The idea for this book grew out of a series of discussions among the edi-
tors in the spring of I994. Catherine LeGrand and Ricardo Salvatore were
Postdoctoral Fellows in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale Univer-
sity, where Gil Joseph directed the Council on Latin American Studies.
Each of us had done extensive historical research on problems of Latin
American political economy and on the United States' formidable pres-
ence in the region. Each of us had also been influenced by the recent
cultural and linguistic "turn" in the human sciences. In the wake of the
avalanche of cultural history and criticism generated by the five-hundredth
anniversary of the so-called Columbian encounter, we found it surpris-
ing that little scholarship of a similar nature existed for Latin America's
postcolonial (or neocolonial) encounter with the United States during the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To be sure, exciting work was under
way across several fields and disciplines, but the cultural history of U.S.-
Latin American relations remained to be written almost in its entirety. As
we speculated on why the field's development had been stunted, we came
to appreciate the almost total lack of communication that existed between
Latin Americanists and historians of U.S. foreign relations who worked
on inter-American affairs: rarely did members of the two groups of schol-
ars attend the same professional meetings, let alone collaborate on joint
As our discussions came to include a broader range of Latin American-
ists (from north and south of the Rio Grande) and U.S. foreign relations
historians, the three of us began to plan a research conference that would
unite scholars working on the cultural history of inter-American relations
across fields, disciplines, and regions. We hoped to take stock of the more
innovative work being done and, hopefully, to set a future agenda for
research. Following a year-and-a-half planning process, an international
conference, "Rethinking the Postcolonial Encounter: Transnational Per-
spectives on the Foreign Presence in Latin America," was held at Yale
in October I995, sponsored by the University's Council on Latin Ameri-
can Studies. The event brought together fifty-two established and younger
scholars of hemispheric relations: historians, anthropologists, sociolo-
gists, political scientists, and cultural and literary scholars; a cast that
included North Americans, Latin Americans, Europeans, and one Aus-
tralian. Four days of intense discussion and debate among this diverse,
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