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Society for History Education

Latin American History in the United States: From Gentlemen Scholars to Academic
Author(s): Marshall C. Eakin
Source: The History Teacher, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Aug., 1998), pp. 539-561
Published by: Society for History Education
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Latin American History in the United States:
From Gentlemen Scholars to Academic Specialists

Marshall C. Eakin
Vanderbilt University

OVER THE PAST THIRTY YEARS the field of Latin American

history has flourished, developing into a clearly defined specialty in
history departments across the United States. The Conference on Latin
American History, the most prominent professional organization of his-
torians of Latin America in the United States, now has a membership
approaching one thousand, and in recent years more than fifty universi-
ties have produced a combined total of fifty to sixty Ph.D.s in Latin
American history each year.' Undergraduate courses in Latin American
history are regularly taught at hundreds of institutions across the country,
and graduate courses at dozens of universities.
The emergence of Latin American history as an established part of the
undergraduate curriculum, and as a thriving specialty within the histori-
cal profession, has taken place rapidly and dramatically since the 1960s.
The field, however, has a long history of its own dating back to the mid-
nineteenth century. This essay traces the history of Latin American
history in the United States.2 I have divided this historiographical survey
into six parts: 1) the beginnings of the field in the works of gentlemen
scholars in the nineteenth century; 2) the professionalization of the field
from the 1880s to the Second World War; 3) the fundamental role of
Herbert Eugene Bolton during these years; 4) the pre-boom generation of
The History Teacher Volume 31 Number 4 August 1998 O Marshall C. Eakin

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540 Marshall C. Eakin

the 1940s and 1950

and, finally, 6) the

The Beginni

Until the emergence

century, men of inde
ars," produced the fi
Service in the Unite
Irving (1783-1859) t
immensely popular
Christopher Columbu
of the nineteenth c
Conquest of Mexico,
Although Irving and
Columbus and Cortes,
tion" against the "bar
imbued with a stron
Keen has pointed o
romantic past, but ba
In the second half of
and Prescott gave
scholars who had t
embarking on succe
81) and his discipl
figures in the emer
Native American s
Mesoamerican socie
the highly comple
barbaric and "low" on the ladder of human social evolution.6 Charles F.
Lummis (1859-1928), a popular writer, helped make Bandelier's work
and views more widely know through his book, The Spanish Pioneers
(1893), which went through seven editions by 1917.
Perhaps the most important historian of the era was Hubert Howe
Bancroft (1832-1918) who used his fortune to accumulate a vast library
and archive on the western United States and Mexico. (His collection
became the basis of the Latin American library at the University of
California, Berkeley which bears his name.) Using teams of research
assistants to copy and purchase documents, Bancroft's "factory system"
churned out the monumental History of the Pacific States between 1874
and 1890. (The first six volumes cover the "native races," the next three,
Central America, and the last six, Mexico.)7

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Latin American History in the United States 541


By the 1880s, especially under the influence of German universities

and scholars, the historical profession in the United States had begun to
emerge. One important sign of this professionalization was the founding
of the American Historical Association in 1884. The first academic
historians in the United States to write about Latin America were Bernard
Moses (1846-1930) and Edward Gaylord Bourne (1860-1908). Accord-
ing to Benjamin Keen, Moses was "the first professor of Latin American
history in the United States and the first to write monographs of the
modem type on colonial Latin America."8 Trained in Germany, Moses
produced a series of books from the 1890s through the 1920s while on the
faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.9 Bourne, who taught at
Yale University, published the influential Spain in America (1904).o0
Both Moses' and Bourne's works were shaped by the Social Darwinism
and colonialism of the era. Building on the works of Prescott and Bancroft,
they viewed Catholicism and racial mixture as key reasons for Latin
America's backwardness. Like their nineteenth-century predecessors,
they generally viewed Spain's colonial enterprise as beneficial for Latin
America bringing civilization to the New World." The parallels between
United States colonial expansion after 1898 and the Spanish imperial
experience were everpresent in their writings, and both took a direct
interest in the Philippines.12
Bourne and many others were revisionists who consciously sought to
reject or move away from the nineteenth-century emphasis on the so-
called "Black Legend," i.e., that the Spanish had systematically annihi-
lated native populations through a cruel and ferocious conquest in the
sixteenth century.13 One of the most influential of these works was The
Encomienda in New Spain by Lesley Byrd Simpson, a scholar at Berke-
ley.'4 As Benjamin Keen has astutely pointed out, Simpson and other
revisionists adopted "a relativism that shunned moral judgments (though
not consistently), a pragmatic, 'hard-boiled' approach that viewed colo-
nial conquest and exploitation as unfortunate, but inevitable, facts of life,
and a tendency to assess Spanish colonial policy from the standpoint of
Spanish rather than Indian interests," as well as the lack of an anthropo-
logical perspective."' The revisicnist approach continued well into the
Along with studies of the colonial period, diplomatic and political
history dominated the field well into the 1940s. The emergence of the
United States as a world power, especially in the Caribbean basin after
1898, paralleled and intertwined with the professionalization of Latin
American history.16 William Spence Robertson (one of the founders of

