Utopian Visionaries, Exiles, and Other Stateless Peoples in the Americas

AHA Session 127
Conference on Latin American History 27
Friday, January 6, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Room 401 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Colin Snider, University of Texas at Tyler
José Angel Hernández, University of Houston

Session Abstract

The study of exiles and political refugees in the history of twentieth-century Latin America has been shaped by the legacy of the Cold War and the U.S. campaign to stop the spread of Communism in the Western Hemisphere. Anti-communist campaigns gave rise to some of the most socially and politically repressive regimes of the century, and forced left-wing dissidents into exile across the globe. The activism of these exiles found ready global networks of support against authoritarianism in Latin America. The nineteenth century also witnessed political and social conflicts that produced exile populations comprised of Latin America’s political and intellectual elite. Nineteenth and early twentieth century exiles were compelled to cobble support networks from an array of fragmented and often contradictory ideological perspectives. Throughout the Americas in the nineteenth and early twentieth century political exile was employed as a convenient and bloodless means to rid the ruling elite of its political opposition in both liberal and conservative regimes, or to exclude “undesirable” populations. The factor that bound the experiences of these exiles was statelessness. With no desire to settle in their host nations and all of their productive capacities dedicated to affecting political change in their homelands, they found themselves at home nowhere. These exiles often navigated political landscapes that were foreign in many ways to those that animated their political or social activism in their home countries. This panel seeks to examine those foreign political landscapes and the ways in which exiles have engaged with them throughout the Americas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Morgan’s research focuses on Mormon colonists seeking refuge in northern Mexico in the late nineteenth century. Morgan examines the interplay between religion and ethnicity and the actions of Mormon refugees in Mexico who found themselves between their home in the United States and their adopted home in Mexico. Dodson’s work employs the concepts of exile and statelessness in his examination of elite political and religious Mexican exiles in the United States who find unlikely allies among the throngs of two decades of the “losers” of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Cold War Chile is the setting for Crago’s contribution to this panel. His work on Pinochet-era agrarian reform in Southern Chile sheds light on the influence of an Italian-born Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) consultant in the formulation of Chilean state policies widely touted as the work of the “Chicago Boys.” Crago follows the work of Cristobal Unterrichter, a stateless Cold Warrior equally unhinged from the dictates of the FAO, and the Pinochet regime. Ross’s contribution explores the memories of transnational actors whose experiences placed them on the fringes of empires and nation states along the North American Pacific coast in the late nineteenth century. Ross emphasizes the limitations of examining these individuals’ experiences in the narrow context of the nation-state, and suggests that they must be seen in a larger transnational frame.

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