American hedonism closes its eyes to death, and has been
incapable of exorcising the destructive power of the moment
with a wisdom like that of the Epicureans of antiquity.

- Octavio Paz
Death is un-American, and an affront to every citizen's inalienable
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

- Arnold Toynbee
"As long as such self-serving hypocrisy
motivates America's response, Ukraine will
only sink further into needless bloodshed,
and that blood will be on America's head."
In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors,
since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors,
for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal
applies only upwards, not downwards.

― Bertrand Russell
Global Coke
Global Coke
"What those 'racists' are reflexively and rightly reacting
to is the soulless chill as the fire goes out beneath the
melting pot. Those who think America can thrive as a
'cultural mosaic' are worse than fools; they're Canadians."

Global Coke
Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe.
It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster,
in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe
have grown to appalling dimensions.

― Frantz Fanon
What the United States does best is understand itself.
What it does worst is understand others.

- Carlos Fuentes
Poor Mexico, so far from God
and so close to the United States.

- Porfirio Diaz
"Indeed, everything about the American southland was magical
and exotic to the young Canadian musicians, from the sights
and smells to the drawling manner of speech to, especially, the
central role that music played in people’s everyday lives."

America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
- Sigmund Freud
America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.
- Auguste Bartholdi
"This is the tone of the China Century, a subtle
mix of Nazi/Soviet bravado and 'oriental'
cunning -- easily misunderstood, and
heard before, in a real enemy, by the West."

Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
"And for the others who argued for English-only
patriotism, I note that there are more than
57 million Americans (about 20% of the nation)
whose first-language is not English...."

Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
"This is the behavior, and the fate, of paranoid
old-world tyrants like Hitler or Saddam, not liberal new-world democracies like America pretends to be."

America is the only nation in history which
miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to
degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.

- Georges Clemenceau
I found there a country with thirty-two religions and only one sauce.
- Charles–Maurice Talleyrand
A people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle,
and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.

- Edmund Burke
America is the only country ever founded on the printed word.
- Marshall McLuhan
"The removal of racist sports nicknames (and mascots) seems outrageously belated
-- why, exactly, has this civil rights cause
taken so long to gain momentum?"

The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the
United States reactionaries use to scare people.
It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't.

- Mao Tse-tung
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but
they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.

- Red Cloud
In America sex is an obsession,
in other parts of the world it is a fact.

- Marlene Dietrich
I would rather have a nod from an American,
than a snuff-box from an emperor.

- Lord Byron
One day the United States discovered it was an empire.
But it didn’t know what an empire was.
It thought that an empire was merely the biggest of all corporations.

- Roberto Calasso
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather
be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

- Alexis de Tocqueville
"No one, I thought, could watch those scenes, of young children slaughtered en masse, and so many parents grieving, without thinking that this, finally, would tip some kind of balance in the country."
If you are prepared to accept the consequences of your dreams
then you must still regard America today with the same naive
enthusiasm as the generations that discovered the New World.

- Jean Baudrillard
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
- Samuel Johnson
America, thou half brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land.

- Philip Bailey
"What can be more powerful than disinformation in the Information Age?"
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
- Sir Walter Besant
Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by
posterity because he was the last to discover America.

- James Joyce
Now, from America, empty indifferent things
are pouring across, sham things, dummy life.

- Rainer Maria Rilke
If the United States is to recover fortitude and lucidity,
it must recover itself, and to recover itself it must
recover the "others"- the outcasts of the Western world.
- Octavio Paz
The youth of America is their oldest tradition.
It has been going on now for three hundred years.

- Oscar Wilde
"America really is, for most Americans, all things considered, a good place to be, and all they really want is for everyone to enjoy the same privilege and pleasure."
When good Americans die they go to Paris;
when bad Americans die they go to America.

- Oscar Wilde
jobs drug dealer
jobs drug dealer
They're nothing more than traffickers; and as the smart traffickers'll tell you, you don't use the merchandise. They are just inoculating their kids with a tech-drug serum, to immunize them against the very merchandise that put the **** bowling alley in their basement.
jobs drug dealer
America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that
lie before us, the burden of the World's History shall reveal itself.

