Cold War Paradise: Settlement, Culture, and Identity-Making among U.S. Americans in Costa Rica, 1945–1980 (Paperback)
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In the wake of the Cold War, a diverse group of U.S. immigrants flocked to Costa Rica, distancing themselves from undesirable U.S. policies at home and abroad. Enchanted with Costa Rica’s natural beauty and lured by the prospect of cheap land, these expatriates—former government employees, businessmen and privileged bourgeois, dissident Quakers and self-seeking hippies, farmers and ecologists—sought a new life in a country that was often dubbed the Switzerland of Central America.
Cold War Paradise is a social and cultural history of this little-studied immigration flow. Based on extensive oral histories of these immigrants and their diverse writings, ranging from women’s club cookbooks to personal letters, Atalia Shragai examines the motivations for immigration, patterns of movement, settlements, and processes of identity-making among U.S. Americans in Costa Rica from post–World War II to the late 1970s. Exploring such diverse themes as gender, nature, and material culture, this study provides a fresh perspective on inter-American relations from the point of view of ordinary U.S. emigrants and settlers. Shragai traces the formation and evolution of a wide range of identifications among U.S. expats and the varied ways they reconstructed and represented their individual and collective histories within the broader scheme of the U.S. presence in Cold War Central America.
About the Author
Atalia Shragai is a lecturer of history at the Kibbutzim College of Education in Tel Aviv, Israel.
“A critical intervention in global studies. Analyzing the migration of U.S. citizens to Costa Rica in search of a deterritorialized American Dream, Atalia Shragai challenges how we think about topics like diaspora, gender, and the natural world. With her creative use of oral history and ethnography, Shragai shows how new sources and methods can change our understandings of the past.”—Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and director of the Halle Institute for Global Research at Emory University
“This is a very important subject if we are to understand an unexplored part of U.S. history from a global perspective: the migration of U.S. citizens to the world outside the American Dream. . . . This is a strong contribution to oral history and to the history of identity from an ethnographic perspective.”—David Díaz Arias, professor of history at the Universidad de Costa Rica
“A fascinating look at U.S. citizens living in Costa Rica during the Cold War. . . . Packed with interesting details and grounded in timely theoretical perspectives, this carefully researched book makes a valuable contribution to the growing scholarship on lifestyle migration specifically and global migration more generally.”—Sheila Croucher, professor of global and intercultural studies at Miami University