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542 Marshall C. Eakin

the Hispanic Ameri

Whitaker were pion
Latin American rela
diplomatic history
tive that stressed t
the region as a lead
A sign of the growi
of the Hispanic Am
Charles E. Chapma
Berkeley, and Will
conceived of the id
while at a confere
assistance from col
next two years, the
cial problems forc
1926.) Early circula
By the mid-1920s
luncheon and sessio
Association, calling
In 1928, they creat
organization formall
can Historical Asso
Latin-American His
Robertson were ke
colleagues.19 Also d
plines, with the ass
the Handbook of La
one of the central b
The professionaliza
gence of dynamic a
tion within the his
on to spread the tea
the country. Two fig
H. Haring (1885-1
began teaching La
student. His early
and turned to Latin
in America is a cla
concentrating on po
Haring taught at
remained active in
professional was He

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Latin American History in the United States 543

Herbert Eugene Bolton

No other figure looms as large in the field of Latin A

Herbert Eugene Bolton (1870-1953). Like many of
historians of Latin America, Bolton did not do his gr
American history. Trained at the University of
1899) he went to the University of Texas in 1901 t
European history. Almost immediately, he was draw
Spanish colonization of Texas through his interest in
missionaries. In 1902 he made his first venture into the archives of
Mexico, the first of many trips, eventually leading to the publication of
the Guide to Materials for the History of the United States in the Princi-
pal Archives of Mexico (1913).22
These early years in Texas guided Bolton firmly in the direction of the
history of the "borderlands," those areas of the United States-princi-
pally the southwestern and southeastern states-once part of the Spanish
empire in North America. Bolton's career, and the many students h
trained, straddled two once distinct fields, the history of the United States
and the history of Latin America. Bolton's history is that of the archiva
historian, closely tied to documents and their explication. First and
foremost, it is narrative history in the heroic and romantic nineteenth-
century tradition, the tale of explorers, missionaries, and conquistadors
with little direct interest in Native American cultures. Bolton was a
hispanophile in the tradition of Prescott and Bancroft.23
After moving to Stanford University in 1909 and then Berkeley in
1911, Bolton embarked upon a prolific career producing many books and
students. (He also became the director of the Bancroft Library at Berke-
ley.) Between 1914 and 1944 he directed 106 doctoral dissertations
including some of the major figures in the field from the 1920s well into
the last years of this century (Charles E. Chapman, Herbert I. Priestley,
Charles W. Hackett, J. Fred Rippy, John Lloyd Mecham, John Tate
Lanning, Irving A. Leonard, Woodrow Borah, and William J. Griffith, to
name a few).24 In the 1950s, after his death, all three Latin American
historians at Berkeley were his former students-James F. King, Engel
Sluiter, and Woodrow Borah. The golden age of the "Boltonians," how-
ever, was the 1920s to the 1960s, as Bolton's students spread out across
the United States creating programs in borderlands history (usually with
an emphasis on the United States) and in Latin American history.
Bolton's most famous-and controversial--contribution to the field
)vas put forth in his presidential address to the American Historical
Association in Toronto in 1932. Bolton argued for an end to the separa-
tion of United States and Latin American (and Canadian) history into

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544 Marshall C. Eakin

separate and self-co

"history of the Am
exploitation, wars f
his ideas into pract
History of the Amer
single course and p
archives, and his st
butions to the deve
training of several
individual in this c
history in the Unit
his call to study the
then their student
United States histor

The Pre-Boom Generation

Between the 1940s and the early 1960s the field continued to gro
slowly and the number of academically-trained historians of Latin Ameri
expanded. Although Bolton and his students trained ever larger num
of historians as specialists in Latin American history, some of the m
figures of this generation were trained more broadly in the histor
Western Civilization. They approached Latin America as a part of t
process of the expansion of European civilization. The great figures
this generation, in time, became the senior scholars who witnessed
boom in Latin American history after 1959. Born around the time of
First World War or shortly thereafter, this generation did their gra
work in the late forties and early fifties. They were generally in their l
thirties or early forties when the boom began.
Alexander Marchant and Richard Morse are prime examples of so
of the last historians of Latin America trained not as specialists, b
generalists.28 Marchant (1912-1980), born in Rio de Janeiro to child
of Confederate expatriates, did his doctoral work at Johns Hopkins in
1930s under the guidance of Frederic Chapin Lane, an eminent histo
of European expansion. Marchant's chose as his dissertation topic
Portuguese settlement of Brazil because it was a poorly studied part o
process of the "expansion overseas of the peoples of Europe in
sixteenth century."29 When his dissertation appeared as a book in 194
was only the second academic monograph on Brazilian history publis
in the United States, a sure sign of how historical studies on Brazil la
far behind work on Spanish America.30
Richard Morse (b. 1922), another Brazilianist, was also trained broa

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Latin American History in the United States 545

