Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "United States Foreign Policy"
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The Ends of Modernization: Development, Ideology, and Catastrophe in Nicaragua after the Alliance for ProgressThis dissertation traces the cultural and intellectual history of Nicaragua from the heyday of modernization as ideology and practice in the 1960s, when U.S. planners and politicians identified Nicaragua as a test case for the Alliance for Progress, to the triumph of neoliberalism in the 1990s. The modernization paradigm, implemented through collusion between authoritarian dictatorship and the U.S. development apparatus, began to fragment following the earthquake that destroyed Managua in 1972. The ideas that constituted this paradigm were repurposed by actors in Nicaragua and used to challenge the dominant power of the U.S. government, and also to structure political competition within Nicaragua. Using interviews, new archival material, memoirs, novels, plays, and newspapers in the United States and Nicaragua, I trace the way political actors used ideas about development to make and unmake alliances within Nicaragua, bringing about first the Sandinista Revolution, then the Contra War, and finally the neoliberal government that took power in 1990. I argue that because of both a changing international intellectual climate and resistance on the part of the people of Nicaragua, new ideas about development emphasizing human rights, pluralism, entrepreneurialism, indigenous rights, and sustainable development came to supplant modernization theory. The piecemeal changes in development thinking after modernization corresponded not to a single catastrophic shift, but rather obeyed a catastrophic logic of democratic empire, in which U.S. and Nicaraguan politics were characterized by a dialogue about ideas of development but U.S. power remained the final determining factor. Though the new ideas did not replace modernization's former unifying power, they nonetheless constitute the contemporary paradigm of neoliberalism.