Britain enjoyed close financial links with Latin America in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (thanks to which the major libraries are well stocked: the Public Records Office is a rich source for research on that period), and produced a distinguished list of English and Scottish travel writers in the nineteenth century and even earlier. Yet by the mid-twentieth century the UK had precious little academic expertise on the region, especially when compared with the Middle East and the former colonies. A handful of historians, ill-recognized in the profession as a whole, wrote general books on the region, and even social anthropology had scarcely woken up to its existence.

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