History ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation examines the growth of US cultural influence in Andean and Caribbean Colombia during World War II and the first half the Cold War (1930s-1960s). Exploring Colombian-US collaboration in educational and cultural arenas, the study articulates a mid-century shift in Colombian cultural orientation away from Europe and toward the US. Analyzing the cultural complexities of Colombian-US relations during those decades, it demonstrates why this shift began and how it was sustained. While the study credits US cultural diplomacy with encouraging the shift, it emphasizes the role of Colombians in building the new cultural infrastructure that facilitated it. Intent on moving the nation toward capitalist modernity and minimizing the threat of social and political revolution, the Colombian national government and the Colombian Catholic Church aggressively enlisted US resources toward educational and cultural reforms. In doing so, they followed the lead of the nations emerging middle classes, newly expanding professional groups, and modernist segments within the national elite as they engaged US cultural models to clear their own paths toward modernity. At the intersection of cultural and diplomatic history, this study presents intimate views of transnational cultures and communities as they developed around schools, cultural centers and mass media programs. Using the Colombian case, it demonstrates how new venues for collaboration were redefining Latin American-US cultural relations during the mid-twentieth century. In contrast to studies that frame inter-American encounters as manifestations of empire, this dissertation demonstrates the frequently overlooked yet crucial role of common interests in building cultural relations across national borders.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Bieber, Judy

Second Committee Member

Appelbaum, Nancy P.

Third Committee Member

Cahill, Cathleen D.



Document Type