Quintero Toro, Camilo. Birds of Empire, Birds of Nation: A history of Science, Economy, and Conservation in United States- Colombia Relations. Bogota: Universidad de los Andes, 2012.
This book seeks to answer these and other questions by focusing on the study in perception of Colombian birds from the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, as a pretext to analyze social, scientific and environmental relations between the United States and Colombia.
Understanding how ornithologists and collectors formed bird collections reveal s a rich story of international scientific relations and power structure throughout the 19th and 20th century.
Reconstructing ...view middle of the document...
The place of nature and science in making new connections between imperialism and nationalism in history is considered to be the main contribution of this book. Scholars of US scientific imperialism have convincingly made the argument that science and medicine were important allies in US expansion in the 20th century.
It is not my intention to argue that North America and global expansion in the 20th century has similar characteristics to formal European imperialism between the 16th and 19th centuries (although we should not forget that Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines became formal North American colonies during this same period). It is, however, useful to think of the United States as an informal empire, especially when analyzing scientific and environmental relations.
The idea of looking at the United States as an empire is certainly not new in academia. Between the 1960s in the 80s several scholars, including the Wisconsin school headed by William Appleman Williams, as well as the so-called dependency theorists in Latin America, constantly explain the relationship between the United States and Latin America as Imperial. The studies argued that since the Latin American region has a strong economic dependence on the United States, North America had an enormous power to control the political and social course of the region. After all, during the first half of the 20th century, North America became Latin America's main economic partner, buying raw materials from its southern neighbors; selling them North America manufactured products, and loaning them money creating an ever-increasing foreign debts.
Although the perspective of these scholars is very helpful in counterbalancing the modernization theories of the 1950s, it was focused on the economic aspect, leaving aside other historical variable such as culture and society. Furthermore, the scholars analyze the history of North American international relations from a dichotomous perspective. They understood the relations between the United States and the world as a relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed without taking into account other levels of complexity that could not be clearly placed on one side or the other.
The idea of North American imperialism has been recently analyze under new perspectives influenced by cultural history. We now see the encounter between the United States and the world as more than a history of a relation between conquerors and subordinates or exporters and victims. Recent work has begun to look at any the many levels that characterized these encounters and the active role in different sectors of society play in them. In the Latin American case, North American's imperialism could also be labeled as “imperialism by invitation” because many Latin Americans welcomed the United States growing presence in the region in the 20th century. To be sure, the relationship between North America and Latin America were unbalanced and North Americans often...