“In the Name of the Anglo-Saxon Race”: Latin America in the Travel Writing of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838–42

Saturday, January 4, 2014: 9:20 AM
Forum Room (Omni Shoreham)
Mary Anne Junqueira, Universidade de São Paulo
This presentation will discuss the images and representations of Latin America found in the travel writings of the North American scientific circumnavigation expedition by the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1832-1842) commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes. Although the main interest of this voyage was the exploration of the Pacific — a region partly “unknown” to Western powers, without precise mapping — subject to dispute by European powers, Latin America was also widely covered by the expedition. I propose that in order to understand the impressions of Charles Wilkes, the author of the narrative, about the region it is necessary to understand the conception of the Anglo-Saxon race that dominated circles in the United States in general, and the U. S. Navy in particular, in the first half of the nineteenth century. This conception was based on the idea of the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and Wilkes, a voice of authority that gave judgement on various parts of the globe, viewed Latin America and Latin Americans in a negative way, constructing a distancing between the United States, "founded by Anglo-Saxons" and the “countries colonized by Spain and Portugal” of the Western Hemisphere.