History Department
History Department

IHS Book Talk: "Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia for the World," by Lina del Castillo, University of Texas at Austin (History Faculty New Book Talk)

Tue, October 9, 2018 | RLP 1.302E

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

The History Faculty New Book Series presents:

Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia for the World
(University of Nebraska Press, June 2018)

A book talk and discussion with
Lina del Castillo
Assistant Professor of History
University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Del Castillo's faculty profile page

In the wake of independence, Spanish American leaders perceived the colonial past as looming over their present. Crafting a Republic for the World examines how the vibrant postcolonial public sphere in Colombia invented narratives of the Spanish “colonial legacy.” Those supposed legacies included a lack of effective geographic knowledge, blockages to a circulatory political economy, existing patterns of land tenure, entrenched inequalities, and ignorance among popular sectors.

At times collaboratively, and at times combatively, Colombian leaders tackled these “colonial” legacies to forge a republic in a hostile world of monarchies and empires. The highly partisan, yet uniformly republican public sphere crafted a vision of a virtuous nation that, unlike the United States, had already abolished slavery and included Indians as citizens. By the mid-nineteenth century, as suffrage expanded to all males over twenty-one, Colombian elites nevertheless tinkered with territorial divisions and devised new constitutions to manage the alleged “colonial legacy” affecting the minds of popular voters. The book explores how the struggle to be at the vanguard of radical republican equality fomented innovative contributions to social sciences, including geography, cartography, political ethnography, constitutional science, history, and the calculation of equity through land reform. Paradoxically, these efforts created a kind of legal pluralism reminiscent of the Spanish monarchy during the “colonial” period.

“This is the rare scholarly work that will make valuable contributions to not just one but three historical fields: the political history of republicanism, the cultural history of nineteenth-century mentalités, and the global history of science.”—James E. Sanders, professor of history at Utah State University
“Lina del Castillo’s work deepens our understanding of nineteenth-century Latin America as part of the vanguard of democracy.”—Rebecca Earle, professor of history at the University of Warwick

“Deeply researched and innovative, Crafting a Republic for the World shows how nineteenth-century Colombians invented the notion of colonial legacies and how this notion was essential to the creation of a new science of republicanism. An inspiring account of how ideas about the past shape politics and policy!”—Marixa Lasso, associate professor of history at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia

“According to del Castillo’s sharp and provocative analysis, Colombia’s oft-cited ‘colonial legacy’ was actually a nineteenth-century construct, one that has far outlived its early republican creators as an explanatory framework for all that is wrong with modern Latin America. Crafting a Republic for the World will spark scholarly debate by forcing us to rethink this legacy.”—Nancy Appelbaum, professor of history at Binghamton University, SUNY

Dr. del Castillo is Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is an active member of the #1-ranked Latin American History program. She received her B.A. in History and Latin American Studies from Cornell University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Miami. Her dissertation won the University of Miami's Barrett Prize for the best Ph.D. dissertation on a Latin American topic in 2008. Her research focuses on the intersections between 19th-century republicanism, scientific thinking, the public sphere, and visual culture.

Read more about Crafting a Republic for the WorldPlease RSVP to cmeador@austin.utexas.edu to reserve your seat and receive a copy of the reading selection to be discussed. This discussion is part of the IHS' History Faculty New Book Talk Series.

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History; LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections; and Center for European Studies

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