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The Hispanic History of the United States

Cambridge, MA. October 20, 2014. The Observatory of the Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University held a new session within the series "Conversations at the Observatory" dedicated to the history of the United States from a Hispanic perspective with Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a British historian and professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. The talk by Fernández-Armesto and the subsequent discussion was introduced by Amadeo Petitbó, director of the Rafael del Pino Foundation, and included participation by David Carrasco and Tamar Herzog, both professors at Harvard University.

Fernández-Armesto describes the pilgrimage of Hispanics in the United States throughout five centuries through documents, statements and cultural and literary events. His main argument is that the United States was, from the beginning, a "Spanish colonial enterprise.” This view of history, which is told from West to East and from North to South, shows that Spain determined the cultural profile of Latin America and, in turn, the United States. After showing great similarities between the United States and Latin countries, Fernández-Armesto explained the existence of a "mirror effect" while matching various climate zones with cultural parallelisms throughout America.


After the presentation of Fernández-Armesto, a discussion was led by David Carrasco, who shared his views on the book with particular focus on the role of Mexico. According to Carrasco, America has a Hispanic past and a Hispanic future. Furthermore, the theories of Samuel P. Huntington, which have come to regard immigration from Latin America to the United States as "a threat," were discussed. Tamar Herzorg, meanwhile, reflected on topics including the anglification of the United States, with particular focus on the progress of Puritanism, in addition to the differences between "origins and development," and the relationship between the Caribbean and the United States.

Among the conclusions of the event was the need to transform the current "American imperialism" in a "Latin American present,” leaving behind the stigmas that stereotype Latin America as a poor or underdeveloped region. After analyzing various demographic, economic and political reasons for the evolution of the United States, Fernández-Armesto stated in his final reflection that he considers the U.S. to be a new "multicultural bilingual power" that could redefine the concept of the American dream. This seminar was part of a tour by Fernández-Armesto through the Cervantes Institutes of the United States sponsored by the Rafael del Pino Foundation.

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