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Accidental Historian: An Interview with Arnold J. Bauer

  • Charles Walker (a1)


Appreciated among Latin Americanists in the United States and highly regarded in Chile, Arnold (“Arnie”) Bauer taught history at the University of California at Davis from 1970 to 2005, and was director of the University of California's Education Abroad Program in Santiago, Chile, for five years between 1994 and 2005. Well-known for his engaging writing style, Bauer reflects broad interests in his publications: agrarian history (Chilean Rural Society: From the Spanish Conquest to 1930 [1975]), the Catholic Church and society (as editor, La iglesia en la economía de América Latina, siglos XIX-XIX [1986]), and material culture (Goods, Power, History: Latin America's Material Culture [2001]). He has also written an academic mystery regarding a sixteenth-century Mexican codex, The Search for the Codex Cardona (2009). His coming-of-age memoir (Time's Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas [2012]) describes his childhood and was recently named one of the top five books of 2012 by The Atlantic. He has also written some 50 articles and book chapters and more than 60 book reviews.



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This interview was conducted by Charles Walker, Professor of History and director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at the University of California at Davis, on December 10, 2011. He has enjoyed weekly coffees (and the occasional tinto) with Arnie since 1992. Sara Islas helped with the transcription. Bauer and Walker would like to acknowledge the support of The Americas in helping to bring this interview to fruition.

1. Tinsman, Heidi, “Arnold Bauer and Chile: A Love Story,” review of Arnold J. Bauer’s Chile y algo más: Estudios de historia latinoamericana, A Contracorriente 5:2 (2008), pp. 341345.

2. The works of Edward FitzGcrald (“Gerald”) Brenan (1894–1987) include The Spanish Labyrinth (1943) and The Literature of the Spanish People (1951).

3. On Leonov and Che, see Anderson, Jon Lee, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (New York: Grove Press, 1997), pp. 173174 and following.

4. Bauer, Arnold, Chilean Rural Society from the Spanish Conquest to 1930 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1975); same tide published in Spanish as La sociedad rural chilena desde la conquista española hasta nuestros días (Santiago: Ed. Andrés Bello, 1994).

5. Bauer, Arnold, “Sociedad y política rural chilenas en un enfoque comparativo,Proposiciones 19 (1990), pp. 254262.

6. Several of these essays were published in Bauer’s, La iglesia en la economía de America Latina: siglos XVI al XIX. (Mexico: INAH, 1986).

7. Published in translation as Somos lo que compramos (Mexico: Taurus, 2002).

8. Bauer, Arnold, “La cultura material,” in Para una historia de America. 1. Las Estructuras, Carmagnani, Marcello, ed. (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura, 1990), pp. 404497

9. Wilson, Edmund, To the Finland Station (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1940).

10. Bauer, Arnold, Chile y algo más. Estudios de historia latinoamericana (Santiago: Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Muscos, 2004).

11. Bauer, Arnold, The Search for the Codex Cardona (Durham, N.C.: Duke University, Press, 2010).

12. Bauer, Arnold, Time’s Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2012).

13. One of them was Ward Stavig (1948–2006), who worked with Bauer as an undergraduate and graduate student. Bauer published a loving obituary in Hispanic American Historical Review 87:1 (2007), pp. 151–152.

14. The Dos Patos winery produces up to 300 bottles or 25 cases a year. According to the label, the grapes are “picked by voluntary workers and crushed and pressed in a spirit of gai camaraderie.”

15. Neruda, Pablo, “Fin de fiesta,” in Selected Poems, Nathaniel Tarn, ed. (New York: Dell Publishing, 1970), pp. 422425.

Accidental Historian: An Interview with Arnold J. Bauer

  • Charles Walker (a1)


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