his book aims to illuminate comparatively the cultural dimen-
of American colonialism in Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
One of its larger arguments, however, is that the task demands a
careful reconsideration of what we mean by culture in the first place.
This work can therefore be seen as bridging cultural sociology and
comparative history. It is a work of comparative-historical sociology
that pays close attention to power and meaning making. Fittingly,
the origins of the book lie in the halls of the sociology department at
the University of Chicago, where I was able to develop my interest
in comparative-historical and cultural analysis under the guidance
of George Steinmetz, Andrew Abbott, John Comaroff, and Martin
Riesebrodt. I am grateful to them not only for nurturing my study
of historical processes and culture, but also for encouraging me to
pursue my interest in U.S. colonialism and empire when the study
of such matters had been traditionally marginalized in sociology.
Others at Chicago who provided indispensable support, by serving
as either model thinkers, friendly critics, or attentive friends, in-
clude Kate Bjork, Neil Brenner, Robin Derby, Andreas Glaeser,
and Moishe Postone. Marshall Sahlins, simply through his lectures
at Chicago, taught me to think hard about culture and structure.
Dipesh Chakrabarty taught me to think even harder about colonial-
ism and how one might think about it in the first place.
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