"Discover the Other Americas!"

19 August 2016

Area Studies | Cultural Studies | History

Image (c) Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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It’s been a dramatic two weeks of triumph, teamwork and towering feats of sporting achievement during the 31st Olympic Games, and after years of planning, the eyes of the world were firmly on Rio de Janeiro. South America is a popular tourist destination and Brazil will have enjoyed a boost this summer, but the appeal of South America for tourists and travellers is nothing new, as demonstrated by the multitude of travel guides, brochures and leaflets for the region found in the recently published History of Mass Tourism.

Image (c) Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Click on the image to view the whole document, available open access for 30 days.

 

Image (c) Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Click on the image to view the whole document, available open access for 30 days.

 

One that particularly caught my eye is a guidebook published in 1958 by the Department of Defence for its servicemen, full of advice for visiting South America as a civilian whilst upholding the reputation of the armed forces and the United States (something that may have come in handy for one group of US Olympians this week). The guide is full of praise for the ‘lands south of the border’ saying ‘the area offers many of the world’s greatest sights…but you will find friendly association with the local people is an even greater pleasure!’

 

Image (c) Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Click on the image to view the whole document, available open access for 30 days.

The guide effusively compliments the people and cultures of the South American countries, and in further efforts in soft diplomacy reminds US travellers that ‘winning friends for ourselves and our country is our responsibility as members of the United States Armed Forces’. In a delicate move, the guide reminds its readers that people south of the border ‘are Americans too’, ‘often with longer claims to the title than we have’ and asks its servicemen to focus on the similarities that unite North and South Americans over the differences. With a whole section entitled ‘As Others See Us’, it’s clear the US was keen to repair and improve the reputation of Americans overseas and strengthen political, economic and cultural ties between North and South American countries. 

Image (c) Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Click on the image to view the whole document, available open access for 30 days.

But international relations aside, A Pocket Guide: South of the Border is full of practical and light-hearted advice for travelling and negotiating cultural differences in Brazil and the rest of South America. In one sensible lesson in cross-cultural etiquette, the guide recommends “where shorts are appropriate, the longer Bermuda-type is preferable – you don’t want to look as if you had just lost your trousers”! Maybe future Olympic teams should take a look at a few of these guidebooks before travelling, in order to avoid similarly embarrassing incidents…

 

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About the Author

Ellie Davey Corrigan

I am a Development Editor at Adam Matthew, having joined the team in 2015. My academic background lies in Classical History and Languages but as an editor in academic publishing I have worked across a variety of subjects from Business, Marketing and Gender Studies to International Relations. I am enjoying getting back to my historical roots working on a wide range of new projects at Adam Matthew.

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