Crystal Eastman, "New Analytical Tools:
Raising Questions about Old Ideas"


assumes the U.S. to be the disseminator of all things developmental; imperialist theories presume that the U.S. "center" imposes on the Latin American "periphery" its "distinct" political, military, and economic institutions; and dependency and world-systems theories assume that the structure of the U.S. center keeps the periphery dependent on it, thereby inhibiting it from ever becoming fully developed.1 In short, all the theories maintain the concept of a one-sided U.S. penetration of Latin America.

While not abandoning these political-economic models,2 Joseph suggests scrutinizing the cultures of the foreign-local contact zones for better insight into the distribution of power. "Popular and elite (or local and foreign) cultures are produced in relation to each other through a dialectic of engagement that takes place in contexts of unequal power and entails reciprocal borrowings, expropriations, and transformations," Joseph explains.3 In other words, power may be in the eye of the culture. The new theoretical paradigm looks at the dynamic interaction and intersection of culture and power. When historicizing this theory, it becomes clear that the previous theories that usually dichotomize relations into exploiters and victims or dominators and resisters begin to break down.

Several of the articles in the book speak directly to this analytical paradigm, but I will discuss "Love in the Tropics: Marriage, Divorce, and the Construction of Benevolent Colonialism in Puerto Rico, 1898-1910" by Eileen Findlay. When the U.S. got involved with Puerto Rico in 1898, officials wanted to remodel Puerto Rican society into a system that resembled the United States, as U.S. officials considered the U.S. socioeconomic and political system respectable and stable. Through legalizing divorce and encouraging

1. Gilbert M. Joseph, "Close Encounters: Toward a New Cultural History of U.S.-Latin America," Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-. Latin American Relations. Gilbert M. Joseph, Catherine C. LeGrand, and Ricardo D. Salvatore, Editors, (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 11.
2. Ibid., 14.
3. Ibid., 8.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6