When Gilbert Joseph was in the pro­cess of or­ga­niz­ing the “Rethinking the
Postcolonial Encounter” conference, which would later become the edited vol-
ume Close Encounters of Empire, he asked me to contribute some ideas about
the current status and possible direction in the study of U.S.–­Latin American
relations after the cultural-­linguistic turn. The paper I presented at the conference
(titled “The Enterprise of Knowledge”), hosted by Yale in 1995, launched me
on a long journey into examining the formation of U.S. hegemony as a ques-
tion of repre­ s en­ta­tion and power rooted in a quest for knowledge. Initially,
my primary object of curiosity was how the nature and purpose of the U.S.
empire in Latin America was represented and encoded into written texts. For
a while, the U.S. informal empire and its “repre­sen­ t t ional machines” stood at
the center of my intellectual preoccupations. Yet with time my focus shifted
toward the role of disciplinary knowledge in the making of U.S. hegemony over
Latin America. Somewhat in between that conference and drafting this book,
I discovered that “Pan-­ A mericanism” in its various renditions was a force that
tended to color much of the discussion about U.S.–­ L atin American relations
since 1910, continuing to exert significant influence during the 1930s and 1940s.
My first thanks go to Gil for guiding me into this line of research, which has
turned out to be so interesting and rewarding. And to Cathy LeGrand, who
started the ­ w hole conversation about the communicative and discursive nature
of imperial engagements and about the importance of culture in mediating the
memory of past U.S. economic, military, and po­ li ti­ c al interventions in Latin
America. Since 1998, the year in which Close Encounters of Empire was pub-
lished, my opportunities to discuss the American empire, its repre­sen­ t t ions,
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