in the history of the West, especially intellectual hist

so than any other figure in the field, has carried the ban
intellectual history. Although it has a long and vene
intellectual history of Latin America in the United St
at the forefront of the discipline. The works of John
Enlightenment in Latin America and Lewis Hanke on
Casas are examples of the kind of traditional intellec
from the 1940s to the 1950s.32 Morse, something
gadfly, wrote prolifically in an essayist style on the inte
Latin America. He emphasized the patrimonial, Thomi
region contrasting it with the individualistic Protestan
One of the clearest shifts in the field after 1940 w
interest in the national period and national studies. Th
of academic historians were overwhelming interested
concentrating on the era of the conquest (roughly 14
the decades before and after independence. Most of
national period in the first few decades of the twent
decidedly diplomatic and political approach. As late a
Martin of Stanford University flatly stated that "the
republics have no history worthy of the name," and t finished when he has adequately invest
period and the wars of independence."34
Understandably, Mexico led the way in studies of th
in particular, United States scholars had a keen inter
Revolution. Frank Tannenbaum, a sociologist at Co
Howard Cline, Stanley Ross and Charles Cumberland
tant works on the Revolution and United States-Mexican relations.35 In
the decades since, scholarship on Mexican history has been far and away
the most developed of all the Latin American nations. (Studies of the
Mexican Revolution alone dwarf the literature produced on countries
such as Uruguay, Paraguay or Costa Rica.)36
Other notable shifts in the 1940s and 1950s were the move toward
more social and economic history and the influence of other disciplines
on the field. Perhaps the most influential approach was loosely known as
the "Berkeley School" with its emphasis on demographic history.
Woodrow Borah (a Bolton Ph.D., 1940), Lesley Byrd Simpson, and
Sherburne F. Cook, an environmental physiologist, teamed up to produce
a series of important studies on the indigenous populations of central
Mexico in the sixteenth century.37 Borah's and Cook's meticulous archi-
val research documented a demographic catastrophe in central Mexico in
the aftermath of the conquest, with indigenous populations declining by

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546 Marshall C. Eakin

as much as eighty t
years have general
The "Berkeley Sc
demography, anth
(1920-85), who did
pushed the field
The Aztecs Under
in history and ant
work of the Berk
colonialists from
discovery of the
still relied on Span
This generation also moved economic history increasingly to the
forefront of the field. Perhaps the most influential figure in this area was
Stanley Stein (b. 1920), a Harvard Ph.D. (1951) who worked with Clarence
Haring. In 1957 Stein published two fundamental books on Brazilian
economic history (both rural and urban), The Brazilian Cotton Manufac-
ture and Vassouras: A Brazilian Coffee County, 1850-1900.39 The latter,
in particular, exerted enormous influence on scholars of slavery. Much
like Gibson's Mexico, Stein's Brazil took shape out of the notarial
archives of municipalities, bringing to light in greater detail than ever
before the lives of not only the elites, but also the lower classes.
In many ways the most influential scholar of this generation was
Howard F. Cline (1915-71), another Harvard Ph.D. (1947). Cline was
perhaps the prime organizer and promoter of the field in the United States
in the 1950s and 1960s. As director of the Hispanic Foundation at the
Library of Congress he spearheaded some of the most important projects
in the field, including the first National Directory of Latin Americanists
and the two-volume compilation, Latin American History: Essays on Its
Study and Teaching, 1898-1965.40 Cline was also a key figure in mobiliz-
ing government and foundation funds to support Latin American studies
in the United States
By 1960 Latin American history in the United States had clearly
emerged as a small, but vibrant, field with a number of excellent scholars
producing important works. Since 1955 the Conference on Latin Ameri-
can history had awarded the Herbert Eugene Bolton Prize each year to the
best book published in the field, and graduate programs were in place at
major United States universities including Berkeley, Stanford, Texas,
Duke, Harvard, and Yale. The early sixties, however, would witness a
"boom" in Latin American history (and Latin American studies) funda-
mentally transforming the profession.

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Latin American History in the United States 547

The Boom of the Sixties

A number of factors converged to produce the boom in Latin Ameri-

can studies after 1960. Area studies programs in general began to take off
in the 1950s as a direct consequence of the Cold War. Both the United
States government and private foundations provided growing funding to
train specialists in area studies in an era of United States globalism. The
National Defense Education Act (1958) provided funding to create a pool
of experts in all areas of the globe. The Ford Foundation, to take one
example, doled out more than $270 million to thirty-four universities
between 1953 and 1966 in its International Training and Research
Program.41 Another vital factor was the rapid growth of the number of
students entering universities in the 1960s, the postwar "baby boomers"
reaching college age. (University enrollment reached an all-time high in
1970.) Established universities rapidly added to their faculties, new
universities came into existence, and both broadened their history depart-
ments beyond the traditional "core" fields of United States and European
history. The demand for trained specialists increased and the number of
graduate students entering Latin American history programs escalated.
Finally, one cannot overlook the impact of Fidel Castro and the Cuban
Revolution. Castro clearly captured the attention of the United States
government and public and helped spur the demand for Latin American
specialists, including historians. The revolutionary upheavals across Latin
America in the 1960s further spurred many a student to choose Latin
America as his/her field of study. In the 1960s a significant number of
entering graduate students had experience in Latin America through the
Peace Corps or volunteer work. Probably more so than in most fields,
historians of Latin America often were drawn to the field by direct
experience in the region or a strong concern for issues of social justice
and equity.
Expansion, diversification and specialization characterize the field
after 1960. The enormous and rapid growth of historians of Latin America
in United States universities fundamentally transformed the profession,
especially after the graduate students of the sixties became the professors
of the seventies. The number of dissertations, for example, on Latin
American history grew from about a dozen in 1960 to four times that by
1980.42 An expanding United States economy and growing numbers of
foundations and agencies (Ford, Rockefeller, Doherty, Tinker, United
States Department of Education, the Social Science Research Council,
for example) quickly opened up travel and archival research in Latin
America for United States graduate students and professors on an unprec-
edented scale. By the early 1970s scholars were working on all types of

