As Social Text published its first essays on Latin America, the Americas were living the disastrous consequences of a hemispheric cold war in the forms of dictatorships, military rule, and brutal state violence; confronting popular and institutionalized revolutions; and suffering U.S. interventions in open or secret civil wars that would kill millions and devastate civil society through the end of the century.
The engagements of the essays in Social Text's first hundred issues offer an instructive map of engagements with Latin America and a history of critical movements in the U.S. academic Left across the last thirty years.
Social Text's attention to the long cold wars in the Americas shifted in the late eighties as writers traced new ideological positions and discourses, struggling over the meaning of the Americas amid the culture wars of the Reagan-Bush years, engaging the politics of multiculturalism, border studies, and Latino cultures in the United States. Contributors read the queer voices and homophobic paranoia of patriotic discourse—founding new disciplines that deconstructed the gendered authority of the state and established a new archive of queer poetics across the Americas. Across the nineties and into the new century, writers turned to the new subjects of globalization, questioning the logic and markets of development, and the new discourses of neoliberalism in the hemisphere. In more recent years, contributors explored the cultural archives of diaspora, the local lifeworld and geopolitical consequences of slum cities and unplanned urbanization, and the contentious afterlives of the foundational ideas of Latin American modernity.