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The Return of the Native: Indians and Myth-Making in Spanish America, 1810-1930by Rebecca Earle
Synopses & Reviews
Why does Argentina’s national anthem describe its citizens as sons of the Inca? Why did patriots in nineteenth-century Chile name a battleship after the Aztec emperor Montezuma? Answers to both questions lie in the tangled knot of ideas that constituted the creole imagination in nineteenth-century Spanish America. Rebecca Earle examines the place of preconquest peoples such as the Aztecs and the Incas within the sense of identity—both personal and national—expressed by Spanish American elites in the first century after independence, a time of intense focus on nation-building.
Starting with the anti-Spanish wars of independence in the early nineteenth century, Earle charts the changing importance elite nationalists ascribed to the pre-Columbian past through an analysis of a wide range of sources, including historical writings, poems and novels, postage stamps, constitutions, and public sculpture. This eclectic archive illuminates the nationalist vision of creole elites throughout Spanish America, who in different ways sought to construct meaningful national myths and histories. Traces of these efforts are scattered across nineteenth-century culture; Earle maps the significance of those traces. She also underlines the similarities in the development of nineteenth-century elite nationalism across Spanish America. By offering a comparative study focused on Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador, The Return of the Native illustrates both the common features of elite nation-building and some of the significant variations. The book ends with a consideration of the pro-indigenous indigenista movements that developed in various parts of Spanish America in the early twentieth century.
Study of national identities and memory in 19th-century Spanish America through examination of the ways in which Indians were represented during the century.
The Return of the Native offers a look at the role of preconquest peoples such as the Aztecs and the Incas in the imagination of Spanish American elites in the first century after independence.
About the Author
“An ambitious and important contribution to Latin American cultural and intellectual history, The Return of the Native is unique in its broad, comparative focus on nationalism in Spanish America and the uses of the Amerindian past. Moreover, it is refreshing in its attention to nineteenth-century historiography and the relation between that historiography and the process of state-building.”—Raymond B. Craib, author of Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes
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History and Social Science » Native American » General Native American Studies