian coffee advertising?) Regionalism is not limited, however, to the literature on economic and social history. It is a trio of Brazilianists— Joseph Love, Robert Levine, and John D. Wirth—who have given us an exemplary set of studies of regional politics in São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Pernambuco,27 incorporating meticulous research of the traditional variety with collective biography and quantification to become methodological as well as conceptual models for other historians to follow. These men alone would be enough to establish modern Brazil as one of the bright spots in United States historiography of Latin America, but naturally they are not alone. Here it will have to suffice to point out that significant works have been written on republican politics at the national level as well (such as Thomas Skidmore’s Politics in Brazil)28; on international relations (as in Richard Graham’s examination of economic and cultural relations with Great Britain and the more strictly political and diplomatic studies of Bradford Burns, Stanley Hilton, and Frank McCann29); on feminism (by Hahner again30); on banditry and folk religion (as in the work of Billy J. Chandler and Ralph Della Cava31); and much else besides. It is even hard to escape the suspicion that, all things considered, the work on Brazil is not only remarkably comprehensive but of higher average quality than that on other countries of modern South America. Could it be that the initial hurdle of having to learn a nonstandard language weeds out some less dedicated scholars?
The writings on Argentina are somewhat less varied than those on Brazil, if only because the country itself is more homogeneous, but, as pointed out before, they are remarkably numerous. No Latin American country is farther removed from the United States, but this has not seriously diminished the level of interest among scholars, some of whom were drawn to it as much by the lure of bifes and Buenos Aires cultural activities as by the intrinsic importance of the subject. (Having chosen Argentine history as a sideline, I know of what I speak.) This does not mean that people cannot produce good work even sometimes for the wrong reasons. An example is the history of Argentina by Ysabel Rennie, justly praised by Johnson. As a Radcliffe senior majoring in Romance languages, Rennie had won a traveling fellowship that permitted her to go anywhere at all. She was mainly interested in France, but, inconveniently, World War II had broken out, so she frankly picked the Latin American city that she thought would most resemble Paris. She was quickly captivated by Argentina and its history—and she knew how to write.32 For many years, however, Argentina’s ostensible role as rival to the United States within the Inter-American system also attracted attention to the Platine republic, as in the work of two of this country’s premier Argentinists, Arthur P. Whitaker and Thomas McGann. Both left significant studies on United States—Argentine relations, though they were really more interested in the political and socioeconomic determinants of Argentine attitudes than in diplomacy per se, and they also wrote general treatments of Argentine history and current problems.33
Race relations have naturally loomed less large in the writing on Argentina than Brazil—George Reid Andrews’s study of the Afro-Argentines is the obvious exception34—but immigration has just as naturally loomed larger. The works on this topic range from Carl Solberg’s general comparison of Argentina with Chile to the recent studies of marriage patterns and assimilation or nonassimilation among immigrant groups by Mark Szuchman and Samuel L. Baily.35 They further encompass studies of specific immigrant communities such as Ronald Newton’s history of the German-Argentines, which skillfully blends political, cultural, and socioeconomic analysis.36 Surely the most notable contribution, however, on social and demographic aspects of modern Argentine history is James Scobie’s Buenos Aires: Plaza to Suburb, 1870-1910, which shares honors (as Johnson points out) with Richard Morse’s work on São Paulo as one of the two major studies of Latin American cities by United States historians, but that, unlike its Brazilian counterpart, focuses strictly on the years during which a world-class metropolis suddenly emerged.37 Scobie would have produced a companion study on a group of interior cities if that work had not been cut short by his death, but he also made many other contributions to Argentine historical literature, usually with an emphasis both on the modern period and on social and economic themes. His survey text of Argentina is the entry in the Oxford Univeristy Press Latin American Histories Series that pays least attention to preindependence background, while its disdain for political detail is suggested by the fact that the name of Mariano Moreno appears only in the chronological appendix.38 In his preference for more recent history, Scobie mirrored the concerns of the great majority of United States Argentinists, so that the seemingly disproportionate emphasis on Argentina that I alluded to is perhaps misleading: in a computation of work on all periods of Latin American history, Argentina would not rank so high.
