Anti-Imperial Imperialism as a Revolutionary Model?

Written by CLACS MA student Michael Cary.

Last Monday marked the second installment of the Spring 2016 Colloquium Series. CLACS was happy to receive Joshua Simon of Columbia University, who gave us a preview of his upcoming book. In a lecture titled “The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought,” Simon presented a unified interpretation of independence movements in the Americas.

Breaking with the models expounded by what he calls the “Age of Revolutions” and “Incipient Nationalism” theses, Simon instead posits that we should consider the commonalities among the American independence movements themselves. He makes his case by analyzing the specific role played by Creoles, and their position within colonial empires. Essentially, Simon links the Creole revolutions by showing how various revolutionary leaders reacted the inherent contradictions caused by revolution in the context of the Creole classes positioning between the European colonizer and the American colonized. For the Creole class, the dilemma was: “How to end European rule of the Americas without undermining Creole rule in the Americas?”

Drawing on the revolutionary figures Alexander Hamilton, Simón Bolívar and Lucas Alamán, Simon characterizes American and Latin American independence movements as both “anti-imperial and imperial at the same time.” He then points out how shared political thought manifested itself in the justification of independence, the constitutions of these nascent governments, and their early foreign policy positions.

You can watch the full video of the event below:

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