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On the Internal Border: Colonial Difference, the Cold War, and the Locations of “Underdevelopment”

  • Alyosha Goldstein (a1)

In 1962, the recently established Peace Corps announced plans for an intensive field training initiative that would acclimate the agency's burgeoning multitude of volunteers to the conditions of poverty in “underdeveloped” countries and immerse them in “foreign” cultures ostensibly similar to where they would be later stationed. This training was designed to be “as realistic as possible, to give volunteers a ‘feel’ of the situation they will face.” With this purpose in mind, the Second Annual Report of the Peace Corps recounted, “Trainees bound for social work in Colombian city slums were given on-the-job training in New York City's Spanish Harlem…. New Mexican Indian reservations and Spanish-speaking villages make realistic workshops for community development trainees. Puerto Rico provides experience in living in a Latin American environment. The Island of Hawaii, with its multiracial population, remote valleys and varied rural economy, performs a similar function for volunteers headed for Southeast Asia.”1 Local communities throughout the United States were chosen for their apparent similarities to locations abroad such that they might serve as a staging ground for President John F. Kennedy's vaunted Cold War diplomatic venture.

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1 Corps Peace, Second Annual Report (Washington, D.C: Peace Corps Office of Public Affairs, 1963), 36.

2 Initially presented as the fourth policy objective in Truman's 1949 inauguration speech, Point Four was the first extensive U.S. foreign aid program for the non-European world and a corollary to the 1947 Truman Doctrine aimed at recruiting the allegiance of the nonaligned. In 1950, the objectives of Point Four were formalized in the Act for International Development.

3 Mignolo Walter, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

4 President Harry S. Truman's inaugural address, 20 Jan. 1949. Excerpted as “The President's Proposal” in, Daniels Walter M., ed., The Point Four Program, (New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1951).

5 Economic Report of the President, with The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisors (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1964), 55.

6 O'Connor Alice, Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 99123.

7 Timothy Mitchell, “Origins and Limits of the Modern Idea of the Economy” (MS, Workshop on Positivism and Post-Positivism, University of Chicago, Oct. 2001). Quotations are from pages 18–19, 20, 22. Also see Radice Hugo, “The National Economy: A Keynesian Myth?Capital and Class 22 (1984): 111–40; and Mitchell's “Economists and the Economy in the Twentieth Century” in, Steinmetz George, ed., The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and Its Epistemological Others (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).

8 Rahnema Majid, “Global Poverty: A Pauperizing Myth,” Interculture 24, 2 (1991): 451. Arturo Escobar elaborates on Rahnema's claims in Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

9 Gilman Nils, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 9294.

10 Lewis first proposed his “culture of poverty” thesis in Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (New York: Basic Books, 1959). O'Connor's Poverty Knowledge provides a nuanced reading of the “culture of poverty” thesis and its subsequent uses.

11 On Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and the history of United States-American Indian treaties, see Deloria Vine Jr., Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence, 2d ed. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985); and Glenn T. Morris, “Vine Deloria, Jr., and the Development of a Decolonizing Critique of Indigenous Peoples and International Relations” in, Richard A. Grounds, George E. Tinker, and David E. Wilkins, eds., Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2003). On the Insular Cases and the legal construction of the “unincorporation,” see Duffy Burnett Christina and Marshall Burke, eds., Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001). On the disputed legacy of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, see del Castillo Richard Griswold, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). For insights into the racialized terms of the Treaty see Saldaña-Portillo María Josefina, “‘Wavering on the Horizon of Social Being’: The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and the Legacy of Its Racial Character in Paredes' George Washington Gómez,” Radical History Review 89 (Spring 2004): 135–64.

12 D'Arcy McNickle, “A Ten-Point Program for American Indians,” National Congress of American Indians, 1951 Convention, St. Paul, Minn. (Conventions and Mid-Year Conferences, Speeches 1951; NCAI, Conventions, 1950–1953, Box 3; National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. [hereafter NAA]). On federal termination policy, see Fixico Donald L., Termination and Relocation: Federal Indian Policy, 1945–1960 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986); Deloria Vine Jr. and Lytle Clifford M., The Nations Within: The Past and Future of American Indian Sovereignty (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998 [1984]); Kenneth R. Philp, Termination Revisited: American Indians and the Trail to Self-Determination, 1933–1953 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999); andWilkins David E. and Tsianina Lomawaima K., Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).