The problems of Argentine economic policy and development—with an early takeoff followed by prolonged stagnation and sectoral wrangling—have continued to attract a sizeable group of North American scholars, including economists with an interest in economic history. As compared with those studies of the Brazilian case, their works have been less regionally based, despite the example of Donna Guy’s on the sugar industry of Tucumán.39 There are overall economic histories by Carlos F. Díaz Alejandro and Laura Randall,40 which have sparked controversy by assailing pet interpretations of Argentine leftist and nationalist writers, and there is a plethora of studies of particular industries—railroads, oil, above all beef. Hanson’s early work on Argentine meat exports to Great Britain was later matched by Peter H. Smith’s study of the internal political ramifications of the livestock industry that bears the distressingly uncharismatic title Politics and Beef in Argentina.41 (By contrast, note the alliterative excitement of Charles Bergquist’s comparable Coffee and Conflict in Colombia.42) Even so, Smith was a pioneer in the use of political science concepts and method not just for Argentina but for the larger study of Latin American history, and in this respect he built upon his own example with The Failure of Democracy in Argentina, a work that some valued for its quantitative methodology, some for its conclusions, and some for both; but one that became an obligatory point of reference for any discussion of Argentina’s recurrent political malaise.43
Important work in the field of twentieth-century political history has also come from David Rock and Richard Walter, who have treated the Radicals, the Socialists, and a number of related matters.44 As might further be expected, the twin pillars of the original Perón regime, organized labor and the military, have received special attention from a number of historians, including Baily again and Hobart Spalding in the former case 45 and, most significantly, Robert Potash in the latter.46 Potash does not have even a close rival among United States Argentinists in volume of sales of his works in Spanish translation. At home, his two volumes on the twentieth-century Argentine military in politics have been widely praised yet sometimes criticized for a seeming reluctance to offer conclusions or to contribute explicitly to the formation of theory (that “superstition in a new form” in the words of Jacques Barzun47). It is hard to imagine anyone attempting to cover the same ground again in the foreseeable future, however, and if traditional in its approach, the work was innovative in its extensive use of interviews at the very least. Potash is, moreover, one of the professional historians who has had most to say about Perón himself, a figure who undoubtedly stimulated interest in modern Argentina but to a surprising degree has been abandoned to political scientists and other nonhistorians to write about. Neither has the prominence of Perón’s second wife inspired as much work on the situation of Argentine women as might be hoped for, although Evita herself has been studied by the historian Marysa Navarro, not to mention the inevitable journalists and anthropologists.48
Chile and Peru are two more countries that have attracted a large number of United States historians, even if there have been conspicuous fluctuations in level of interest. Scholarship on the modern history of Peru was at a high in the early 1950s, reached a low point over the following decade, and then underwent a remarkable expansion, under the influence undoubtedly of the Peruvian revolution of 1968 and its reformist policies—the abortive model of military reformism. In much the same way, the spectacular rise and fall of Salvador Allende clearly stimulated the study of Chile. Yet both countries have been popular research topics even apart from such transitory phenomena; Chile, after all, was for many years the model of constitutional liberties in Latin America, while in Peru the vestiges of its Incaic and viceregal past gave added interest even to the modern period. At least the attentive readers of our Chileanists cannot have been wholly taken aback by the 1973 debacle. Fredrick B. Pike’s misleadingly titled Chile and the United States,49 published exactly a decade earlier, was less a treatment of international relations than a treatise on Chilean attitudes toward the United States, set in the context of a discussion of internal Chilean history that stressed not the solidity of Chilean democracy but the dangerous failure of Chilean leaders to solve the nation’s social problem. Likewise Frederick M. Nunn’s Chilean Politics, 1920-1931: The Honorable Mission of the Armed Forces,50 published the same year Allende came to power, was, among other things, a useful reminder that the Chilean military had not always been content to accept civilian authority.
The social problem itself, in its rural dimension, received treatment at the hands of Arnold J. Bauer, whose Chilean Rural Society from the Spanish Conquest to 193051 stood out among Latin American rural histories both for the length of its time span, though concentrating on the period since the mid-nineteenth century, and for its systematic attention to the relationships between rural life and national and international currents. Brian Loveman’s Struggle in the Countryside then covered the more conflictive recent years to 1973;52 and labor and politics in urban and mining areas provided most of the subject matter for Paul Drake’s Socialism and Populism in Chile, 1932-1952.53 Chile having been the point of departure for André Gunder Frank’s development of dependency “theory, it is not surprising that foreign involvement in the nation’s key extractive industries has been a topic studied by a number of scholars, including Michael Monteón, the recent author of an orthodox dependentista history of nitrate mining, and Thomas F. O’Brien, whose writings on the same industry are somewhat more nuanced in interpretation.54 For general economic history, we have the contributions of Markos Mamalakis—both The Growth and Structure of the Chilean Economy: From Independence to Allende55 and his volumes of historical statistics.56 Serious political history, apart from that by Drake, the various studies of Nunn concerning the military,57 and a limited number of other examples, has been perhaps surprisingly neglected. Chile, though, is the principal exception in South America to John Johnson’s observation about the neglect of history of ideas. In this field the output has consisted of journal articles and specialized monographs, such as the studies of Allen Woll and Gertrude Yeager on historiographic ideas,58 but the resulting body of writings is substantial.
