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Global Perspectives on the United StatesPro-Americanism, Anti-Americanism, and the Discourses Between$
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Virginia R. Domínguez and Jane C. Desmond

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040832

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040832.001.0001

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“Making Pals in Panama”

“Making Pals in Panama”

U.S.–Latin American Relations and the Trope of the Good Neighbor in Coca-Cola Advertising during the 1940s

(p.265) Chapter 11 “Making Pals in Panama”
Global Perspectives on the United States

Amy Spellacy

University of Illinois Press

This essay examines a series of Coca Cola advertisements that offer insight into notions of neighborhood and community in the U.S. along with U.S. foreign policy in the 1940s. It focuses on the relationship between the U.S. Good Neighbor policy and a 1944 ad set in Panama. The author argues that a significant relationship existed between U.S. imperialism at the time and U.S. domestic racial anxieties. These ads promoted an association between Coca Cola and an “American way of life,” but they also reflected racially limited, exclusionary ideas of community that operated domestically and were exported to other parts of the world through U.S. imperial practices. Invoking a broad understanding of imperialism that stresses economic, political, cultural, and ideological aspects of imperialism, the author draws on the work of Edward Said, Michael Doyle, and Amy Kaplan. The essay includes a detailed analysis of the 1944 Coca Cola ad set in Panama, but concludes by looking at a series of post-WWII ads and their implications. Spellacy notes that the end of WWII signaled the end of the period of U.S. enthusiasm for Latin America, but the historical markers of enthusiasm and lack of interest matter in multiple ways. One example is the early Civil Rights movement in the U.S. The soda fountain might often have been associated with innocence and nostalgia for small-town life in the U.S., but this was, after all, the same era marked by early U.S. Civil Rights battles.

Keywords:   Coca Cola, Panama, the U.S. Good Neighbor Policy, U.S. imperialism, U.S. racial anxieties, the post-World War II era, nostalgia, innocence, an “American way of life”, Latin America

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