13 For a history of the NCAI between 1944 and 1961, see Cowger Thomas W., The National Congress of American Indians: The Founding Years (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

14 McNickle D'Arcy, “U.S. Indian Affairs—1953,” América Indígena 13 (Oct. 1953): 273.

15 Cowger, The National Congress of American Indians, 108–9, 117.

16 As quoted in Fey Harold E. and McNickle D'Arcy, Indians and Other Americans: Two Ways of Life Meet (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 198.

17 “Announcement of Opportunity to Study ‘Operation Bootstrap’ in Puerto Rico,” 12 Feb. 1958 (National Congress of American Indians—Puerto Rico Study Trip [Operation Bootstrap 1956–1958]; NCAI Fundraising, Box 6, NAA).

18 “Misión de los Pueblos Indios de Norteamérica en Puerto Rico,” El Mundo, 6 Mar. 1958; Ramon M. Diaz, “Muñoz Va A Congreso De Indios,” El Imparcial, 6 Mar. 1958.

19 Fahey John, Saving the Reservation: Joe Garry and the Battle to Be Indian (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001), 123.

20 Cowger, The National Congress of American Indians, 122–23; House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Operation Bootstrap for the American Indian: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, H.R. 7701, 8803, and 8590, 86th Congress, 2d Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960), 27.

21 Operation Bootstrap, 77.

22 Operation Bootstrap, 81.

23 U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Toward Economic Development for Native American Communities, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1969), 236.

24 Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, ed., Economic Development in American Indian Reservations (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Native American Studies Development Series 1, 1979); Dean Howard Smith, Modern Tribal Development: Paths to Self-Sufficiency and Cultural Integrity in Indian Country (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2000); Brian Hosmer and Colleen O'Neill, eds., Native Pathways: Indian Culture and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2004).

25 Reuss Henry S., “A Point Four Youth Corps” in Pauline Madow, ed., The Peace Corps (New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1964), 12.

26 Rice Gerald T., The Bold Experiment: JFK's Peace Corps (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985), 1012.

27 Indeed, historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman has commented, “The Peace Corps brought into the American lexicon a new term—culture shock—which it did not invent but certainly helped to popularize.” All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 134.

28 Cleveland Harlan and Mangone Gerard J., eds., The Art of Overseasmanship (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1957); and Cleveland Harlan et al., The Overseas Americans (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960).

29 Oberg Kalervo, “Culture Shock: Adjustment to New Cultural Environments,” Practical Anthropology 7, 4 (July-Aug. 1960): 177–82. This essay originally appeared in the State Department's Technical Assistance Overseas Bulletin.

30 Arnold Charles B., “Culture Shock and a Peace Corps Field Mental Health Program,” Community Mental Health Journal 3, 1 (Spring 1967): 5360. Also see Textor Robert B., ed., Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1966).

31 On the centrality of psychological thought as a normative framework in mid-twentieth-century U.S. thought, see Ward Steven C., Modernizing the Mind: Psychological Knowledge and the Remaking of Society (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002).

32 Ginsberg Mitchell, “Short-Term Training for the Peace Corps,” Social Work (Jan. 1964): 6268; Samuels Gertrude, “Peace Corps Trains in New York,” New York Times, 21 Oct 1962: 252; “Peace Corps Trainees Work, Study in New York Slums,” Peace Corps Volunteer 1, 1 (Nov. 1962): 1.

33 Quoted in Ginsberg, “Short-Term Training,” 65.

34 Characterization quoted from Sullivan George, The Story of the Peace Corps (New York: Fleet Publishing, 1964), 6465. Regarding how certain sectors of Hawaìi encouraged field training on the islands, see “Concurrent Resolution of Hawaii Legislature Relating to Peace Corps,” Congressional Record 107, 4 (1961): 4849; and Englund David L., “Peace Corps Training and the American University,” International Review of Education 11, 2 (1965): 209–17.

35 The reference here is to Moritz Thomsen's memoir Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969), which is emblematic of a number of laudatory Peace Corps volunteer memoirs published during the 1960s.

36 Michael Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and “Nation Building” in the Kennedy Era (Charlottesville: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 144–46. Sargent Shriver, reiterating the conventional interpretation of Frederick Jackson Turner's “frontier thesis,” insisted, “the Peace Corps is truly a new frontier in the sense that it provides the challenge of self-reliance and independent action which the vanished frontier once provided on our own continent. Sharing in the progress of other countries helps us to rediscover ourselves at home” (in Latham, Modernization as Ideology, 145).

37 “A Proposed Training Center for Peace Corps Personnel, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 10, 1961,” 1–2, Box 1; and Tom L. Popejoy, President, UNM, letter to Dr. Joseph Kauffman, Chief, Training Program, Peace Corps, Washington, D.C., 2 June 1962, Colombia III Training Proposal 1962, Box 8, Peace Corps Collection, Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque [hereafter PC/CSWR].