Historians specializing in Peru have also paid somewhat more than the usual degree of attention to history of ideas, reflecting in considerable part a prevailing interest in the figures of José Carlos Mariátegui and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. To be sure, neither has been studied solely for his ideas, Haya especially having been in addition a political leader and organizer of major importance. A pioneer in Haya’s case was the historically oriented political scientist Harry Kantor, whose The Ideology and Program of the Peruvian Aprista Movement appeared in 1953;59 and the most recent treatment is an article on the spiritual dimensions of Haya’s thought by Fredrick Pike.60 The latter had earlier set out to debunk APRA and Haya de la Torre;61 but as he became increasingly interested in cultural and psychological history, was drawn to take a new and more favorable look at APRA’s founder. The Aprista phenomenon has further received the attention of Peter Klarén, who studied its socioeconomic bases in the north coastal sugar region,62 and it is one of the elements dealt with in the study by Steve Stein that serves as principal Peruvianist entry in the expanding literature by United States historians on Latin American populism.63
The Klarén and Stein volumes both form part of the impressive boom in Peruvian studies over the past two decades, whose center is to be found in Peru itself in such entities as the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, but which has been international in scope and has certainly evoked much willing collaboration in this country. Other examples are Florencia Mallon’s study of highland rural society,64 singled out for notice by Johnson, and the work of Jeffrey Klaiber on popular religion65 which has no precise counterpart in the historical writing on other South American countries. On the other hand, specifically economic history, apart from the Peruvian segment of Laura Randall’s multivolume work,66 has consisted largely of articles and working papers. General political history has not interested many scholars, and the lack of a major work on the modern Peruvian military in the manner of Potash on Argentina or Nunn on Chile is rather conspicuous. The work on Peru is thus uneven in its coverage, despite its relatively large amount, and despite a notable concern with the cultural dimensions of history that may owe something to the circumstance that Peruvianist historians rub shoulders with an unusually large contingent of anthropologists.
Though Venezuela has been undergoing an economic boom during much of the present century, there has at no point been a comparable boom in Venezuelan studies among foreign scholars. The fact that until the 1983 devaluation Venezuela was an expensive country in which to work perhaps discouraged some graduate students from opting for a Venezuelan specialization, and the country’s somewhat unfair image as the home of uncultured nouveaux riches (more recently nouveaux pauvres, but presumably still uncultured) has not helped either. I would even hypothesize that the numerous scholars who are convinced that only revolutionary methods can solve the problems of contemporary Latin America sometimes unconsciously shy away from Venezuela for fear that it will disprove their firmly held beliefs. After all, The Venezuelan Democratic Revolution of the title of Robert J. Alexander’s paean to Rómulo Betancourt67 was not revolutionary even in the Mexican sense, much less the Cuban.
The success of that nonrevolutionary “revolution” is all the more striking when one recalls that before becoming a model democracy, Venezuela had long been a model of military dictatorship. Thus the oldest work on Venezuela listed in the Guide is Gómez, Tyrant of the Andes by Daniel J. Clinton (pseud. Thomas Rourke), an amateur historian’s gory exposé that was nevertheless described as of some fifteen years ago by Germán Carrera Damas as the best thing written up to that date on the most successful of all Venezuelan dictators.68 Nor is it surprising that a major share of the historical literature in English on Venezuela consists of biographies of caudillos and interpretations of caudillismo. There is a second nonprofessional life of Gómez by John Lavin69 and a discussion of Antonio Guzmán Blanco as springboard for a general analysis of caudillismo by the political scientist George Wise,70 both published in the 1950s. The following decade saw the appearance of Robert Gilmore’s Caudillism and Militarism,71 a work difficult to read but, even more than Wise’s, a point of reference in broader discussions of the caudillo phenomenon in Latin America. The last quarter century, however, has seen the sudden emergence of a new class of Venezuelan historical studies, some of them by members of allied social science disciplines, that are concerned with the accomplishments and dynamics of democratic pluralism. Alexander led the way, to be followed by studies of both Acción Democrática and Venezuelan Christian Democracy by other authors,72 the work of Steve Ellner on Acción Democrática, the Communists, and organized labor,73 and Judith Ewell’s unique examination of the extradition of the last dictator, Marcos Pérez Jiménez, which tells us as much about his democratic successors as about him.74 Ewell’s most recent book, a general survey of twentieth-century Venezuela,75 covers the whole process of transition from military caudillismo to democracy, as does the survey text by John Lombardi, whose subtitle nicely sums it all up with its juxtaposition of The Search for Order, The Dream of Progress.76 Like other national histories in the Oxford University Press series, Lombardi’s gives special attention to socioeconomic aspects; but what seems most distinctive about the writings on Venezuela is their predominantly political emphasis, whether dealing with dictators or with democrats. It is no doubt regrettable that Venezuela’s other transition, from peripheral backwater to affluent society, has not inspired an equal body of analysis; still, the oil industry has been studied not just by Lieuwen but more recently by Rabe,77 and the last decade has seen a modest upturn in writings on different aspects of Venezuelan history, not all of which is it possible to discuss. If present trends continue, the coverage should become more balanced as well as more in keeping with the intrinsic importance of Venezuela in Latin America today.
