Texas Tech University

Taking Root: Revolutionary Ideals and Socioeconomic Realities in Latin America

Dr. Bryan Vizzini

Associate Professor, Department of History, West Texas A&M University.

While the American Revolution and the ideas that fueled it raised hope for change in the Americas, regional demographic and economic variation resulted in a multitude of different responses to, and adaptations of, revolutionary ideals. Like their counterparts in the newly formed United States Latin Americans chafed under the yoke of new restrictions and laws designed to maximize profit for the home country while diminishing their own rights and efforts to establish regional autonomy. The prospect of a race war, like that which engulfed Haiti, though, left many of the local elite fearful of any widespread political or military mobilization. Thus, regions with large indigenous or African populations (like Mexico, Peru, and Cuba) tended to be least responsive to the spirit of change and revolution, while the Southern Cone (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay) with its largely Spanish population tended to embrace revolution much sooner and with fewer reservations. The emergence of grass roots revolutionary movements from below in Mexico and Venezuela added additional complications. In short, the American Revolution helped to plant the seeds of change in Latin America but the nature and extent of such future changes depended largely on local social and economic factors.

Dr. Bryan Vizzini obtained his PhD in Latin American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999. After brief teaching stints at Guilford College and East Carolina University, Dr. Vizzini accepted a tenure-track position at West Texas A&M University where he is entering his fourteenth year. Dr. Vizzini's dissertation focused on changes in local Mexican political culture following independence. His more recent research deals with the Cold War and popular culture, both on screen and in print, with articles appearing in Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Americana, and Journal of Popular Film and Television.

Dr. Vizzini's lecture was held in the International Cultural Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, June 26, 2014. This event was cosponsored by the TTU K-12 Global Education Outreach and supported by a grant from the Center for Global Understanding.