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James Siekmeier, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Director of FACDIS

http://facdis.wvu.edu/

Teaching Fields

Degrees

Research Interests

In Dr. Siekmeier's book, The Bolivian Revolution and the United States, 1952 to the Present, he investigates the multifaceted relationship between the most powerful nation in the world and one of world’s poorer nations, Bolivia. Despite the asymmetry of power, Bolivia’s relationship with the United States has been a two-way street. Bolivia has managed, in some ways, to influence its relationship with the United States. Some Bolivian leaders have skillfully used Bolivia’s chronic political instability to obtain increased U.S. support. These officials informed their counterparts in Washington that Bolivia could be on the verge of political collapse—unless U.S. leaders gave increased assistance—which then was quickly forthcoming. In addition, during the Cold War, Bolivian officials quietly sent out feelers to the Eastern Bloc nations for assistance, in order to leverage more aid from the United States. The technique worked: as soon as U.S. officials discovered Bolivia’s contacts with the communist nations, Washington increased assistance to Bolivia. Moreover Bolivian leaders have resisted Washington’s attempts to promote U.S. culture into Bolivia, such as when Bolivia abruptly asked U.S. Peace Corps volunteers to leave in 1971. Bolivian leaders disagreed with Peace Corps policy of promoting population/birth control; Bolivian officials thought limiting Bolivia’s population would weaken the nation in the long run.

His current research investigates the intersection of one very trendy concept, globalization, with one that has not been investigated much of late: Latin American nationalism. Scholars of globalization, more focused on the industrialized world and the post-colonial societies of Asia and Africa, have overlooked Latin America – leaving a gap in the literature that I am filling. Using an historical perspective, he argues that because Latin America’s economic, social, and political development were very much the product of, and contributed to, global influences, Latin American nationalism can only be understood as part of a dynamic, unfolding global process over the centuries. Taking the story of Latin American nationalism up to the present, one finds that a recent resurgence in Latin American nationalism can be explained in part as a defense against globalization – which many Latin Americans think is another example of powerful outsiders controlling their destiny.

Courses Offered

Publications

La revolución nacional y los Estados Unidos : conflictos y negociaciones, 1952-1964 / James F. Siekmeier ; traducción e Hans Huber Abendroth. La Paz, Bolivia: Plural, 2014

The Bolivian Revolution and the United States, 1945-present (Penn State University Press, 2011)

“Nationalism and Globalization in Latin America,” Current History 15, February 2015.

” The Iran –Contra Scandal,” in Andrew Johns, ed. A Companion to Ronald Reagan (Wiley-Blackwell Companions to American History), 2015.

“La Revolución Nacional en Bolivia y los Estados Unidos: conflicto, nacionalismo, y negociatión, 1952-1971,” in Roberto García Ferreira, ed., Nada templada: La Guerra Fria Latinamericana (Montevideo: Universidad de la República, Departamento de Historia Americana, 2010).

“Latin American Economic Nationalism and United States-Latin American Relations, 1945-1961.” The Latin Americanist 52:3 (October 2008): 59-76.

“Persistent Condor and Predatory Eagle: Bolivian Relations with the United States, 1952-1964,” essay published in Statler, Kathryn C., and Johns, Andrew L., eds., The Eisenhower Administration, the Third World, and the Globalization of the Cold War, (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006).

“Politics, Access, and History: The Chile Declassification Project of 1998-2000,” Hemisphere (October 2004).

“Trailblazer Diplomat: Victor Andrade Uzquiano’s Efforts to Influence U.S. Policy, 1944-1962,” Diplomatic History 28 (June 2004).

“A Sacrificial Llama? The Expulsion of the Peace Corps from Bolivia in 1971,” Pacific Historical Review 69 (February 2000).