- Georg Friedrich Hegel
America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room.
Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

- Arnold Toynbee
Americans always try to do the right thing after they've tried everything else.
- Winston Churchill
The thing that impresses me most about Americans
is the way parents obey their children.

- Edward, Duke of Windsor
Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering
what average opinion believes average opinion to be.

- John Maynard Keynes
Europe was created by history.
America was created by philosophy.

- Margaret Thatcher
America is God's crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of
Europe are melting and reforming!... The real American has not yet arrived.
He is only in the crucible, I tell you - he will be the fusion of all races.

- Israel Zangwill
American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those
who have seen America only in their dreams.

- Pico Iyer
America: It's like Britain, only with buttons.
- Ringo Starr
The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.
It has never yet melted.

― D.H. Lawrence
I have two conflicting visions of America.
One is a kind of dream landscape and the other is a kind of black comedy.

― Bono
The American mirror, said the voice, the sad American mirror
of wealth and poverty and constant useless metamorphosis,
the mirror that sails and whose sails are pain.

― Roberto Bolaño

May 22, 2024


Home • • • About

Welcome to the ‘backstage’ of Their America, which we conceive as a kind of meta-theater, designed to stage a rigorous, unfolding global colloquy of the world’s opinions and impressions of America, this most generous and intolerant, acute and obtuse, self-sacrificing and self-serving, praised and vilified of nations. Though the world has never been more illuminated, America remains, in many ways, the elephant in a dark room, whose most well-intentioned actions are being increasingly distrusted and misunderstood as it steps on the toes (or heads) of its co-inhabitants. We aim to show the room to the elephant, and the elephant to the room, in the optimistic belief (but what alternative to optimism?) that this cannot help but help them both.

Hence the flag of Their (or There) America above. America from the other side: america percepta. Not what it is, but what it is for others.

And hence the phenomenological timeline, chronicling the history not of America, but of what it has been to others. A state–of mind–at least as important and influential, especially in this time, as the nation of America itself. For, when esse est percipi, america percepta matters more.

Where is the history of this hugely influential state, whose impact is felt as much in America as anywhere? Where is its Leaves of Grass? You who’ve come here from another place, it is your country, but woefully unarticulated and poorly understood, especially by Americans. Give it voice!


To submit material to the archive, or to help with the project in other ways, please contact your theater’s directorial staff.


Sponsor   This website was partially funded by a Minor Research Grant from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University.


General Editor   Geoff Hamilton, University of Toronto, Canada


Directorial Staff

Outsiders in America: Geoff Hamilton, University of Toronto, Canada

Americas: Prof. Stacey DiLiberto, Valencia College, United States; Prof. Dylan A. Cyr, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Asia: Prof. Nao Nomura, Saitama University, Japan; Nicholas Ferns, Monash University, Australia

Middle East: TBA

Africa: TBA

Europe: Saskia Tielens, TU Dortmund University, Germany


Project Members

Prof. Jason Blake, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Yael Cohen, University of Tel Aviv, Israel

Dr. Jean Coleno, Dawson College, Canada

Dr. Tony Fong, Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada

Prof. Sirène Harb, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Prof. Waleed Hazbun, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Prof. Laura E. B. Key, University of Liverpool, England

Dr. Anya Heise-von der Lippe, Free University of Berlin, Germany

Prof. Osamah Khalil, University of Syracuse, U.S.A.

Prof. Maurice Jr. M. Labelle, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Prof. Jeehyun Lim, Denison University, United States

Prof. Nao Nomura, Saitama University, Japan

Prof. Andrej Stopar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dr. Christa Vogelius, University of Alabama, United States

Prof. Alexa Weik von Mossner, University of Klagenfurt, Austria


Their America would like to thank Ikhlas Hussain, Angela Milano, and Mubina Visram for their contributions through the University of Toronto, Mississauga’s Research Opportunity Program, and Jean Coleno for his critical assistance in shaping this project’s early life.