Tag Archives: Spring 2016 Colloquium

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:

Colloquium Series Part 2: Joshua Simon

On Monday, February 22nd at 6:00pm in the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, CLACS will welcome Columbia University’s Joshua Simon, who will present the second lecture of the Spring 2016 Colloquium SeriesPolitical Imaginaries across Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Simon’s talk, entitled “The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and the Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought,” will explore the similarities that existed among Creole revolutionaries during the independence movements that swept the American continent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Monday’s lecture is based on Simon’s work for an upcoming book, The Ideology of Creole Revolution: American Political Thought in Comparative Perspective (Columbia University Press).

Professor Simon explains the themes of his lecture and book:
headshotresize“This book manuscript proposes a new, unified interpretation of the leading ideas of the independence movements of the United States and Latin America. It takes as its point of departure the fact that all of the American independence movements were led by Creoles, the American-born descendants of European settlers. Creoles occupied a distinctive position within the social structure of the empires, simultaneously dominating fellow Americans of indigenous and African descent and dominated by fellow Europeans from the metropoles. I argue that this shared social position imposed common dilemmas on the independence movements’ political theorists, explaining key ideological similarities in their defenses of revolution, constitutional designs, and ideas about inter-American relations.  I illustrate my claims in three carefully chosen case studies of important Creole revolutionaries: Alexander Hamilton of the United States, Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, and Lucas Alamán of Mexico.”

Joshua Simon (Ph.D., Yale) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, specializing in political theory. He has held positions at King’s College London and the New School for Social Research. His research focuses on American and Latin American political thought, especially the ideas underlying the Americas’ revolutions, constitutions, and approaches to foreign policy. He has also studied American and Latin American adaptations of European traditions of political thought, including republicanism, liberalism, positivism, and Marxism. His work draws on the theories and methods of comparative political science and historical institutionalism, offering systematic accounts of the co-evolution of political ideologies and political institutions with both explanatory and critical intents.

After the lecture, Professor Simon will be joined by CLACS Faculty Fellow Edgardo Pérez Morales for a discussion and Q&A with the audience. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, click here to see the event page and RSVP here.

Colloquium Series Presentation: Irene Silverblatt

By Michael Cary, CLACS MA Student

On Monday, February 1st, CLACS inaugurated the Spring 2016 Colloquium Series with a presentation by Irene Silverblatt. The theme for this semester’s colloquium series is “Political Imaginaries Across Latin America and the Caribbean” and Silverblatt, a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University, spoke on race thinking and Spanish colonial Peru.

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Announcing the Spring 2016 Colloquium

By Brendan Fields, CLACS MA Student

Beginning on February 1st at 6pm, CLACS will be hosting its research Spring colloquium series where top scholars will present current research in the field of Latin American Studies. The theme of the colloquium is “Political Imaginaries Across Latin America and The Caribbean.” “We chose this theme because it should allow us to think about processes and dynamics of power, ethnicity and state formation. Citizenship, race or gender are ways of thinking and forms of interdependence unfolding within power relations, not essences or monoliths,” says CLACS Professor Edgardo Pérez Morales who is one of our faculty members organizing the series. “That’s what we aim to grasp in this colloquium.”

To help attendees grasp the complexities involved in understanding these imaginaries, CLACS has invited a diverse group of scholars to present their work from disciplines ranging from anthropology to political science to religion. With such a collection of renowned scholars present, attendees will surely gain a lot from the talks. “If you attend the whole series, I think you can begin to really see the state of Latin American and Caribbean studies and what the new frontiers are,” says CLACS Professor Katherine Smith. “Plus, there’s always a reception, which is often when the best conversations and insights happen!” The opportunity to share time and conversations is invaluable as a way for individual students to participate in a community of knowledge. “Focusing on our political imagination is something worth considering. Coming to these talks can help take this normally individual endeavor and make it a bit more collective,” says CLACS Professor Pamela Calla.

To kick off the series on February 1st Irene Silverblatt, of Duke University, will give a talk entitled Stained Blood in the Old World and the New: New Christians and the Racial Categories of the Colonial-Modern World.

Professor Silverblatt will explore the racializing of human beings and its repercussions for colonial categories of rule and the cultural ordering of the modern world. The lecture and following discussion, moderated by CLACS faculty member  and Associate Professor of History at NYU Sinclair Thomson, is framed on the following abstract by the presenter:

Hannah Arendt, among others, understood 19th century European colonialism – a form of governance which, like twentieth century fascism, supported the world-wide dominance of a master race – as key to understanding the brutal, submerged underside of modern, Western experience. However, it was 16th century Europe’s first wave of colonial expansion, spearheaded by Spain, that provides a more elaborate picture. The first wave was forged during the turbulence of modern state-making when many (but not all) officials of Church and Crown believed the Iberian Peninsula’s “New Christians” (or conversos of Jewish and Moorish descent) could not be loyal subjects because they were cursed by the “stained blood” of their ancestors. Transported to the Americas, the New Christian syndrome, with its obsession with blood purity and its political language of stains, fertilized the racial bent of modern, colonial geopolitics. The point of entry into this discussion will be the meanings of “New Christian” in the New World.

Irene Silverblatt is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology, History, and Women’s Studies at Duke University. She researches the cultural dimensions of power; specifically, state-building and colonization in Latin America and the politics of memory in central Europe. Her published works include Harvest of Blossoms: Poetry of a Life Cut Short (Collected Poetry of Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger) (edited and with an introduction by Irene Silverblatt and Helene Silverblatt 2008); Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World (2004); Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (1987) as well as articles on related themes. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University), and the Social Science Research Council, among others. Professor Silverblatt has also served as President of the American Society for Ethnohistory.

For more information about the event and to RSVP, click here.