Empire and Dissent: The United States and Latin America. FRED ROSEN (ed.): Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008

Gregory Weeks Weeks


This is an ambitious but often frustrating book. Its goal, as laid out by Fred Rosen in the introduction, is to "explore the ways in which the contours of dissent and resistance have been generated by the activities of empire, as well as the ways in which the contours of empire have been given shape by opposition, resistance, and disaffection" (5). The ambition is to demonstrate the causal relationships between the empire of the United States on the one hand, and the resistance that has emerged as a result.

My frustration stems primarily from the fact that the book offers no definition of "empire" despite its centrality to the chapters. Rosen does not define it in the introduction. Indeed, one has to dig deeply into Alan Knight's impressive discussion of U.S. imperialism and hegemony to find the following in endnote 24: "I have deliberately refrained from trying to define imperialism" (47; emphasis in original). Endnote 99 states very plainly that "I have made the prudent but cowardly decision to avoid attempting any definition or discussion of "resistance," a concept that, due to overuse, may be yielding diminishing returns" (52).


The United States and Latin America,

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