Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Latin American Studies

Reader 1

Gabriela Morales

Reader 2

Martín Vega

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 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.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.