Crafting a Republic for the World


Crafting a Republic for the World

Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia

Lina del Castillo

402 pages
1 photograph, 14 illustrations, 3 maps, index


June 2018


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June 2018


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eBook (PDF)
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June 2018


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2018


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

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. 

Author Bio

Lina del Castillo is an assistant professor of history and Latin American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 


"In Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia, Lina del Castillo offers a glimpse into the process of transforming Colombia into an Andean-Atlantic nation."—Sharika D. Crawford, Latin American Research Review

"This ambitious and invigorating book will incite discussion for years to come. It sets an important precedent for describing nineteenth-century Latin America as a period of immense political, economic, scientific, and even cultural creativity rather than as a period consumed by caudillismo, corruption, and political fragmentation. . . . The book is tremendously successful."—Fidel J. Tavárez, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“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

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
List of Tables    
Introduction: Postcolonial Inventions of Spanish American Colonial Legacies    
Chapter 1. Gran Colombian Print Culture and the Erasure of the Spanish Enlightenment    
Chapter 2. A Political Economy of Circulation    
Chapter 3. Calculating Equality and the Postcolonial Reproduction of the Colonial State     
Chapter 4. Political Ethnography and the Colonial in the Postcolonial Mind    
Chapter 5. Constitutions and Political Geographies Harness Universal Manhood Suffrage    
Chapter 6. Civic Religion vs. the Catholic Church and the Ending of a Republican Project    
Conclusion: A Continental Postcolonial Colombia Challenges the Latin Race Idea