Decadent Modernity

Civilization and 'Latinidad' in Spanish America, 1880-1920

Michela Coletta

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ISBN: 9781786941312

Publication: September 30, 2018

Series: Liverpool Latin American Studies 17

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How did Latin Americans represent their own countries as modern? By treating modernity as a ubiquitous category in which ideas of progress and decadence are far from being mutually exclusive, this book explores how different groups of intellectuals, between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, drew from European sociological and medical theories to produce a series of cultural representations based on notions of degeneration. Through a comparative analysis of three country case studies − Argentina, Uruguay and Chile − the book investigates four themes that were central to definitions of Latin American modernity at the turn of the century: race and the nation, the search for the autochthonous, education, and aesthetic values. It takes a transnational approach to show how civilisational constructs were adopted and adapted in a postcolonial context where cultural modernism foreshadowed economic modernisation. In doing this, this work sheds new light on the complex discursive negotiations through which the idea of ‘Latin America’ became gradually established in the region.

Michela Coletta is Teaching Fellow in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 1: ‘Raza Latina: Immigration and Decadence at the Fin-de-Siècle’
1.1 ‘Introduction: Race and Nation in the Southern Cone’
1.2 ‘Uruguay: Antieuropeísmo and Tradition’
1.3 ‘Immigration and Civilization in Argentina’
1.4 ‘Raza Latina and Raza Chilena’
1.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER 2: ‘Mythologising the Internal Other: Rural Tradition as Antidote to Modern Civilization’
2.1 ‘Introduction: Literary Criollismos and National Culture’
2.2 ‘Argentina and Uruguay: The Raza Vencida’
2.3 ‘The Gaucho Oriental: Tratado de la Imbecilidad del País’
2.4 ‘Chile: Geografía Humanizada’
2.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER 3: ‘National Regeneration and the Education of the Latin American Elites’
3.1 ‘Introduction: Education vis-à-vis Racial and Cultural Determinism’
3.2 ‘Krausismo and the Escuela Nueva: Two Models of Education
3.3 ‘Intellectual Education versus Practical Education’
3.4 ‘National Language and Education in the River Plate’
3.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER 4: ‘Against the Poetics of Decadence: Latin America and the Aesthetics of Regeneration’
4.1 ‘Introduction: The Sociology of Art in the Southern Cone’
4.2 ‘José Enrique Rodó and Rubén Darío’
4.3 ‘Ariel and Aesthetic Education’
4.4 ‘Arielismo and the Politics of Aesthetics’
4.5 Conclusion
CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

This strikingly original book analyses how intellectuals in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay explored the concept of degeneration as inherent within their emerging modern nations. In this interpretation, the Latinity of Latin America is seen not as the wellspring of civilisation but as a source of over refined decadence. Thus there is a paradox at the heart of their nations whose development was based on widespread immigration from southern Europe: that progress and modernisation were inextricably bound up with Latin decadence and degeneration. Ways out of this dilemma were found by promoting different forms of regeneration. Based on a vast range of primary and secondary sources, theoretically informed, elegantly structured and fluently written, this comparative study offers a fresh and very substantial contribution to our understanding of the processes of modernity and modernisation in Latin America.
John King, University of Warwick
 

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

208 Pages

ISBN: 9781786941312

Publication: September 30, 2018

Series: Liverpool Latin American Studies 17

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