Liberalism in the Americas

Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of Latin American Studies

Research interests:
Communities, Classes, Races, Digitisation, Modern History , Political Institutions, Social Sciences
North America, South America
Project period:
01-May-2011 - 30-Nov-2012
Project summary:
The Americas, both “north” and “south”, were born liberal; products of, and experiments in, political philosophies and forms of government forged in the fire of the Enlightenment. Of course in neither region was liberalism applied evenly, and many throughout the Americas were and continue to be denied full access to what its original champions promised to deliver. Today liberalism in the Americas appears at once triumphant and in turn imperilled. In the United States while the free-market is the only game in town, liberalism as a political philosophy faces increasing competition from neo-conservative thought. In Latin America, meanwhile, neo-liberal economic prescriptions have been embraced in some countries but are openly rejected in others, while ‘political’ liberalism faces competition from a number of alternatives. And yet, for these very reasons, liberalism remains the key referent in current debates on the economic and political direction that the nations of the Americas should take. As in earlier periods, the primacy of liberalism today is contested but its centrality to the economic and political identity of the Americas is clear.

This project is working to construct an annotated digital library on liberalism in the Americas, including the key texts that shaped liberal thought and praxis in the region since the late eighteenth century. We are also working to identify and include selected archival materials?political pamphlets, judicial records, and political ephemera?to facilitate explorations of liberalism’s broader social history. Ultimately, this library will provide researchers, educators and policy makers around the world with the tools to develop comparative and transnational historical studies that will enhance our understanding of liberalism’s purchase in the Americas and its myriad contestations. In the current phase of the project, the resources focus on the cases of Peru, Argentina and Mexico, c. 1780-1930, and will later expand to provide a hemispheric perspective.

Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Deborah Toner Institute for the Study of the Americas