Friday, December 01, 2006

AHR Forum: Historical Perspectives on Anti-Americanism

The American Historical Review
October 2006, Vol: 111, No: 4
It is clear from many different sources that anti-Americanism around the world is at an all-time high. It is also clear, as the essays in this AHR Forum demonstrate, that anti-Americanism is hardly new. Nor is it simple. It is our hope that placing this phenomenon in a historical perspective might help us better understand its contemporary manifestations.
Academic historians are usually careful to qualify claims about the relevance of history with warnings about the fundamental remoteness of the past and the irreducible specificity of historical experiences. Their warnings are well-placed, for the call to make history relevant has often led to the misuse of the past and its exploitation for dubious ends. But in a sense, every historian who reads the morning paper "makes history relevant," insofar as he or she cannot resist wondering about the historical antecedents or analogies of the day's events. And when it comes to everyday assertions about the supposed intractability, changelessness, or utter novelty of contemporary affairs, the historian can provide a crucial public service by reminding us how wrong and misleading, in the light of history, these assertions are.
That is indeed the purpose of this AHR Forum. The three articles and comment show that anti-Americanism has a long and complex history, which belies any attempt to frame it as monolithic, ideologically determined in one direction, or historically constant. "Your Americanism and Mine: Americanism and Anti-Americanism in the Americas," by Greg Grandin, reminds us, as do the other contributions, that foreign perceptions of the United States were hardly of a piece. Grandin offers a complex analysis of both contrasting Latin American attitudes to the U.S. and the different faces America presented to its neighbors in the South. Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht's contribution, "Always Blame the Americans: Anti-Americanism in Europe in the Twentieth Century," adds to this complex, nuanced view of the sentiment, laying particular stress on the difference between cultural and political anti-Americanism. In "America in Asian Eyes," Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, focusing mostly on East Asia, demonstrate, among other things, the large role played by U.S. racial and colonial policies in fashioning Asian perceptions. Finally, in his comment, "Anti-Americanism: It's the Policies," Juan Cole offers both a critique of these three articles and his own view of the phenomenon from the vantage point of a Middle Eastern specialist. Together these articles add an element of historicity to a contemporary issue and contribute to a transnational understanding of American history as well.
Your Americanism and Mine: Americanism and Anti-Americanism in the Americas
Greg Grandin, New York University

Always Blame the Americans: Anti-Americanism in Europe in the Twentieth Century
Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht, Universität Frankfurt am Main

America in Asian Eyes
Warren I. Cohen, The University of Maryland
Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Georgetown University

Anti-Americanism: It's the Policies
Juan Cole, The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Düşünce Kahvesi



Reset Dialogues on Civilazations

NPR: World Music

NYT: Travel and Cities

H-Net Academic Announcements