Current trends are less promising with respect to Colombia: of all the major Latin American countries, the one whose history has been most neglected. Colombia ranks third among Latin American nations in number of dissertations presented in economics at North American universities, and Colombian literature specialists are even launching a journal of their own, with some token participation by historians, but our guild has not attributed the same importance to the patria of Santander. We who belong to the select minority of Colombianist historians must take part of the blame for this grievous omission, since in the process of becoming more and more like the object of our study, we have seemingly become infected by the Colombians’ own modesty and understatement as regards the intrinsic importance of their country; we have accordingly held back from promoting our field of specialization as it deserves.78 Surely, though, the explanation goes deeper.
Up to the late 1940s, Colombia, then widely regarded as an exemplary emerging democracy, roughly held its own within what was still a rather scant production of writings on modern South America. The only truly notable contributions were Rippy’s Capitalists and Colombia, already mentioned, and James J. Parsons’s Antioqueño Colonization in Western Colombia,79 the work of a historically minded geographer that became a landmark within the subdiscipline of antioqueñología; but Colombia was not significantly more neglected than other nations. Since 1950, on the other hand, studies of Colombia have not kept pace with expansion of the field, and a probable reason is that in light of first the horrors of the Violencia and then the apparent immobilism (I would emphasize only apparent) of the National Front era, historians quite frankly have not known what to do with recent Colombian history. Though one might have hoped this situation would inspire more people to study the country, with a view to understanding its paradoxes, such has not been the case. It is rumored that John Johnson originally intended to include Colombia in his Political Change in Latin America, but after briefly attempting to fit it into his conceptual scheme, simply threw up his hands in despair.
Among the select few historians who did choose to study Colombia, most emphasized the nineteenth century rather than the twentieth. The most influential single work, particularly among non-Colombianists, has been William P. McGreevey’s Economic History of Colombia,80 which extends to 1930, but is mostly about the previous century. Appearing in 1971 and incorporating techniques of what was then still the “new” economic history, it applied counterfactual-conditional arguments to the discussion of Colombian railroad construction and drew up a cost-benefit analysis of nineteenth-century liberalism. The result was a refreshingly stimulating look at Colombian economic history, marred at times by careless research. Charles Bergquist’s Coffee and Conflict in Colombia, set at the turn of the century, is factually more reliable, although some scholars have differed with its interpretations. It belongs, of course, to the larger school of dependentista studies that Bergquist himself has described as the primary original contribution made by Latin Americanists to the discipline of history,81 and, if all or most examples of the genre were equally well researched and jargon-free, that conclusion might be taken more seriously. In any case, though Coffee and Conflict may overstate the importance of external economic factors, it stands out for its attention to local detail and to the role of sectoral divisions within a single ruling class.
Bergquist’s book should really be of as much interest to non-Colombianists as McGreevey’s, but as yet it does not seem to be. The same can be said of Frank Safford’s The Ideal of the Practical,82 a work as underestimated as the country it treats. From an examination of mostly abortive efforts to promote technical education, Safford provides insights into the constraints imposed on national development by material conditions and social structures with significance for much more than the Colombian case. Then there are two more books on political history that deserve mention: Bichard E. Sharpless’s life of Jorge E. Gaitán83 and Helen Delpar’s Red Against Blue: The Liberal Party in Colombian Politics, 1863-1899.84 One would expect there to be more along these lines, for it is in political development that Colombia has diverged most strikingly from Latin American norms; but there are not. The political scientist Robert Dix (whose discipline has paid more attention to Colombia than historians) suggests that scholars are turned away from Colombian topics by the persistence of traditional institutions and their associated “elites”:85 apparently they find the phenomenon more distasteful than intriguing. If that is the case, Delpar’s able study of the formative stage of the party system must reinforce their reluctance, by showing how solidly rooted party loyalties are. On the other hand, Sharpless’s brief study of Colombia’s premier populist should have served as a reminder that Colombia, too, has a claim to be considered within the burgeoning literature on Latin American populism—a point generally overlooked. Finally, some of the most original work of recent years has been that of Richard Hyland and Catherine LeGrand in the area of land tenure, agricultural credit, and related matters so successfully worked by Bauer in the case of Chile.86 Their efforts have so far resulted in some excellent articles and one published monograph. For the rest, contributions on modern Colombian history, mostly in form of articles, are few in number and, it must be confessed, with honorable exceptions, just a little parochial.
