Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Latin American Studies
© 2022 Sarah Safford
This thesis seeks to interrogate the image that the Peace Corps has constructed for itself since 1961, that of an organization which synthesizes the benevolence of the American public into a cohort of volunteers which travels across the Global South to promote the American way of living and building societies, based on a notion of American peace and democracy. Drawing on historical, academic, and ethnographic sources exploring the Peace Corps’ presence in Latin America, I argue that the organization capitalizes on widely held cultural values in the U.S. around development, doing good, and cultural exchange, in order to both obscure the organization’s own participation in imperialist violence in Latin America, and to reframe Latin American popular perceptions of the U.S. government and populace away from an image of a violent and dominating entity, to one of a friendly, helpful neighbor.
Safford, Sarah, "Empire of Peace: Constructing Benevolence and Violence in the Peace Corps in Latin America" (2022). Scripps Senior Theses. 1826.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.