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548 Marshall C. Eakin

topics-political, e
although the domi
history. In particula
American turned i
peasants, slaves-wr
cal science, econom
Although much o
emphasis on politic
clearly in the direc
history. The shift
John Womack' s Z
his Harvard dissert
book in Latin Am
scholars of other r
especially the rol
peasant rebellions
Probably no other b
many readers.
Although scholars
after 1970 historian
masses-peasants, s
race relations alrea
Frank Tannenbau
(1946).45 Unlike Ta
and harshness of s
United States, prod
Black Nor White:
States (1971), winn
the Caribbean and
workers also began
the 1980s that bot
deserve. Much of t
influence was in w
rise of dependency
ence of Marxist th
1970s (although nev
The most influent
States was Stanley
America (1970).49
though to a much s
few practitioners.50

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Latin American History in the United States 549

The history of the colonial period in many ways a

(especially for the study of Spanish America) by the
probed into notarial records in localities across the re
colonial Mexico, in particular, reached a level of soph
unmatched for any other region or period. Two m
bracket this period of immense growth and sophisticatio
The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (1964) and James Loc
After the Conquest (1992).51 Beginning with his 1950
had moved the study of the conquest and colonial per
Spaniards to place the indigenous peoples at the cente
monumental Aztecs Under Spanish Rule marked the
decades of studies that would dig deeper into local a
reconstruct the lives of Indian peoples.
Perhaps more than anyone else in the field, James Lock
the study of colonial Spanish America. Trained in com
an undergraduate, Lockhart began by studying the conqu
up writing about the conquered. Lockhart made two fund
tions that helped shift the nature of the field-he activel
notarial records produced by the Spanish, and eventua
local sources in Nahuatl of the Indians of central Mex
ish Peru (1968) used the notarial records to reconstruct "
1972 he published The Men of Cajamarca, a collective
conquerors of Peru.52 Thereafter, his attention turned to
He taught himself Nahuatl, trained several generations
Nahuatl sources, and produced a detailed, empirical sty
inspired by Lockhart's identification of social types. In m
of Lockhart and his students bridges the old and the new
biographical, empiricist traditions of earlier generations,
are rarely interested in Spanish elites, institutions, or th
Their approach is localized, fragmented, and often se
The national period also experienced a florescence finally coming into
its own as the number of scholars working on post-independence history
finally surpassed the colonialists. The interest in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, and especially in the post-1930 era, no doubt, was
partly driven by the desire of many to understand the upheavals of the
1960s. Much like the history of the period since independence, the
historiography since the sixties has become increasingly specialized by
country and period. Unlike the colonial period, with its focus on the core
regions of Mexico and Peru (and, to a lesser extent, Northeastern and
Southeastern Brazil), the archives and sources for these studies are more
numerous and more dispersed.

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550 Marshall C. Eakin

An important sig
proliferation of co
In addition to the
Review and the A
interdisciplinary j
and the Journal of
formation of Latin
States, the other i
disciplinary journ
American History
subspecialities form
example, Brazilian
the Conference on
Latin America: A G
graphical and histo


Since the seventie

field of specializat
been marked by th
and the national p
Historians of Latin
historical approac
ecological. The cr
does the influence
and, to a lesser ext
World. Although th
seemingly limitles
turned into a nigh
enrollments began
with newly-minte
more than a 1,000
jobs advertised. Th
general, trained m
in other profession
tion became the fi
By the mid-eight
and the job marke
boom years of the
Latin American hi
ings.57 Furthermo

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Latin American History in the United States 551

changing times in academia as the numbers of women

school in history and receiving their Ph.D.s rose stead
age of women faculty and women in positions of
Conference on Latin American history also rose s
1980s and 1990s. (Three of the last four presidents o
The size, diversity, and fragmentation of the field
to generalize as readily as for earlier decades. Some cl
out, however. The eighties were the decade of social
nineties appear be the decade of the new cultural hist
toward the study of non-elite groups such as slaves,
workers, and peasants has continued. The influence o
the so-called "linguistic turn," and post-colonial studi
cutting edge approaches. Studies of slavery and r
perhaps the longest tradition within the field dat
Tannenbaum's Slave and Citizen (1947). Coverage of
ever, has been very uneven. While scholars have stea
literature on the Caribbean (Spanish, French, English
Brazilian slavery appear to have peaked and then tap
1970s. Despite a series of impressive studies by Stuart
past thirty years, increasingly larger numbers of Br
United States have turned their attention to impe
republican Brazil.59
Scholars of Mesoamerica and the Andes have pro
nuanced literature on Indians, and some of the finest
cated books in the past two decades have dissected Sp
tions in the aftermath of the Conquest. In the 1980s man
focused on resistance and accommodation and soug
stories of "peoples without history," and restore "age
had often been neglected of portrayed as passive obj
historiography.60 Influenced by literary analysis, pos
structuralism, and post-colonialism, more recent wo
have sought to shed new light on old sources. Scholars
moved away from more traditional empirical a
"deconstruct" texts, offering new readings, multiple
meanings.61 As in the larger historical profession, t
found questions about the very nature of historical
The rising influence of cultural history has been accompanied by a
decline in quantitative and economic history, and more generally the
literature on development so characteristic of the sixties and seventies.
Although dependency theory never exercised the influence in the United