Of the remaining South American countries, Bolivia has received almost as much attention as Colombia and Venezuela, Ecuador virtually none from United States historians, and Paraguay and Uruguay something in between. The most noteworthy thing about the writings on Bolivia is perhaps that so many of them are by a single author, Herbert Klein, including two general histories and myriad articles, the latter predominantly on the twentieth century.87 Bolivia was also chosen by James Wilkie as a South American country in which to apply his method of measuring social and other changes by the examination of government finance,88 although the results seem less satisfactory than for Mexico. The prevailing neglect of Ecuador, on its part, is suggested by the fact that the two principal United States authors on its modern history are both nonhistorians: the Catholic publicist Richard Pattee, whose rather favorable life of Conservative dictator Gabriel García Moreno is nevertheless soundly based,89 and political scientist George I. Blanksten, author of Ecuador: Constitutions and Caudillos.90 First published in 1941 and 1951 respectively, these works have inspired few imitators.
Paraguay has fared better, thanks undoubtedly to the lure of the exotic and the deep impression caused by that romantic holocaust, the War of the Triple Alliance. Pelham H. Box’s The Origins of the Paraguayan War91 still ranks as one of the major works in the field of Latin American international relations. The same epic struggle received balanced treatment in the final portion of John Hoyt Williams’s The Rise and Fall of the Paraguayan Republic, 1800-1870,92 somewhat less balanced treatment from Charles Kolinski;93 but it is the indefatigable Harris G. Warren more than anyone else who has kept even post-López Paraguay from receding into historiographic oblivion.94 His writing tends to be traditional history, well researched and well told; and, in fact, anyone interested in applications of the latest methodological or conceptual breakthroughs need not look first at the literature on modern Paraguay. Neither should such a reader spend much time on Uruguay. Peter Winn, it is true, has taken Uruguay as case study for an examination of Great Britain’s nineteenth-century “informal empire”95 and by so doing has left a mark in the growing dependency literature. The one North American historian most identified with Uruguay as a topic, however, Milton Vanger, is explicit (almost militant) in his rejection of economic or class analysis in favor of an emphasis on partisan political skills as he proceeds with his study of José Batlle y Ordóñez.96 He may well be correct, but he is not yet the creator of his own trend.
Like John Johnson, I must now acknowledge that my survey of historical writings is necessarily incomplete and that my choice of examples has inevitably been personal, even idiosyncratic. I also hope no one will imagine that, just because a topic has not been studied by United States historians, it has not been studied. The writings reviewed here constitute, obviously, only one portion of the historical literature on modern South America. They do, however, constitute a larger part for some countries than others. Thus, in Colombia the reluctance of national historians to tackle recent topics means that historiographical aid from the United States, meager though it has been, looms larger than in countries like Argentina and Peru, whose scholars have paid more attention to the modern period. It is unfortunate that countries relatively neglected by foreign scholars are often those whose own historians have been least inclined to venture beyond the colonial and independence periods.
North American historians have also tended to favor certain thematic specialties over others. The increased production of the last quarter century has been centered, with respect to all but a few countries, on social and economic problems, leaving many perfectly valid political ones still untouched. This trend has coincided with the appearance of a number of works by committed radical or dependentista historians, but the bulk of the published scholarship is conspicuously nonpolemical. And, while a few of the works mentioned could have been labeled as cultural-corporatist in their interpretation of Latin American society, the contribution of that school to the historical literature does not seem in keeping with the amount of discussion it has aroused in recent years.
Looking to the future, it is safe to say that the trends both in methodology and in choice of topical themes that John Johnson sketched for Latin America as a whole—the relentless advance of quantification, the growing attention to women, labor, popular culture—are bound to affect historical writing on all the South American countries sooner or later. Indeed, they are evident in most cases already. As for the choice of countries to write about, one may assume that the dolce vita porteña will continue to guarantee a disproportionate attention to Argentina, but much else will depend on coming headlines, which historians also read. Ecuador, perhaps the most likeable country of all in South America, is today the least studied; but not long ago, El Salvador was equally neglected. No doubt Ecuadorians should count their blessings—and hope for continued neglect.
History of Chile (Chicago, 1893). Only A History of Peru (1892) by Markham has stood the test of time to the extent of being listed in Charles C. Griffin, ed., Latin America; A Guide to the Historical Literature (Austin, 1971), item 1065.
Though the fact should be self-evident, let it also be noted that the definition of “modern South America” used here further excludes the Guianas. The Falklands/Malvinas will, of course, be considered an integral part of Argentina, under temporary foreign occupation.
Cambridge, Mass., 1920.
The Agrarian Indian Communities of Highland Bolivia (New York, 1921); The Land Systems of Mexico (New York, 1923); and Chile: Land and Society (New York, 1936).
Percy A. Martin, “Causes of the Collapse of the Brazilian Empire,” HAHR, 4 (Feb. 1921), 4-48; Osgood Hardy, ‘‘The Itata Incident,” HAHR, 5 (May 1922), 195-226.
