The First World War was a global event that intensively involved Latin America. From the beginning, Latin Americans sensed that this war had worldwide scope. For many observers, the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 represented a profound turning point in the unfolding of history. Because of the breakdown of the European civilizational and development model, and in the unreserved belief in human progress in the years from 1914 to 1918, a world where Latin America had occupied a fixed position was effectively gone. Many contemporary witnesses agreed that an era had ended in the days of August 1914, and a new, still uncertain age had begun. The war stimulated the massive utilization of new forms of media like photography and cinema. Press photography proved to be an important instrument of propaganda, which contributed to the worldwide circulation of war pictures that seemed to depict objective reality. The understanding of reality expanded, for what was real no longer simply pertained to one’s own life, but also to events mediated through imagery. It was precisely in places like Latin America, where there was a geographical separation from the front lines that people experienced the war, both privately and publicly, through media-produced images. What is more, the World War I took place there especially as a propaganda war, which also caused a largely unprecedented form of radical hatemongering among rivals to spread in the subcontinent. Consequently, the traditional bias toward European models proved to be obsolete and the future had to be conceived anew. Due to this attitude, the call for a reorientation of identities on a national and regional level, which had already gained momentum before the war, became even louder. Scholarship on Latin American history has for decades largely ignored the First World War as a major event in which the continent played a part. This was mainly due to historiography’s focus on the nation and as well as initially on military and diplomatic, and later social and economic, topics. Only recently, with the rise of the new cultural history and global history, have the tides started to turn. Several important studies have now been published.
For decades, an awareness of the interrelationship between local development and global entanglements during the First World War was hardly expressed in the historiography of Latin America. In general, historiography tends to separate the developmental phase of the Latin American states in the “long 19th century” from their evolution into modern mass societies until around 1930. All the same, a comprehensive historiography of the Latin American role in World War I emerged early on. The first contributions that appeared at the end of the war were trying to make sense of its impact, and arguments were a kind of score settling. Texts such as Gaillard 1918, Kirkpatrick 1918, or Barrett 1919 concentrated on the diplomatic level and mostly distinguished in their assessments between “good” (those who supported the Allies) and “evil” (those who stayed neutral) countries. Martin 1967 (first published 1925) was the first to take a less partisan look at the subject, though Martin’s evaluation of Mexican politics remained wholly under the sway of anti-revolutionary sentiments. Afterward, the First World War fell out of sight for some time, as the Great Depression and World War II drew the world’s attention. It was not until the advent of dependence theory that interest was rekindled in the significance of the Great War. Frank 1969 identified the period of the First World War as proof of the thesis that independent industrialization in Latin America was possible due to the break with external ties. As historians examined the theories of the dependence theorists more closely, however, they proved largely untenable. Albert 1988 demonstrated that external dependencies rather increased because of economic warfare, and that the export sector actually grew. The first comprehensive study of Latin America and the World War I based on multi-archival research in most countries of the region is Rinke 2015. This work is written from a perspective of global history integrating the Latin American experience into the historiographical trend of globalizing the war, which up to that moment had been written mainly from a European angle. Rinke and other historians of Latin America have also amply contributed to the 1914–1918-Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War, a most helpful and up-to-date open-access online tool covering all world regions. Most recently the volumes Garciadiego 2017; Compagnon, et al. 2018; and Correia and Moreli 2019 have contributed to decentering the historiography of the First World War by discussing Latin America cases.
Albert, Bill. South America and the First World War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
An economic and social history of four South American countries during wartime and a standard work.
Barrett, John. Latin America and the War. Washington, DC: Pan American Union, 1919.
An overview by the director general of the Pan American Union, who claimed that by no means could the maintenance of neutrality by Latin American countries be viewed as an unfriendly act toward the Allies.
Compagnon, Olivier, Camille Foulard, Guillemette Martin, and María Inés Tato, eds. La Gran Guerra en América Latina: Una historia conectada. Mexico City: Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos/Institut des Hautes Études de l’Amérique Latine—Centre de Recherche et de Documentation des Ameriques, 2018.
A volume offering interesting case studies of Latin American involvement in the war from different angles, including the media, the economy, diplomatic relations, and the attitude of famous intellectuals.
Correia, Sílvia, and Alexandre Moreli, eds. Tempos e espaços de violência: A Primeira Guerra Mundial, a desconstrução dos limites e o início de uma era. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Autografía/PPGHIS, 2019.
Another proof of the recent wave of important new research on the war, including contributions about the military dimension, diplomacy, cultural and social history, and even environmental and sport history.
Daniel, Ute, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, et al., eds. 1914–1918-Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.
This online reference encyclopedia is an open access publication based on the work of more than a thousand specialists from more than fifty countries, “the largest network of WW1 researchers worldwide.” It offers the most comprehensive study of the war to date, featuring innovative navigation and search functions.
Frank, André Gunder. Latin America: Underdevelopment or Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969.
A fundamental work of dependency theory, which cited the First World War period as proof for independent industrialization and development in Latin America.
Gaillard, Gaston. Amérique latine et Europe occidentale: L’Amérique latine et la guerre, Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1918.
One of the first overviews of Latin American involvement in the war still very much in the style of a propaganda work and aimed at strengthening the French position there after the end of the war.
Garciadiego, Javier Dantan, Hg. El mundo hispanoamericano y la Primera Guerra Mundial. Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2017.
A number of top international experts contributed to this important volume combining chapters on the political and cultural impact of the war.
Kirkpatrick, Frederick Alexander. South America and the War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1918.
Similar to Gaillard 1918, but from a British point of view.
Martin, Percy A. Latin America and the War. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1967.
This book was originally published in 1925 and was the first fairly objective study on the diplomatic involvement of Latin America in the war, based on sources.
Rinke, Stefan. Im Sog der Katastrophe: Lateinamerika und der Erste Weltkrieg. Frankfurt: Campus, 2015.
The first comprehensive study of Latin America during the First World War, combining a global history perspective with multi-archival research and the use of visual sources. An English edition was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017, and a Spanish translation followed in 2019 by Fondo de Cultura Económica, México.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Abortion and Infanticide
- Agricultural Technologies
- Alcohol Use
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Beauty in Latin America
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Bolaño, Roberto
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- California Missions, The
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Central America, The Archaeology of
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Latin America, Crime and Punishment in
- Colonial Latin America, Pilgrimage in
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Indigenous Social and Political Thought
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Cortés, Hernán
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- Education in New Spain
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Franciscans in Colonial Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender and History in the Andes
- Gender during the Period of Latin American Independence
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Independence in Argentina
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Theater and Performance
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Menchú, Rigoberta
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- Natural Disasters in Early Modern Latin America
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Nuns and Convents in Colonial Latin America
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- South American Missions
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Sports in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 20th-Century Mexico, Mass Media and Consumer Culture in
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Women's Property Rights, Asset Ownership, and Wealth in La...
- World War I in Latin America
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas