Essay on Cold War and Transformation of Latin-American Studies

The thesis of the author is that events of the cold war and the role that South America played in the war led to a considerable increase in interest by the United States on the region and so necessitated scholarly discourse on the same. Academic work around the subject of Latin America, moreover, was heavily influenced by the events of the cold war hence intellectuals viewed Latin American issues through the lens of the cold war era (Chilcote 7).


The source in the methodology used by the author ranges from primary sources to secondary sources. Primary sources include the personal interviews, research, and observations that the author made on the subject to draw inferences that are accurate, non-biased and credible. The author also relied heavily on scholarly works by other authors with diverse opinions on the same subject. Generally, the author shows the shifts in intellectual thought in regards to Latin America influenced by the cold war and this is seen in the writings and works of the various scholars (Chilcote 7).

The sub theses present in the work give a logical explanation of the chronological shift in intellectual discourse towards Latin American studies and the factors that caused these shifts. One of the sub-themes of the text is the early American interest in Latin America for diplomatic and economic reasons. The author cites events such as annexation of Mexico and the war against Spain followed by the annexation of Puerto Rico. The construction of the Panama Canal is another event that proves just how much interest the United States had in Latin America even before the cold war. The prevailing intellectual ideologies at that time in history was that Latin America and the United States shared “a common past and a common future” (Chilcote 8) hence justifying a U.S intervention in the region.

A second sub- thesis in the text is the government-university partnership in the fight against communism with the advent of the cold war. There was a real threat to the United States national security and a general state of panic concerning the eventuality of the cold war. The number of individuals studying Latin America rose during this time as the academic community sought to help the government fight communism in the continent. Both liberal and conservative academics were in the fight and were involved in espionage through the OSS and C.I.A. (Chilcote 10).  The school of thought during this period was that there was a need to instate capitalism in Latin America and this was the only way that there would be economic and social progress in the region while also defeating the communistic grip that seemed to be taking over. This is evident in Walt W. Rostow’s book: Stages of Economic Development: A non- communist manifesto, cited by the author. The Mann doctrine which advocated for the respect of military professionalism and constitutional government only when there is no threat of communism received great academic support. The intellectual thinking at this in point in time had wholly changed and looked at Latin American affairs solely through the mirror of capitalism versus communism in which communism had to be defeated. The government also worked to influence this intellectual through by covertly affecting scholarly works and exposure to the reality on the ground.