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Projections of Power: The United States and Europe in Colonial Southeast Asia, 1919-1941 (American Encounters/Global Interactions) [Paperback]

Anne L. Foster

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Book Description

25 Nov 2010 American Encounters/Global Interactions
Throughout its history, the United States has been both imperialistic and anti-colonial: imperialistic in its expansion across the continent and across oceans to colonies such as the Philippines, and anti-colonial in its rhetoric and ideology. How did this contradiction shape U.S. interactions with European colonists and Southeast Asians after the United States joined the ranks of colonial powers in 1898? Anne L. Foster argues that the actions of the United States functioned primarily to uphold, and even strengthen, the colonial order in Southeast Asia. The United States participated in international agreements to track and suppress the region's communists and radical nationalists, and it entered into economic agreements benefitting the colonial powers. Yet the American presence did not always serve colonial ends; American cultural products (including movies and consumer goods) and its economic practices (such as encouraging indigenous entrepreneurship) were appropriated by Southeast Asians for their own purposes. Scholars rarely have explored the interactions among the European colonies of Southeast Asia in the early twentieth century. Foster is the first to incorporate the U.S. into such an analysis. As she demonstrates, the presence of the United States as a colonial power in Southeast Asia after the First World War helps to explain the resiliency of colonialism in the region. It also highlights the inexorable and appealing changes Southeast Asians perceived as possibilities for the region's future.

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"With Anne L. Foster's superb workosolidly based on documentary sources from Europe, Asia, and the United Statesothe story of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam now should begin not with the 1950s, but a half-century earlier when Americans publicly preached their 1776 anti-colonialism while quietly supporting the European colonial powers in Southeast Asia. As Foster demonstrates, Americans notably sent Charlie Chaplin's Hollywood films ('trade follows the film') and Christian missionaries to help with the colonial work. This book puts anotheroand elegantonail in the coffin of so-called 'American isolationism' before World War II by analyzing the 1900-1930s era as the background necessary for understanding the tragic wars of 1950 to 1975."oWalter LaFeber, author of The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad since 1750 "Projections of Power will no doubt attract attention from scholars working in fields from U.S. diplomatic history to imperial and postcolonial studies and modern Southeast Asian history. Anne L. Foster's capacious narrative and marvellously expansive primary source base allow her to consider America and Americans from transnational perspectives, including those of the other major colonial powers in Southeast Asia and the Southeast Asians themselves. Her book is a major contribution to efforts to destabilize still prevailing notions of American exceptionalism."oMark Philip Bradley, author of Vietnam at War

About the Author

Anne L. Foster is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana State University. She is an editor of "The American Colonial State in the Philippines: Global Perspectives," also published by Duke University Press.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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