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552 Marshall C. Eakin

States academic co
historians in the s
monographs analy
Studies of "mode
theme and promin
United States influ
intellectual curren
less influential in
struggled to salvag
Some of the mos
studies of family,
pean history, fam
ties.65 In the eigh
ested in gender a
subfields within th
much of this work
by scholars in ant
studies.66 Through
tions of the social
range views of hist
An important sign
tion of textbooks,
now support a var
American history,
period,70 the ninete
Griffin's Latin Am
badly in need of a
Latin America in the American Historical Association's Guide to His-
torical Literature (1995), and the massive Cambridge History of Latin
America (1984- ) are sure signs of a field that has achieved maturity.73


The field of Latin American history in the United States has come a
very long way since the days of Washington Irving and William Hickling
Prescott. The small club of nineteenth-century gentlemen scholars have
been replaced at the end of the twentieth century by hundreds of profes-
sional historians trained and working primarily in universities. The Ph.D.
dissertation and the highly specialized academic monograph have be-
come the primary means of entry and success in the field since the 1960s.
While some scholars continue to produce wide-ranging, synthetic or
interpretive works, the principal trend in the profession is toward increas-

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Latin American History in the United States 553

ing specialization and fragmentation. Although Lat

has become an established field in nearly all large s
many smaller schools, the great boom of the sixtie
repeated, and increases in the number of positions ac
be small and gradual. A handful of schools have dom
tion of doctorates since the 1950s (Berkeley, UCLA,
Florida). Despite the growth of new programs in th
large state universities and a few private schoo
Stanford) will, no doubt, continue to produce most o
of Latin America.74
Although the field has come of age by the 1990s, historians of Latin
America in the United States continue to be heavily influenced by trends
in European and United States history, and the flow of influence rarely
moves in the opposite direction. Lamentably, as Eric Van Young pointed
out more than a decade ago, the literature on Latin America written in the
United States is not as good as that produced on the United States and
Europe.75 Too often the "cutting edge" works in Latin American history
have been the result of applying approaches developed earlier in other
historical fields. Latin Americanists too often have followed new trends
rather than creating them, postmodemism and postcolonial studies being
the latest examples.76 In all fairness, this is due, to some extent, to the
relatively recent development of the field in the United States. Neverthe-
less, as the profession enters the twentieth-first century with hundreds of
practitioners, this will soon cease to be a valid explanation or apology.
This is not to say that the field has not produced important, creative, and
pathbreaking work. Historians of the colonial period, and, more pre-
cisely, of sixteenth-century Spanish America, have created a provocative
and creative literature in recent years that is often the envy of historians
of the national period.77 If any subfield of Latin American history attracts
increasing attention from outsiders in the coming years, it will most
likely be studies of colonial encounters among Spaniards and Indians
(and, to a lesser extent, Africans and Iberians).
The maturation of the field has also raised serious questions about its
very definition. The traditional, political view that Latin America con-
sisted of twenty republics that gained their independence from Spain,
Portugal, and France in the nineteenth century quite clearly no longer
remains viable. Several decades of work on the rich cultural and ethnic
mixture that arose out of the clash of Europeans, Native Americans, and
Africans have not only demonstrated the inadequacy of the term "Latin"
America, but also have made delimiting it more problematic. The work of
historians of the Caribbean (English, French, Dutch, and Spanish) have
shown the problems of defining where Latin America ends and begins-

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554 Marshall C. Eakin

temporally, spatial
from the Caribbea
States has also giv
States.79 Finally, t
derlands has also h
United States and Latin America more fluid.80
Another important factor in the development of the field in the United
States has been the development of graduate degree programs in Latin
American universities and an ever growing flow of scholars across the
region, Latin Americans coming to the United States to study or teach,
and United States historians teaching and doing research in Latin America.
The rapidly growing number of academic historians (especially in large
countries like Brazil and Mexico) has significantly increased the amount
of research being published, and the difficulties of those wishing to keep
up with developments outside their own narrow regional and thematic
focus. These trends, especially the growth of graduate programs in Latin
America, will hasten the trend toward specialization and fragmentation.
The primary benefit of rising numbers of academically-trained histori-
ans across the Americas and greater interaction with United States histo-
rians is increasing cross-fertilization. The old stereotype of two tradi-
tions-the archivally-bound, empiricist United States historian and the
theory-loving, interpretive Latin American historian-is less true now
that it ever was. Latin Americans have become much more empiricist and
United States historians of Latin American less so through a process of
cross-fertilization over the past three decades. In the era of e-mail and the
fax machine this process will surely continue, if not accelerate. The end
result, one hopes, will be a growing community of historians throughout
the hemisphere who are more cosmopolitan and less parochial than their
predecessors, and who will write better history.