Percy A. Martin, The Influence of the United States on the Opening of the Amazon to the World’s Commerce,” HAHR, 1 (May 1918), 146-162.
New York, 1931.
Argentine Meat and the British Market: Chapters in the History of the Argentine Meat Industry (Stanford, 1938).
The Struggle for the Falkland Islands: A Study in Legal and Diplomatic History (New Haven, 1927).
In addition to the article cited in n. 5, above, Loretta Baum, “German Political Designs With Reference to Brazil,” HAHR, 2 (Nov. 1919), 586-610, and William Whatley Pierson, “Alberdi’s Views on the Monroe Doctrine,” HAHR, 3 (Aug. 1920), 362-374.
Stanley J. Stein, The Brazilian Cotton Manufacture: Textile Enterprise in an Underdeveloped Area, 1850-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1957), and Vassouras, a Brazilian Coffee County, 1850-1900 (Cambridge, Mass., 1957); Edwin Lieuwen, Petroleum in Venezuela: A History (Berkeley, 1954).
Thomas E. Skidmore and Peter H. Smith, Modern Latin America (New York, 1984).
Robert N. Burr, By Reason or Force: Chile and the Balancing of Power in South America, 1830-1905 (Berkeley, 1965), and Leslie B. Rout, Jr., Politics of the Chaco Peace Conference: 1935-1939 (Austin, 1970).
Carl Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism: Argentina and Chile, 1890-1914 (Austin, 1970); Karen L. Remmer, Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890-1930 (Lincoln, Neb., 1984).
Here it must be reiterated that “modern South America” means Brazil and the Spanish-speaking republics, 1850s to the present. Works by nonhistorians have been counted if they seem predominantly historical in focus, and by non-United States citizens, if more or less permanently based in the United States. Books dealing with two countries have been counted as a half-point for each; but if they deal to a significant degree with more than two, they have been excluded from consideration. I recognize that no two scholars would be likely to apply the stated criteria in exactly the same way. The actual figures arrived at are: Brazil, 29-1/2; Argentina, 25-1/2; Chile, 18-1/2; Peru, 11-1/2; Venezuela, 8; Colombia, 5; Bolivia, 4; Paraguay, 3; Uruguay, 2; Ecuador, 1.
In this case the count is: Argentina, 13; Brazil, 9; Peru, 5-1/2; Colombia, Paraguay, and Venezuela, 3 each; Chile, 2-1/2; Uruguay, 2; Ecuador, 1; Bolivia, o.
Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (New York, 1971).
Robert Conrad, The Destruction of Brazilian Slavery, 1850-1888 (Berkeley, 1972); Robert Brent Toplin, The Abolition of Slavery in Brazil (New York, 1972).
Dom Pedro the Magnanimous, Second Emperor of Brazil (Chapel Hill, 1937).
June Edith Hahner, Civilian-Military Relations in Brazil, 1889-1898 (Columbia, S.C., 1969), and “The Brazilian Armed Forces and the Overthrow of the Monarchy: Another Perspective,” The Americas, 26 (Oct. 1969), 171-182.
Peter L. Eisenberg, The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco: Modernization without Change, 1840-1910 (Berkeley, 1974).
Thomas H. Holloway, Immigrants on the Land: Coffee and Society in São Paulo, 1886-1934 (Chapel Hill, 1980).
Robert M. Levine, Pernambuco in the Brazilian Federation, 1889-1937 (Stanford, 1978); Joseph Love, São Paulo in the Brazilian Federation, 1889-1937 (Stanford, 1980); John D. Wirth, Minas Gerais in the Brazilian Federation, 1889-1937 (Stanford, 1977).
Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964: An Experiment in Democracy (New York, 1967).
Richard Graham, Britain and the Onset of Modernization in Brazil, 1850-1914 (Cambridge, 1968); E. Bradford Burns, The Unwritten Alliance: Rio-Branco and Brazilian-American Relations (New York, 1966); Stanley E. Hilton, Brazil and the Great Powers, 1930-1939: The Politics of Trade Rivalry (Austin, 1975), and Hitler’s Secret War in South America, 1939-1945: German Military Espionage and Allied Counterespionage in Brazil (Baton Rouge, 1981); Frank D. McCann, Jr., The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945 (Princeton, 1973).
June E. Hahner, “Feminism, Women’s Rights, and the Suffrage Movement in Brazil,” Latin American Research Review, 15:1 (1980), 65-111.
Billy Janes Chandler, The Bandit King: Lampião of Brazil (College Station, Texas, 1978); Ralph Della Cava, Miracle at Joãseiro (New York, 1970).
The Argentine Republic (New York, 1945). Discussion of the origins of the work is based on personal communication with the author, of about the time of publication.