38 Mead Margaret, Cultural Patterns and Technical Change (New York: Mentor Books, 1955), 151–77. The cover text on the Mentor popular press edition read: “An exciting voyage to distant lands where century-old methods of ancient people give way to the most modern machines and techniques mankind has devised” (my emphasis).

39 Clark S. Knowlton, “Area Development in New Mexico: Implications for Dependency and for Economic and Social Growth,” New Mexico Conference of Social Welfare, 1961–1962 (Clark S. Knowlton Collection, Box 33, Folder 8, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe), 2, 4.

40 Ganzales-Berry Erlinda and Maciel David R., eds., The Contested Homeland: A Chicano History of New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000); and Montgomery Charles, The Spanish Redemption: Heritage, Power, and Loss on New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

41 Forrest Suzanne, The Preservation of the Village: New Mexico's Hispanics and the New Deal, 2d ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998).

42 See, for instance, Rivera José A., Acequia Culture: Water, Land and Community in the Southwest (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998).

43 Burma John H. and Williams David E., An Economic, Social and Educational Survey of Rio Arriba and Taos Counties (El Rito, N.M.: Northern New Mexico College, 1960) provides contemporary data on the complexity of class and ethnic relations in the area.

44 “The Entrance of C.D. into Northern New Mexico Communities,” Mar.–Apr. 1963, Box 4, PC/CSWR.

45 Nabokov Peter, Tijerina and the Courthouse Raid (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969); Gardner Richard, ¡Grito!: Tijerina and the New Mexico Land Grant War of 1967 (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970); López Tijerina Reies, They Called Me “King Tiger”: My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2000).

46 “Phase I & II Lesson Plans,” Community Development, Box 4, PC/CSWR.

47 “Manual for PCV's Field Work,” Training—Community Development—Field Training, Box 5, PC/CSWR.

48 “Field Experience—Colombia XIII,” Evaluations, Oct. 1963; and “Group Leaders' Report—Week of ‘Field Utilization,’ Colombia XIII,” 19 Oct. 1963, Training—Community Development—Field Training, Box 4, PC/CSWR.

49 Elliot V. Smith, “Peace Corps Training Center Evaluation, October 11, 1965,” Training—Community Development—Evaluation of Program, Box 7, PC/CSWR.

50 Bill McKinstry, “Field Experience—Purpose,” report reprinted in John Arango, “The Community Development Program of the University of New Mexico Peace Corps Training Center for Latin America” (Albuquerque, N.M.: June 1965), 134–45 (Report—Community Development Program 1965, Box 3, PC/CSWR).

51 Field Experience—Purpose, Training—Community Development—Training Plans in New Mexico 1965, Box 7, PC/CSWR.

52 John Arango, “The Community Development Program of the University of New Mexico Peace Corps Training Center for Latin America” (Albuquerque, N.M.: June 1965), 134 (Report—Community Development Program 1965, Box 3, PC/CSWR).

53 Peace Corps, Second Annual Report, 36.

54 Arango, “The Community Development Program,” 51.

55 John Arango, memo to David T. Benedetti, Director of the UNM Peace Corps Training Center, 14 Apr. 1965, 5–6, Correspondence—General 1965, Box 3, PC/CSWR.

56 John Arango, letter to Jules Pagano, 8 Feb. 1965, Correspondence—General 1965, Box 3, PC/CSWR.

57 Pagano Jules, Education in the Peace Corps: Evolving Concepts of Volunteer Training (Boston: Boston University Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults, 1965), vii.

58 Pagano, Education in the Peace Corps, 34.

59 “No Changes, Please,” The New Mexican, 6 Dec. 1963: n.p.

60 Letter, Crisóforo Martínez to Marshall Nason, Director, UNM Peace Corps Training, 28 Mar. 1964, El Llano, N.M., Training—Community Development, Box 7, PC/CSWR.

61 The quotation is from “Peace Corps Trainees Enroute to Villanueva…,” Daily Optic, 22 Apr. 1964: 1. Also see “New Peace Corps Members Arrive,” Daily Optic, 8 May 1964: 1; “Peace Corps Work Continues,” Daily Optic, 8 May 1964: 1; “Villanueva Area Development Group Elects,” Daily Optic, 16 June 1964: 1.