1. These figures have been calculated using Dissertation Abstracts for 1990-95.
The number of Ph.D. programs in history in the United States in 1993 was 124. Paul
Conkin, "Bleak Outlook for Academic History Jobs," AHA Perspectives (April 1993), 10.
2. To trace the development of the field in Latin American and European nations
is an enormous task that is beyond the scope of this essay. For a stimulating essay on the
field since 1960, see Thomas E. Skidmore, "United States Scholarly Writing on Latin
American History, 1960-1995," paper presented at the San Marino Conference on United

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Latin American History in the United States 555

States History Writing, June 1995. A masterful survey of the l

Argentine historian is Tulio Halperin Donghi, "The State of Lati
Christopher Mitchell, ed., Changing Perspectives in Latin Am
CA: Stanford University Press, 1989), 13-62. See, also, Jack R
Dictionary of Latin American Historians and Historiography
wood, 1984).
3. It should be noted that the citations in this essay aim to
work (primarily books) in the field, and I do not pretend to
4. William H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, with a Preliminary
View of the Ancient Mexican Civilization, and the Life of the Conqueror, Hernando
Cortes, 3 vols. (New York, 1843). Prescott also wrote a history of the conquest of the
Incas and a biography of Fernando and Isabel.
5. Benjamin Keen, "Main Currents in United States Writings on Colonial Spanish
America, 1884-1984," Hispanic American Historical Review, 65:4 (November 1985),
6. Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society (New York, 1877); Adolph Bandelier,
On the Social Organization and Mode of Government of the Ancient Mexicans, Reports of
the Peabody Museum, 12:577-699 (1879).
7. Bancroft eventually produced 39 volumes.
8. Keen, "Main Currents in United States Writings on Colonial Spanish America,"
9. The Railway Revolution in Mexico (1895); The Establishment of Spanish Rule
in America (1898); The Spanish Dependencies in South America (1914); and, Spain's
Declining Power in South America, 1730-1806) (1919).
10. Spain in America, 1450-1580 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1904).
11. "As the child physically and mentally passes rapidly through the earlier stages
of the development of the race, so the natives of New Spain in a generation and a half were
lifted through whole stages of human evolution. If these gifts came through war and
conquest, so Roman culture came to Gaul and Britain." Bourne, Spain in America, 201.
12. Edward G. Bourne, Discovery, Conquest, and Early History of the Philippine
Islands (Cleveland, OH: A. H. Clark, 1907). Bourne also edited or translated several
volumes of travel narratives. Moses visited the Philippines in 1903 and then served three
years on the Philippine Commission. James E. Watson, "Bernard Moses: Pioneer in Latin
American Scholarship," Hispanic American Historical Review, 42:2 (May 1962), 216.
13. See, for example, Charles Gibson, ed., The Black Legend: Anti-Spanish Atti-
tudes in the Old World and the New (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971).
14. Lesley Byrd Simpson, The Encomienda in New Spain: Forced Native Labor in
the Spanish Colonies, 1492-1550 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1929).
15. Keen, "Main Currents in United States Writings on Colonial Spanish America,"
16. For an analysis of the relationship between Latin American studies (especially
Latin American history) and United States power in the hemisphere, see Mark T. Berger,
Under Northern Eyes: Latin American Studies and United States Hegemony in the
Americas, 1898-1990 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1995).
17. William Spence Robertson, Hispanic-American Relations with the United States
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1923); Dexter Perkins, The Monroe Doctrine,
1823-1826 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1927); and, Arthur P. Whitaker,
The United States and the Independence of Latin America, 1800-1830 (Baltimore, MD:
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1941).

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556 Marshall C. Eakin

18. When Chapman su

creating the journal se
specialists in the Unit
Founding of the Review
19. Hispanic Americ
1929), 241-42; and 19
20. Charmion Shelby
Years," Revista Interam
21. Clarence H. Hari
University Press, 1947
22. Herbert Eugene B
in the Principal Archiv
ton, 1913).
23. See, for example, Fray Juan Crespi, Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast,
1769-1774 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1927); Rim of Christendom: A Biogra-
phy of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer (New York: Macmillan, 1936);
Coronado, Knight of the Pueblos and Plains (New York: Whittlesey House, 1949).
24. Borah has continued to publish into the 1990s.
25. The address was published as "The Epic of Greater America," American
Historical Review, 38:2 (April 1933), 448-74. For responses to the so-called Bolton
Thesis, see Lewis Hanke, ed., Do the Americas Have a Common History? (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1964).
26. He also published a guide to teaching the course, History of the Americas: A
Syllabus with Maps (Boston: Ginn, 1928).
27. The best biography of Bolton is John Francis Bannon, Herbert Eugene Bolton:
The Historian and the Man, 1870-1953 (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1978).
Bannon was a Bolton student (Ph.D., 1939) and a major figure in Borderlands history into
the 1970s.
28. Another prominent member of this generation is Benjamin Keen (b. 1913), a
Yale Ph.D. (1941) who was a pioneer in colonial Spanish American history and Aztec
civilization. See his monumental The Aztec Image in Western Thought (New Brunswick,
NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1971). Keen also wrote one of the most widely used
textbook of the past twenty-five years, A History of Latin America, 2 v., 5th ed. (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1996).
29. Marchant's dissertation was published in 1942 as From Barter to Slavery: The
Economic Relations of Portuguese and Indians in the Settlement of Brazil, 1500-1580
(Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1966). Quote is from page 7.
30. The first monograph was Alan K. Manchester, British Preeminence in Brazil:
Its Rise and Decline (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1933),
was also essentially a study of European influence in Brazil. Manchester was a student of
J. Fred Rippy at Duke University in the late 1920s.
31. Morse did his Ph.D. at Columbia University (1952). He taught at Columbia
(1949-58), Yale (1962-78), and Stanford (1978-84).
32. See, for example, John Tate Lanning, Academic Culture in the Spanish Colo-
nies (London:, 1940), The University in the Kingdom of Guatemala (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1955); Lewis Hanke, The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest
of America (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949).
33. For a sampling of his work, see Richard M. Morse, New World Soundings:
Culture and Ideology in the Americas (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press,

