Under Northern Eyes: Latin American Studies and U.S. Hegemony in the Americas, 1898-1990
By Mark T. Berger
Indiana University Press, 1995, 570 pp.
Halebsky and Harris have provided a collection of well-written chapters on contemporary Latin America from the perspective of the hard core of the old dependency school. John Weeks argues that the shift to neoliberal policies had little to do with the failure of import substitution but resulted directly from the debt crisis and the imposition of austerity measures. Jorge Nef claims that these policies required repressive regimes in the 1970s and 1980s but also delegitimized the civilian governments that came to power in the 1990s. Richard Harris and Weeks argue that the Latin American economies are more dependent than ever, and Cristobal Kay describes the agrarian transformations that have provoked massive urbanization and undermined the peasant sector. Most of this is depressingly predictable, though the volume will doubtless find a congenial resting place on undergraduate reading lists. The authors remain committed to a socialist alternative to the region's extreme inequality, which they believe is possible through an alliance of women's organizations, the new left political parties, indigenous movements, and environmentalists.
Given the touching persistence of their faith, the above authors will be disturbed not only by their consignment to the dustbin of history, but by Mark Berger's view of them as "more complementary to, than subverting of, U.S. hegemony." With substantially more notes than text, Berger's work is an extended bibliographical essay wrapped in an ideological straitjacket. Berger, a lecturer at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, surveys the role of Latin American studies in the United States, applying, he says, "imperial state theory and Gramscian international relations theory." Not surprisingly, he finds whole cloth where others might see complexity. There is much of interest in his comprehensive discussion of Latin American production over the past decades, to be sure, but Berger nowhere moves beyond the published literature or into the internal documentation of the U.S. funding agencies so well exploited in recent years by ValdJs, Puryear, and CastaZeda.