Until the 1890s the spatially-bounded sense of America predomi nated in both domestic politics and foreign-policy making. In particular, America was defined in opposition to Europe. “Europe,” George Washington observed in his farewell address of 1796, “has a set of pri mary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Flence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns” (in Richardson 1905: voi. 1, 214). The unilateral declaration of what became known as the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 went further, establishing that the European powers represented a different system from that of America against which the newly independent states of Central and South America had to be protected. By the later decades of the nineteenth century, however, the increased wealth and power of the United States, along with one of those periodic downturns in the world economy that have afflicted the entire world since the arrival of a true global economy in the nine teenth century and the scramble for colonies by the major European countries as a reaction to this, led to a new emphasis on America s global role (Agnew 1987). The hemispheral identity of the United States and the protection of its sovereignty from European challenge
This chapter will describe the main features of the American geo graphical imagination as inscribed on a world scale (particularly the practical impact of the frontier idea), consider the influence the practice of an expanding American frontier has had on the globalization of the world economy in the twentieth century, examine the crucial impact of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union (1947-89) on American collective self-understanding, and, finally, survey the joint effects of the crisis at the beginning of the twenty-first century in the American geographical imagination and the workings of the contemporary world economy on the United States itself. The approach will involve an examination of the respective roles of economic, geopolitical, and cultural processes, and the particular convergence of these processes as seen in America’s relationship to the world as a whole.