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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 15, 2007

'Forgotten U.S. Empire' topic of Oct. 22 International Mondays lecture

Michel Gobat, associate professor of history in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), will present "The Forgotten U.S. Empire in Central America, 1855-57" as part of the International Mondays lecture series. The presentation takes place from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

During his lecture, Gobat will discuss a U.S. empire in Central America that history has often overlooked.

"Historians generally believe that the United States did not acquire an overseas empire until its 1898 victory in the Spanish-American-Cuban-Philippine War," Gobat said. "In reality, the first such empire was built in Central America in the 1850s by William Walker and his band of nearly 10,000 U.S., European and Cuban colonists."

The lecture will examine why many Latin Americans and Europeans backed Walker, which Gobat believes will explain a key feature of U.S. expansionism: a presumably democratic appeal for non-U.S. citizens.

"The Walker episode, now a forgotten chapter in U.S. history, raises important new questions about the long and often tragic history of U.S. efforts to export its vision of democracy to other countries," Gobat said.

Gobat has researched U.S., Central American and German archives to learn about U.S. intervention in Central America and the nature of revolutionary processes in this area. His 2005 publication, "Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule," examines the reactions of Nicaraguans to the U.S. military occupation of 1912-33.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information or special accommodations, contact Buffy Quintero, International Programs outreach coordinator, at 319-335-0345 or

UI International Programs, the Iowa City Public Library and the UI-Stanley Support Foundation sponsor Gobat's lecture.

University of Iowa International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Buffy Quintero, International Programs, 319-335-0345,; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Cassandra Lalan.