62 “U.S. Peace Corps Training Center to Close Jan. 21,” Albuquerque Journal, 5 Jan. 1967: n.p. (Newspaper articles—1967, Box 3, PC/CSWR). Lack of University enthusiasm was probably a contributing factor as well. UNM President Tom Popejoy wrote Peace Corps Training Center Director David Benedetti, “it seems to me that this is an appropriate time for us to give more attention to instructional and research programs which relate to South America” (16 Jan. 1967, Correspondence—General—1967, Box 3, PC/CSWR).

63 Albert R. Wight and Mary Anne Hammons, Guidelines for Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Training, 4 vols. (Estes Park, Colo.: Center for Research and Education, and Washington, D.C.: Peace Corps Office of Training Support, 1970), ix, x.

64 “Peace Corps: Negroes Play Vital Role in U.S. Quest for Friends Abroad,” Ebony 17 (Nov. 1961): 38–40; “Peace Corps Training at Howard: Negro University Prepares Interracial Group for U.S. Good-Will Missions Abroad,” Ebony 18 (Nov. 1962): 69–77; Thurston Juanita, “Valuable Job of Volunteer,” Christian Science Monitor (16 June 1971): 12; “Minority Activity in the Peace Corps,” Congressional Record 117, 18 (6 July 1971), 23541–42; Zimmerman Jonathan, “Beyond Double Consciousness: Black Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa, 1961–1971,” Journal of American History 82, 3 (Dec. 1995): 9991028; Amin Julius A., “The Peace Corps and the Struggle for African American Equality,” Journal of Black Studies 29, 6 (July 1999): 809–26.

65 Ashabranner Brent, A Moment in History: The First Ten Years of the Peace Corps (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1971), 259.

66 Memo, Sargent Shriver to the President, 27 July 1965, “Weekly Report of Peace Corps Activities,” Peace Corps 1965, Box 129, Confidential Files, Agency Reports, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.

67 Leon Ginsburg, “Project Peace Pipe” (Report presented at the Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity board meeting, 8 July 1967), 3; Fred R. Harris Collection, Box 284, Folder 16; Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, Congressional Archives, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

68 Harris LaDonna, LaDonna Harris: A Comanche Life, Henrietta Stockel H., ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 5964, 80–82.

69 Mrs. Harris [LaDonna Harris] Fred R. and Ginsberg Leon H., “Project Peace Pipe: Indian Youth Pre-Trained for Peace Corps Duty,” Journal of American Indian Education 7, 2 (Jan. 1968): 26.

70 Harris and Ginsberg, “Project Peace Pipe”: 23.

71 Fischer Fritz, Making Them Like Us: Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998), 102–3.

72 On this point, also see Ashabranner, A Moment in History, 268–70; and Jack Anderson , “Peace Corps Indian Project Fails,” Washington Post, 4 Nov. 1970: B19.

73 Interview with LaDonna Harris, 6 June 2006, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

74 For discussions of the “internal border,” see Balibar Étienne, “Fichte and the Internal Border: On Addresses to the German Nation,” in Masses, Classes, Ideas (New York: Routledge, 1994); and Redfield Marc, “Imagi-Nation: The Imagined Community and the Aesthetics of Mourning” in, Culler Jonathan and Cheah Pheng, eds., Grounds of Comparison: Around the Work of Benedict Anderson (New York: Routledge, 2003), 75105.

75 Balibar Étienne, Politics and the Other Scene (London: Verso, 2002), 154. Balibar contrasts “real universality” with “fictive universality” and “ideal universality.” Fictive universality has to do with the domain of institutions and representations. Ideal universality is intended to suggest “the fact that universality also exists as an ideal, in the form of absolute or infinite claims which are symbolically raised against the limits of any institution” (163–64).

76 Mehta Uday Singh, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 46.

77 Mehta, Liberalism and Empire, 191.

78 As quoted in Cobbs Hoffman, All You Need Is Love, 197.

79 “Address by Sargent Shriver before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, D.C., 18 Apr. 1964,” Aides Files—Richard N. Goodwin, Box 24; Poverty Speeches; Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.

80 “The Werner Report: Board Dissents with Report,” Navajo Times, 15 Jan. 1970: 19.

Acknowledgments Many thanks to Rebecca Schreiber, George Yúdice, Marilyn Young, Alex Lubin, Amanda Cobb, Sam Truett, and Carmen Nocentelli for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay, as well as to Andrew Shryock for his enthusiasm and encouragement. I am grateful to archivist Terry Gugliotta for her assistance with the UNM Peace Corps documents. This essay has also benefited tremendously from generous and discerning critique by anonymous reviewers for CSSH.

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