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Latin American History in the United States 557

34. Quoted in Charles Gibson and Benjamin Keen, "Tre

Studies in Latin American History," American Historical Revi
35. Frank Tannenbaum, Mexico: The Struggle for Peace
Alfred A. Knopf, 1950); Howard Cline, The United States and
Harvard University Press, 1953); Charles Curtis Cumberland, M
esis Under Madero (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press,
Francisco I. Madero: Apostle of Mexican Democracy (New Yor
Press, 1955).
36. The distribution of scholars and their regional interests
on Latin American provide a fair indication of the dominance o
mately 800 scholars in the CLAH Directory for 1996, nearly 3
Studies Committee. By comparison, the Andean Studies C
members and Brazilian Studies about 125.
37. Sherburne F. Cook and Lesley Byrd Simpson, The Population of Central
Mexico in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948).
Borah and Cook's most important work in this period is The Aboriginal Population of
Central Mexico on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest (Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1963).
38. Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the
Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964). Gibson's
work had begun when a graduate student at Yale. His dissertation was published as
Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale Historical Publications, Miscel-
lany, LVI, 1952).
39. Stanley J. Stein, The Brazilian Cotton Manufacture: Textile Enterprise in an
Underdeveloped Area, 1850-1950 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957),
and, Vassouras: A Brazilian Coffee County, 1850-1900 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Uni-
versity Press, 1957).
40. Howard F. Cline, comp. and ed., Latin American History: Essays on Its Study
and Teaching, 1898-1965, 2 v. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1967), and
National Directory of Latin Americanists: Bibliographies of 1,844 Specialists in the
Social Sciences and Humanities (Washington, DC: Hispanic Foundation Bibliographical
Series No. 10, Government Printing Office, 1966). The former is still an invaluable
overview of the development of the state of the field up to the 1960s.
41. Richard D. Lambert, ed., Beyond Growth: The Next Stage in Language and
Area Studies (Washington, DC: Association of American Universities, 1984), p. 9.
42. Precise figures on the total number of doctorates in Latin American history are
always imprecise. These figures come from an analysis of the data base Dissertation
Abstracts. I have included dissertations that authors described as "History, Latin America"
for their primary field, and I also included other dissertations labelled "History, Modern"
that were clearly Latin American in their content.
43. John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1969).
44. See, for example, Susan Ramfrez, Provincial Patriarchs: Land Tenure and the
Economics of Power in Colonial Peru (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico
Press, 1986); Linda Lewin, Politics and Parentela in Paraiba: A Case Study of Family-
Based Oligarchy in Brazil (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988). A consider-
able number of historians have written about royal officials. Two prominent examples are
Mark A. Burkholder and D.S. Chandler, From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish
Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687-1808 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri
Press, 1977) and Stuart B. Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The

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558 Marshall C. Eakin

High Court of Bahia an

Press, 1973).
45. Frank Tannenbaum
Alfred A. Knopf, 1946
46. Carl N. Degler, Ne
and the United States
47. See, for example
Nineteenth Century (M
Toplin, The Abolition of
The Destruction of Braz
Press, 1972).
48. The two fundame
Faletto, Dependencia y
Andre Gunder Frank,
Studies of Chile and Br
49. Stanley J. and Bar
Essays on Economic De
50. See, for example, Peter H. Smith, Politics and Beef in Argentina: Patterns of
Conflict and Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969) and Argentina and the
Failure of Democracy: Conflict Among Political Elites, 1904-1955 (Madison, WI: Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Press, 1974); James W. Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal
Expenditure and Social Change Since 1910 (Berkeley, CA: University of California
Press, 1967), and James W. Wilkie, ed., Statistical Abstract of Latin America (Los
Angeles, CA: University of California Press) published regularly since the 1960s.
51. Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the
r'alley of Mexico, 1519-1810 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964) and James
Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of
Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford, CA: Stanford Uni-
versity Press, 1992).
52. James Lockhart, Spanish Peru, 1532-1560 (Madison, WI: University of Wis-
consin Press, 1968) and The Men of Cajamarca: A Social and Biographical Study of the
First Conquerors of Peru (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1972).
53. For Lockhart's view see his classic essays, "The Social History of Colonial
Latin America: Evolution and Potential," Latin American Research Review, 7:1 (Spring
1972), 6-45; and, "Social Organization and Social Change in Colonial Spanish America,"
Cambridge History of Latin America. v. II. Colonial Latin America, Leslie Bethell, ed.
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 265-319.
54. The Americas was created by the Academy of American Franciscan History in
1944. The Journal of Inter-American and World Affairs, another early publication was
begun in 1959.
55. Charles C. Griffin, ed., Latin America: A Guide to the Historical Literature
(Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1971). The volume had more than three dozen
contributors. Another major reference work to appear was Roberto Cort6s Conde and
Stanley J. Stein, eds., Latin America: A Guide to Economic History (Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press, 1977).
56. "The Job Crisis of the 1970s," AHA Perspectives (April 1997), 9-13; and,
Robert B. Townshend, "AHA Surveys Indicate Bleak Outlook in History Job Market," in
the same issue, 7-11.
57. In the early 1990s, for example, the average number of Latin American history

