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Week 7: Imperial Cultures

This seminar addresses the theme of 'imperial culture' with reference to a distinctive case: the United States, a polity which has often asserted an anti-imperial (sometimes post-colonial) identity. In this session, we will begin by exploring the peculiarities of an imperial power that has frequently disavowed its status as an empire, examining how scholars have variously facilitated and challenged this exceptionalist identity construction. We will then turn to a specific experience of US imperialism-- in interwar Haiti-- to examine in closer detail the variety of ways in which empire is invariably entangled with culture.

Core reading

Mary A. Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), Concentrate on Part I, pp. 1-181. Link.

Amy Kaplan, 'Left Alone with America: The Absence of Empire in the Study of American Culture', in Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease (eds), Cultures of United States Imperialism (Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 3-21.

Amy Kaplan, 'Violent Belongings and the Question of Empire Today,' Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, Oct. 17, 2003, American Quarterly 56.1 (2004), pp. 1-18. Link.

Further reading

Dirks, Nicholas B. (ed.), Colonialism and Culture (University of Michigan Press, 1992).

Kaplan, Amy, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Harvard University Press, 2002).

McCoy, Alfred W., and Francisco A. Scarano, Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009).

McPherson, Alan, The Invaded: How Latin Americans and Their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism (Vintage Books, 1994).

Stoler, Ann Laura (ed.), Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History (Duke University Press, 2006).