Arthur P. Whitaker, The United States and Argentina (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), Argentine Upheaval: Perón’s Fall and the New Regime (New York, 1956), and Argentina (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1964); Thomas F. McGann, Argentina, the United States, and the Inter-American System, 1880-1914 (Cambridge, Mass., 1957) and Argentina: The Divided Land (Princeton, 1966).
George Reid Andrews, The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900 (Madison, 1980).
Mark D. Szuchman, Mobility and Integration in Urban Argentina: Córdoba in the Liberal Era (Austin, 1980); Samuel L. Baily, Marriage Patterns and Immigrant Assimilation in Buenos Aires, 1882-1923,” HAHR, 60 (Feb. 1980), 32-48.
Ronald C. Newton, German Buenos Aires, 1900-1933: Social Change and Cultural Crisis (Austin, 1977).
James R. Scobie, Buenos Aires: Plaza to Suburb, 1870-1910 (New York, 1974); Richard Morse, From Community to Metropolis: A Biography of São Paulo, Brazil (Gainesville, 1958).
Argentina: A City and a Nation, 2d ed. (New York, 1971), p. 256.
Donna J. Guy, Argentine Sugar Politics: Tucumán and the Generation of Eighty (Tempe, Ariz., 1980).
Carlos F. Díaz Alejandro, Essays on the Economic History of the Argentine Republic (New Haven, 1970); Laura Regina Rosenbaum Randall, An Economic History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1978).
Politics and Beef in Argentina: Patterns of Conflict and Change (New York, 1969).
Coffee and Conflict in Colombia, 1886-1910 (Durham, 1978).
Argentina and the Failure of Democracy: Conflict Among Political Elites, 1904-1955 (Madison, 1974).
David Rock, Politics in Argentina, 1890-1930: The Rise and Fall of Radicalism (Cambridge, 1975); Richard J. Walter, Student Politics in Argentina: The Reform and its Effects, 1918-1964 (New York, 1968) and The Socialist Party of Argentina: 1890-1930 (Austin, 1977).
Samuel L. Baily, Labor, Nationalism, and Politics in Argentina (New Brunswick, 1967); Hobart A. Spalding, Jr., comp., La clase trabajadora argentina (documentos para su historia, 1890/1912) (Buenos Aires, 1970), with excellent and lengthy introduction by compiler.
The Army and Politics in Argentina. Vol. 1: 1928-1945: Yrigoyen to Perón (Stanford, 1969); Vol. 2: 1945-1962, Perón to Frondizi (Stanford, 1980).
Jacques Barzun, “Scholarship Versus Culture,” The Atlantic (Nov. 1984), 102.
Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro, Eva Perón (New York, 1980), and by Navarro alone various articles, including “Evita and the Crisis of 17 October 1945: A Case Study of Peronist and Anti-Peronist Mythology,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 12 (May 1980), 127-138.
Chile and the United States, 1880-1962: The Emergence of Chile’s Social Crisis and the Challenge to United States Diplomacy (Notre Dame, 1963).
Brian Loveman, Struggle in the Countryside: Politics and Rural Labor in Chile, 1919-1973 (Bloomington, 1976).
Michael Monteón, Chile in the Nitrate Era: The Evolution of Economic Dependence, 1880-1930 (Madison, 1982); Thomas F. O’Brien, The Nitrate Industry and Chile’s Crucial Transition, 1870-1891 (New York, 1982).
New Haven, 1976.
Historical Statistics of Chile. Vol. 1: National Accounts; Vol. 2: Demography and Labor Force; Vol. 3: Forestry and Related Activities; Vol. 4: Money, Prices, and Credit Services (Westport, Conn., 1978-83.)
See also, especially, The Military in Chilean History: Essays on Civil-Military Relations, 1810-1973 (Albuquerque, 1976).
Allen Woll, A Functional Past: The Uses of History in Nineteenth-Century Chile (Baton Rouge, 1982); Gertrude Matyoka Yeager, Barros Arana’s Historia jeneral de Chile: Politics, History, and National Identity (Fort Worth, 1981). Both authors have contributed several articles on related themes.
“Visions of Rebirth: The Spiritualist Facet of Peru’s Haya de la Torre,” HAHR, 63 (Aug. 1983), 479-516.
The Old and the New APRA in Peru: Myth and Reality,” Inter-American Economic Affairs, 18 (Autumn 1964), 3-45.
Modernization, Dislocation, and Aprismo: Origins of the Peruvian Aprista Party, 1870-1932 (Austin, 1973).
Populism in Peru: The Emergence of the Masses and the Politics of Social Control (Madison, 1980).
Florencia E. Mallon, The Defense of Community in Peru’s Central Highland: Peasant Struggle and Capitalist Transition, 1860-1940 (Princeton, 1983).
Religion and Revolution in Peru, 1824-1876 (Notre Dame, 1977).
