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date: 24 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of select trends, ideas, themes, and figures associated with humanism in the Americas, which comprises a diversified set of peoples, cultural traditions, religious orientations, and socio-economic groups. In acknowledging this rich tapestry of human life, the chapter emphasizes the impressive variety of developments in philosophy, the natural sciences, literature, religion, art, social science, and political thought that have contributed to the development of humanism in the Americas. The chapter also features modern usages of humanism that originated in the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century. In this context, humanism is best viewed as a contested site in which its meanings, usages, and rhetorical power reflect a wide range of ideological allegiances that include positive and negative connotations. The complex, layered processes of colonization that are a part of the history of the Americas will also inflect the varied usages and connotations of humanism.

Keywords: anti-positivism, colonialism, democratic values, ethics, human exceptionalism, modernity, postcolonialism, secularism, supernaturalism, white supremacy

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