American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to by Neil Smith

By Neil Smith

An American Empire, developed over the past century, some time past overtook eu colonialism, and it's been greatly assumed that the recent globalism it espoused took us "beyond geography." Neil Smith debunks that assumption, delivering an incisive argument that American globalism had a different geography and was once pieced jointly as a part of a robust geographical imaginative and prescient. the ability of geography didn't die with the twilight of ecu colonialism, however it did swap essentially. That the inauguration of the yank Century introduced a lack of public geographical sensibility within the usa used to be itself a political symptom of the rising empire. This publication presents an essential geographical-historical context for figuring out the facility and boundaries of up to date globalization, which could now be obvious as representing the 3rd of 3 precise old moments of U.S. worldwide ambition.The tale unfolds via a decisive account of the occupation of Isaiah Bowman (1878-1950), the main recognized American geographer of the 20th century. for almost 4 a long time Bowman operated round the vortex of nation energy, operating to carry an American order to the worldwide panorama. An explorer at the well-known Machu Picchu day trip of 1911 who got here to be identified first as "Woodrow Wilson's geographer," and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt's, Bowman used to be current on the construction of U.S. liberal overseas coverage. A quarter-century later, Bowman used to be on the heart of Roosevelt's kingdom division, interested by the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. entry to ecu colonies; he used to be defined via Dean Acheson as a key "architect of the United Nations." In that interval he used to be a pacesetter in American technological know-how, served as president of Johns Hopkins collage, and have become an early and vociferous chilly warrior. a sophisticated, contradictory, and now and then debatable determine who used to be a great deal within the public eye, he seemed at the conceal of Time journal. Bowman's occupation as a geographer in an period whilst the worth of geography was once deeply wondered presents a special window into the contradictory makes use of of geographical wisdom within the development of the yank Empire. Smith's historic excavation finds, in huge strokes but with full of life element, that modern day American-inspired globalization springs no longer from the Eighties yet from previous moments in 1919 and 1945, either one of which resulted in failure. via recharting the geography of this background, Smith brings the politics--and the limits--of modern globalization sharply into concentration.

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Congress in 1987 established an annual “Geography Awareness Week” in response to polls demonstrating lamentable popular ignorance of geography. Two years later the ex–secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger appealed to Harvard University to initiate a widespread reintroduction of geography in schools and universities. 9 Even more powerfully, the so-called cultural turn in the humanities and social sciences, from Michel Foucault to feminism, from post-structuralism to postmodernism, has been underwritten by a broad deployment of spatial metaphors, making the turn simultaneously cultural and spatial.

Luce was telling Americans that they could put themselves back into the world without necessarily learning much about it. The triviality of geography that Luce labored to convey in 1941 successive generations took for granted, and he hammered the point home: “If we cannot state war aims in terms of vastly distant geography, . . S. power. Possessing this new global power, he sensed, meant not having to care about the world’s geography. Precisely because geography was everything—the American Century was global—it was simultaneously nothing.

Decline seem assured, however, than the picture changed again. S. economy; and the implosion of official communism after 1989: all these developments made the mounting death notices for the American 6 / lost geography of the american century Century conspicuously premature. S. rise to globalism. It encouraged Bill Clinton, in his 1999 State of the Union address, to envisage a “next American Century,” and it undergirded the so-called war on terrorism after 2001. The self-congratulatory geography of this capitalist revolution was global, and its language, utopian.

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