encounter with the Americas. Designed to reassert Seville’s and Spain’s past role as “gateway to the Americas,” it was accompanied by the Cervantes initiative, set up on the model of Alliance Française and the Goethe Institut, through which it was hoped that Spain could reassert itself as the center of Hispanic language and culture. It was also an effort to elevate Spain’s position within Europe. There is an inherent contradiction in this effort as many in Latin America argue that a bridge between Spanish-speaking Americas and Europe, and for that matter North America, can only be successfully established if Latin America’s unique culture and society are recognized – can Spain be the center of the Spanish-speaking world?xxv
While the relationships between the three colonial powers of the nineteenth century, Britain, France and Spain, and the countries over which they held dominance has had a real presence and value to many of the participants during the past few decades, one must wonder how important these cultural and institutional structures will be in the years to come. Market-based economic relations with primacy given to efficiency and material gain are demonstrating that previously beneficial preferential relationships are in the end costly affairs which neither partner in the exchange may wish to continue. As English becomes the functional universal language of scientific enquiry, of business and of mass culture, and as the old imperial powers no longer hold any advantage in the development of knowledge, other countries such as the United States, Japan, Canada or, indeed, countries in the developing world may come to be seen as more important contributors to progress and development. Thus, the evaluation of Jean-Louis Roy a decade ago that “the Francophonie has become a work of our time...it is revealed capable of thinking and of acting as a single entity, devoted to vitality and growth”xxvi may be an expression of enthusiasm rather than of cold perspicacity.
In describing the cultural relations throughout the Atlantic Rim area the concept “cultural imperialism” is often used. By this it is meant that one culture that is dominant, either through the compelling nature of its elements or due to the market-size dominated economics of culture goods production, and that this culture crowds out others of, perhaps, smaller nations. Among industrial countries Canada and France have pressed this argument most consistently, but the concept also fits well into the received experience of most ex-colonial societies. It would take more space than is available here to discuss this adequately. While it may strike some as imperialist to argue Domingo Sarmiento’s point about the superiority of European and U.S. science and rationality, a less arrogant position can be put that suggests that the values of personal liberty and participatory democracy, espoused by both Europe and North America, do have positive benefit for citizens on Latin America and Africa. If this point is accepted, then Americanization and Europeanization should properly be seen as modernization, a concept that is far less charged with notions of manipulation and exploitation.
4d.– Since its founding in 1948, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been the central organizational linkage in Atlantic defense of Canada, the United States and Western Europe. Conflict between nations of Africa and of Latin America has been limited to relatively small scale affairs with little or no potential to develop into continental conflagration. North America has been freed of conflict during the twentieth century. Only in Europe has conflict developed that has had intercontinental ramifications. These realities will determine the attention given to the