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Latin American History in the United States 559

positions advertised in the AHA Perspectives was 34 with more

each position. According to Dissertation Abstracts the average nu
the early nineties was around 50 per year. Robert B. Townshend,
News for History Job Seekers," AHA Perspectives (March 1997)
58. In 1992, "American universities produced 725 new hist
34.2 percent were women." In 1991, just under 19 percent "of all
1956-91) with academic employment" were women. "Report on th
Women and Minority Historians in Academia," AHA Perspectiv
59. See, for example, Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantation
Brazilian Society, 1550-1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Peasants, and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery (Urbana,
nois Press, 1992; Mary C. Karasch, Slave Life in Rio de Janeiro
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Roderick J. Barman, "Braz
North America: The Last Forty Years," the Americas, 46:3 (Jan
60. See, for example, Steve J. Stem, Peru's Indian Peoples
the Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison, WI: Univers
1993); Nancy M. Farriss, Maya Society Under Colonial Rule: Th
of Survival (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984);
Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899 (P
University Press, 1985); Warren Dean, Rio Claro: A Brazilian Pl
1920 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1976).
61. See, for example, Florencia E. Mallon, "The Promise an
tern Studies: Perspectives from Latin American History," Ame
99:5 (1994), 1491-1515; and, Patricia Seed, "Colonial and Postcolo
American Research Review, 26:3 (1991), 181-200. For comment
her response to the comments, see Latin American Research Revi
62. See, for example, John E. Toews, "Intellectual History
Turn: The Autonomy of Meaning and the Irreducibility of Exp
torical Review, 92:4 (October 1987), 879-907; and Mallon, Ibid.
63. Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopme
Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (New York: Monthly Revi
J. and Barbara H. Stein, The Colonial Heritage of Latin Ameri
Dependence in Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press,
and Ronald H. Chilcote, eds., Latin America: The Struggle with
(Cambridge, MA: Seckenham, 1974); E. Bradford Burns, The Pov
America in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, CA: University of
64. See, for example, Florencia E. Mallon, "The Promise an
tern Studies: Perspectives from Latin American History," Ame
99:5 (1994), 1491-1515. Two of the most important vehicles for M
North American Congress on Latin America, Report on the A
1967, and Latin American Perspectives (founded in 1974).
65. See, for example, Elizabeth Anne Kuznesof, Household
Development: Sdo Paulo, 1765-1836 (Boulder, CO: Westview
Balmori, Stuart F. Voss, and Miles Wortman, Notable Family Net
(Chicago: University of Chicago, 1984); and Mark D. Szuchm
Community in Buenos Aires, 1810-1860 (Stanford, CA: Stanford
66. See, for example, Asunci6n Lavrin, ed., Latin Americ
Perspectives (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978) and Sex
Colonial Latin America (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebrask
Seed, To Love, Honor and Obey in Colonial Mexico: Conflicts O

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560 Marshall C. Eakin

1574-1821 (Stanford, C
Women of Mexico City
Ram6n A. Gutidrrez,
Sexuality, and Power i
Press, 1991). See, also,
ed., Latin America and
CT: Greenwood Press,
67. An excellent exam
ers and Chile's Road to
68. Some of the journa
Mexicanos (1985), Cuba
can Review (1992), and
69. The most promine
5th ed., 2 v. (Boston: Ho
History of Latin Amer
Edwin Williamson, The
70. James Lockhart a
Colonial Spanish Amer
Mark A. Burkholder and
Oxford University Pres
71. David Bushnell an
Nineteenth Century (Ne
72. Thomas E. Skidmo
York: Oxford Universit
73. Mark A. Burkhold
America Since 1800," in
Guide to Historical Lite
1198 and 1199-1238; Les
(Cambridge: Cambridg
Covington, ed., Latin A
(Westport, CT: Greenwo
74. According to Dissertation Abstracts, the major producers of doctorates in Latin
American history have been Berkeley, UCLA, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Yale,
Stanford, and Chicago.
75. Eric Van Young, "Recent Anglophone Scholarship on Mexico and Central
America in the Age of Revolution (1750-1850)," Hispanic American Historical Review,
65:4 (November 1985), 725.
76. In fact, the trend that had the most influence on others in the 1970s and 1980s-
dependency theory-originated in Latin America, and had much less resonance among
United States historians.
77. Nancy M. Farriss, Maya Society Under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enter-
prise of Survival (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984); Inga Clendinnen,
Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570 (Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1987); James Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social
and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth
Centuries (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992).
78. In Keen's and Williamson's texts include the twenty traditional nations, i.e.,
Brazil, Haiti, and eighteen countries that gained their independence from Spain in the
nineteenth century. Skidmore and Smith include the English-speaking Caribbean. Al-

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Latin American History in the United States 561

though Burns' text focuses on the traditional nations, his stati

covers the "nations of Latin America and the Caribbean," includin
island nations, Guyana, Surinam.
79. See, for example, Alejandro Portes and Robert L. Bach, L
and Mexican Immigrants in the United States (Berkeley, CA: U
Press, 1985). Despite the natural connections, programs in Chi
American studies have developed largely independently of each
fertilization than one might hope to see. One prizewinning boo
boundaries is Ram6n.A. Guti6rrez, When Jesus Came, the Corn
Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846 (S
University Press, 1991).
80. David Weber, "The Idea of the Spanish Borderlands," in T
lands in Pan-American Perspective, David Hurst Thomas,
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 3-20. In the past year, a g
created a Borderlands Studies Committee within the Conference on Latin American
history to provide a forum for the growing number of historians in this subfield.

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