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American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imaginationby Barry A Sanders
Synopses & Reviews
Since September 11, 2001, the extensive literature on the United Statess image abroad, by popular pundits and academics alike, leaves the reader with a false impression that foreigners views of America are normally negative and impervious to change. In fact they are complex, emotional, frequently internally contradictory, and often change quickly.
Barry A. Sanders corrects this misimpression with a rigorous and insightful textual analysis of the roots of peoples views of the United States and what can be done to alter them. According to Sanders, the attitudes a person expresses about the United States consist of two separate components: the persons memory bank of images (informed by American geography, people, philosophy, history, and foreign policy) and a predisposition or bias that influences which images are called forth from memory.Opinion surveys, such as the Pew Global Attitude Survey, only record the spoken result of this twostep process in their tabulation of “favorable” or “unfavorable” comments. They necessarily fail to see the underlying complexity.
Examining the biases or predispositions that guide people in selecting among the myriad stored images to express an opinion on a given day, Sanders analyzes both anti-American and pro-American biases but focuses on the former, explaining which criticisms should be heeded when crafting foreign policy and communicating national objectives to friends and foes alike.
Book News Annotation:
Sanders, an international business lawyer who teaches communications studies at the U. of California, Los Angeles, explores the views of people around the world about America. He examines positive and negative images of the US and how and when they arose in the country's history, including those that occurred from direct observation and experience, pictures shown and stories told by others, and as the result of imagination and popular culture. He then looks at how people select predispositions such as conformity, xenophobia, nationalism, partisanship, resentment, hope, desire, and religious faith, and how they connect to issues of political philosophy and the expression of opinions related to aversions to America's liberal philosophy, its commitment to modernity and change, and its expression of a life that is fuller, freer, and wealthier, but out of reach, as well as what can be done to enhance its image. Distributed by Books International. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Analyzes current and historical images of America, including, for example, the United States as a beacon of light and hope and, conversely, as global hegemon and invading force; Explores the apparent contradiction inherent in how people around the world feel about America, which is often held in a positive and negative light simultaneously by the same individual; Demonstrates that views of the United States are informed by two primary factors: its policies and the preexisting attitudes and experiences of the observer
Untangling the world's love-hate relationship with America
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