Ann Stoler’s volume, Haunted by Empire, aids in upending the notion of the United States as exceptionally non-imperial. Responding to Stoler’s consideration of intimacy – its (non)physical forms, spaces, and role in meaning-making (15) – scholars from an array of disciplines incorporate micropolitics and human interaction into the larger scheme of the United States’ imperial project. These “geographies of intimacy” are traced along bodies and land, as notions of mixedness mirror those of borderlands.* Physical and ideological proximity yield the inevitability (and threat) of intermixing blood and culture, producing “interior frontiers” wherein constructions of race and nationhood are complicated by “people who [move] within, between, and outside of imperial boundaries” (57). As Linda Gordon asserts in “Internal Colonialism and Gender,” what constitutes domestic or foreign territory – inside or outside U.S. borders – is an ideology based on Manifest Destiny, claiming free land that naturally belonged within the scope of an unborn nation (429).
"Tu Cuerpo Es Una Frontera I." Celeste De Luna. Accessed March 27, 2018. litebluna.wix.com/artists-website.
In Empire for Liberty, Richard Immerman differentiates imperialism from empire as “a process by which one state employs instruments of power to acquire control over peripheral peoples and territory” (10). In doing so, he extends the traditionally narrow historiographical vision of the United States as imperialist to the colonial, Revolutionary and Antebellum periods, as well as the twenty-first century – demonstrating the nation’s founding and continued growth and consolidation to be an inherently imperial process. Immerman modifies Walter LaFeber’s economically-focused, late-nineteenth-century-specific argument by presenting imperial expansionism as not just an “outward-gazing product of the Industrial Revolution” (as I previously described), but also a rhetorical interplay between allyship and interventionism, liberty and tyranny. Immerman cites Carl Parrini’s “Theories of Imperialism,” asking whether American imperialism originated with “the conscious choices of statesmen … or [was] the inevitable result of the industrial capitalist political economy and social structure” (10).
Immerman presents the (mis)application of American ideology. Liberty denied domestically – rather, an imperial project meant to exclude rather than subsume enslaved Blacks and native peoples – belied American support for and camaraderie with rebelling populations external* to its borders. For instance, John Quincy Adams “sympathized with emerging Latin American nations. But he did not empathize. Adams was too convinced of U.S. exceptionalism to equate its revolution with theirs,” deeming the “ignorant miscegenated populace” unfit for self-governance (87).