Laura Regina Rosenbaum Randall, A Comparative Economic History of Latin America: 1500-1914, 4 vols. (Ann Arbor, 1977). Vol. 4 corresponds to Peru.
The Venezuelan Democratic Revolution: A Profile of the Regime of Rómulo Betancourt (New Brunswick, 1964).
New York, 1936. The evaluation by Carrera Damas was in a personal conversation, ca. August 1970.
John Lavin, A Halo for Gómez (New York, 1954).
George S. Wise, Caudillo: A Portrait of Antonio Guzmán Blanco (New York, 1951).
Robert L. Gilmore, Caudillism and Militarism in Venezuela, 1810-1910 (Athens, Ohio, 1964).
John D. Martz, Acción Democrática; Evolution of a Modern Political Party in Venezuela (Princeton, 1966); Donald L. Herman, Christian Democracy in Venezuela (Chapel Hill, 1980).
Steve Ellner, Los partidos políticos y su disputa por el control del movimiento sindical en Venezuela, 1936-1948 (Caracas, 1980).
Judith Ewell, The Indictment of a Dictator: The Extradition and Trial of Marcos Pérez Jiménez (College Station, Tex., 1981).
Venezuela: A Century of Change (Stanford, 1984).
Venezuela: The Search for Order, The Dream of Progress (New York, 1982).
Stephen C. Rabe, The Road to OPEC: United States Relations with Venezuela, 1919-1976 (Austin, 1982).
As Fernando Cepeda Ulloa has observed, a special virtue of contemporary Colombian political thought (but he could have said the same about the entire society) is “la ausencia de pretensión. Quiero decir la inexistencia de cualquier deseo por erigirse en modelo o paradigma para otros” (“Pensamiento político colombiano contemporáneo,” mimeo paper presented to Congreso Sobre el Pensamiento Político Latinoamericano, Caracas, 26 de junio al 2 de julio 1983, p. 6). The reference to economics dissertations is derived from LASA Forum, 15 (Fall 1984), 14.
William Paul McGreevey, An Economic History of Colombia, 1845-1930 (Cambridge, 1971).
“Latin America: A Dissenting View of Latin American History in World Perspective, in George G. Iggers and Harold T. Parker, eds., International Handbook of Historical Studies: Contemporary Research and Theory (Westport, Conn., 1979), pp. 371-386.
The Ideal of the Practical: Colombia’s Struggle to Form a Technical Elite (Austin, 1976).
Richard E. Sharpless, Gaitan of Colombia: A Political Biography (Pittsburgh, 1978).
University, Ala., 1981.
Review of Harvey F. Kline, Colombia: Portrait of Unity and Diversity, HAHR, 64 (Feb. 1984), 191-192.
Richard P. Hyland, “A Fragile Prosperity: Credit and Agrarian Structure in the Cauca Valley, Colombia, 1851-87,” HAHR, 62 (Aug. 1982), 369-406, and El crédito y la economía, 1851-1880, vol. 4 of Sociedad y economía en el Valle del Cauca (Cali, 1983); Catherine LeGrand, “Labor Acquisition and Social Conflict on the Colombian Frontier, 1850-1936,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 16 (May 1984), 27-49, and “Colombian Transformations: Peasants and Wage-Labourers in the Santa Marta Banana Zone,” The Journal of Peasant Studies (London), 11 (July 1984), 178-200.
Herbert S. Klein, Parties and Political Change in Bolivia, 1880-1952 (Cambridge, 1969), and Bolivia, the Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society (New York, 1982). An early and typical Klein article—there are too many to cite them all—is “David Toro and the Establishment of‘Military Socialism’ in Bolivia,” HAHR, 45 (Feb. 1965), 25-52.
James W. Wilkie, The Bolivian Revolution and U. S. Aid Since 1952: Financial Background and Context of Political Decisions (Los Angeles, 1969).
Richard Pattee, Gabriel García Moreno y el Ecuador de su tiempo (Quito, 1941).
Charles J. Kolinski, Independence or Death: The Story of the Paraguayan War (Gainesville, 1965).
Harris Gaylord Warren and Katherine F. Warren, Paraguay and the Triple Alliance: The Postwar Decade, 1869-1878 (Austin, 1978); and, by Harris G. Warren alone, articles again too numerous to cite them all; e.g., “The Paraguayan Revolution of 1904,” The Americas, 36 (Jan. 1980), 365-384.
Peter Winn, El imperio informal británico en el Uruguay en el siglo xix (Montevideo, 1975), and more briefly, “British Informal Empire in Uruguay in the Nineteenth Century,” Past and Present, 73 (Nov. 1976), 100-126.
Milton I. Vanger, José Batlle y Ordóñez of Uruguay: The Creator of His Times, 1902-1907 (Cambridge, Mass., 1963) and The Model Country: José Batlle y Ordóñez of Uruguay, 1907-1915 (Hanover, N.H., 1980).