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The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
The United States has always imagined that its identity as a nation is insulated from violent interventions abroad, as if a line between domestic and foreign affairs could be neatly drawn. Yet this book argues that such a distinction, so obviously impracticable in our own global era, has been illusory at least since the war with Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century and the ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published March 15th 2005 by Harvard University Press (first published February 17th 2003)
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sdw
Aug 05, 2007 sdw rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: American literature, Theories of American Empire
The Anarchy of Empire is a brilliant, engaging and well-written work. The title comes from WEB Du Bois’s Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920), a text Kaplan analyzes in her final chapter.

Kaplan’s overarching argument is that America as empire collapses the boundaries between the domestic and the foreign even as it polices them. The anarchy of empire is both the “anarchy” the empire justifies itself in preventing, even as it is the anarchy caused by empire, and the resistance that thr
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Samuel
Apr 13, 2014 Samuel rated it liked it
Amy Kaplan centers her argument on the polarity of "domestic" and "foreign" in American culture beginning specifically with the Downes v. Bidwell Supreme Court case in 1901 that ruled that Puerto Rico was "foreign in a domestic sense" to the United States. This awkward political limbo status of U.S. territories acquired during the Spanish-American War a few years prior to the case has persisted to the present day demonstrating how complex the imperialistic expansion of the United States has been ...more
Lance
Feb 05, 2010 Lance rated it it was amazing
This is a well-argued book showing how the growth of imperial power structures relies on the creation of anarchy both within and without the borders of a nation. By looking at media in the 19th and 20th century, specifically literature and cinema, Kaplan shows how the representation of gender, race, and nation are inextricably tied. Though there are many questions left unanswered with regard to agency and counter-discourse, it is a foundational read.
John
Jun 09, 2012 John rated it liked it
Key turn in American Studies to shift to the field into a more international/transnational approach. Kaplan's point is that the "domestic" and the "foreign" always mutually inform one another. As a rule her readings of popular novels, journalism, and film from the 1850s through the 1940s are excellent and insightful, though in her first chapter she elides domesticity, the home, and femininity in maybe too liberal a sweep.
Tobias Cap
Mar 24, 2013 Tobias Cap rated it liked it
Good arguments and fresh insights dragged down by pompous descriptions and reiterations of the same ideas; she seems to enjoy writing compound sentences to the extreme. "Manifest Domesticity" is a great chapter, though, and the same goes for the final chapter on Du Bois.
Jennifer
Sep 22, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Nice analysis of what it means to being foreign vs. domestic in light of US imperialism, American nationhood as well as concepts of masculinity and domesticity.
Shannon
Mar 20, 2011 Shannon rated it it was amazing
I only read the "Manifest Domesticity" chapter for my orals exam, but really enjoyed it.
Kristin
Mar 09, 2012 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, argued, and organized. I want to write like her.
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Working in the interdisciplinary field of American studies, Amy Kaplan's scholarship and teaching focus on the culture of imperialism, comparative perspectives on the Americas, prison writing, the American novel, and mourning, memory and war.

A past president of the American Studies Association, Kaplan received her Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University, with a specialty in late-nineteenth-century
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