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Southern Exposure: Latin Americans View The United States, 1783-1900


This dissertation examines the writings of Latin Americans who traveled to the United States between 1783 and 1900 and wrote about their experiences. It aims to provide an intellectual and cultural history of Latin America, as seen through the lens of elite Latin Americans' perceptions of the emerging United States. The seventy-six travelers whose eighty-nine texts I examine comprise slightly more than half of the total number of such travelers identified. Employing text-analysis software, I have mined their published writings to compile data that specify the travelers' substantive interests in and observations concerning the United States. Such interests are expressed as nouns.

The 18,943 nouns used in the texts are presented so that we learn not only which were employed by individual authors, but also which were used by how many of the other writers comprising the sample. We can now specify what substantive matters (persons, places, things, ideas) caught the travelers' interest or were on their minds, how often they mentioned each of these words in their texts, how many of their fellow travelers used the same words, and in what percentage of the total texts those same words appeared. Thus, we can know as never before what Latin Americans were actually thinking about the United States during the era addressed - from the dawn of the First Republic to its emergence as hemispheric hegemon and global empire. These findings provide quantitative data to support (or refute) the sort of qualitative judgments that have heretofore lacked measurable certainty.

I also place the travelers in the context of their time and place, with chapters addressing the validity of travelers as historical sources, the highly influential social and intellectual status of many of the travelers, late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Latin American intellectual history, and the originally complementary yet soon antagonistic philosophical perspectives held in Latin and Anglo-America towards the end of the nineteenth century. In an appendix, I provide biographies of each of the travelers whose works are addressed. Another appendix lists travelers whose works are not examined here, many of whom merit at least equal scholarly attention.

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