Historia de Colombia

Friday, February 03, 2006

Historia de Colombia

2

The Construction of Identities: Science, Space, Aesthetics

Imagine a world where identity has been accomplished, where things, individuals, and communities have come to rest within themselves: wouldn’t it be the worst of nightmares? (Moreiras 1994, p. 206).


Identities are about questions of the use of the resources of history, language and culture in dynamic processes – becoming rather than being (Hall 1996, p. 4). Representation and the narrativisation of the self/collective are fundamental parts of the construction of identities which can be modelled, at least partially within the imaginary and the symbolic spheres; ‘within a fantasmatic field’ (Hall, p. 4). This, however, does not undermine its discursive, material or political effectivity. To understand identity as discursively situated means it should be regarded as the product of specific historical and institutional sites within specific discursive formations and practices, using specific enunciative strategies. Identity emerges within the play of specific modalities of power, and is thus the product of difference and exclusion. Hence, in Latin America, the construction of the identity of the Creole elites grew from a differentiation from the European while creating internal others: blacks, mestizos and Indians. ‘National identities’ were built likewise: the construction of a unique ‘nature’, for instance, contributed to the differentiation of the American nations from Europe (as well as from Asia and Africa).

The concept of a shameful construction of Creole identities is useful to explore the tensions and contradictions embedded therein. Shame links the Creole creation of identities with the narratives (of ‘progress’ and ‘civilisation’) and the symbolic economies of modernity. Hence, the concept of shame explored here is related both to the microphysics of power and to Creole self-fashioning. The former is articulated by a number of infolding forces (and resistances) which work on the body and entail authority: advice, techniques, habits of thought and emotion, routines and norms of being human. These infoldings are partially stabilised to the extent that the subject can imagine itself as the subject of a biography, using some ‘arts of memory’ to render this biography stable and employing certain vocabularies and explanations to make it intelligible to itself (Rose 1996, p. 143). These memories are organised through certain practices like biographical writing and storytelling and supported by material and visual artefacts such as albums, letters, photographs and so forth. The self is thus narrated but also spatialised and rendered intelligible in terms of routines, habits and techniques within specific domains of action and value (Rose, p. 143). The writing of historical novels – the fictional recreation of the past – is thus a self-conscious and performative exercise in self-fashioning. It is articulated by the practice of writing and responds not only to the purely ideological, but is also closely linked with the material and the corporeal. These dynamics of the creation of identities can be explored by focusing on the projects of ‘governmentality’ that arose in the post-revolutionary period and the way they constructed, conditioned and regulated different subject-positions. In this respect the construction of a social body to fit the narratives of the nation can be explored as an effect ‘not of consensus [shared bourgeois values, democratic participation and so forth] but of the materiality of power operating on the very bodies of individuals’ (Foucault 1980, p. 55). The social body can be seen as constituted through three domains: the discursive practices which articulate objects within the domain of knowledge; governmental practices which problematise objects in relation to power; and the ethical practices or ‘techniques of the self’ which order the formation of the self as a desiring but self-referencing subject (Dean 1994).

In the case of the formation of Creole identities, its modern origin shows that the strategy employed in its creation is based on difference. Well before independence, there began a process of differentiation between Creoles and Old World Spaniards, coupled with a construction of the American continent as a ‘unique’, ‘distinct’ and ‘singular’ space, which gave birth, even before independence, to a proto-nationalism entwined with scientific discourses. Parallel to these differentiations, power was being articulated through the installation of an economy of signs in which the signifiers of modernity gained pre-eminence as opposed to its others, the signifiers of a supposed backwardness and savagery.

Difference and the Construction of Creole Identities

No somos ni indios ni europeos, sino una especie media entre los legítimos propietarios del país y los usurpadores españoles; en suma, siendo nosotros americanos por nacimiento y nuestros derechos los de Europa, tenemos que disputar éstos a los del país y que mantenernos en él contra la invasión de los invasores; así nos hallamos en el caso mas extraordinario y complicado (Bolívar 1964, p. 46).

[We are neither Indians nor Europeans, but rather an intermediate species between the legitimate owners of the country and the Spanish usurpers; in sum, being Americans by birth and our rights those of Europe, we have to dispute these to those [Spaniards] in the country and remain in it against the invasion of the invaders; hence we find ourselves in the most extraordinary and complicated situation].

Creole identity-creation and a sense of belonging to a society with roots in America could arguably be traced back to the conquistadors. During the sixteenth century, conflicts between descendants of the conquistadors and new settlers emerged, as all were seeking a place in the new nobility of service once the conquest period was over. By the middle of the seventeenth century, the sons of conquerors viewed the holding of royal office and ecclesiastical benefices as an inalienable right conferred by their ties with the land. During the three centuries of colonial rule, the conquerors and their descendants protested and rebelled against royal dispositions that could harm their interests. Such was the case of conquistador Alvaro de Oyón in the province of Popayán, Colombia, in 1553, self-declared general de la libertad en lucha (Ocampo 1984, p. 67) [General of liberty in struggle]. These rebellions were not infrequent throughout the continent and fed into a Creole patriotism characterised by the desire to differentiate the Creole from the peninsular-born Spaniards and the history of the New World from that of Europe (Brading 1998, p. 18).

The Spanish crown, on the other hand, regarded conquistadors and Creoles as very similar in temperament and no more reliable than the Indians. Nevertheless there ‘emerged a workable compromise between what the central authorities ideally wanted and what local conditions and pressures would realistically tolerate’ (Leddy Phelan 1978, p. xviii). In this way, the entire population of the American colonies soon came to acquire in the minds of many peninsular Spaniards a negative character. The traveller-scientist Alexander von Humboldt commented on this very issue: ‘the lowest, the least educated and uncultivated European believes himself superior to the white born in the New World’ (1941, p. 117).

When the Bourbon reforms of the eighteenth century attempted to centralise power, the colonies had already achieved an incipient degree of political and economic self-sufficiency (Ocampo, pp. 68-69; González 1983, pp. 129-132). This move on the part of the Spanish crown was often referred to as a ‘second conquest’ seeking to stimulate dependency, and resulted in riots all over Spanish America, most notably the Tupac Amaru Rebellion in Peru (1780-83) and the Comunero revolt in Nueva Granada (1781). The reforms were also widely criticised by the Creole elite (Lynch 1987, p. 26). By this time there was a rupture in the sense of Spanishness as the Creole had lost a sense of identity with his ‘mother country’ as Bourbons were increasingly identified as an external enemy (Palacios 1980, p. 1666). By the time of independence, it was clear that Creoles only sought control their own affairs and political authority (Pagden, p. 65). Creole identity, based on pride in creating an identity apart from the Old World Spaniard, was in part a necessary response to persistent hostility and contempt from the metropolitan authorities. Francisco Montalvo, the next-to-last Viceroy of Nueva Granada (1816-1818), put it this way: ‘[…] juzgo ser la principal [causa] […] esa odiosa distinción entre americanos y europeos, que viene casi con la conquista de estos países, y se sostiene contra lo que piden los intereses del soberano’ (quoted in Ocampo 1984, p. 70). [I judge the main [cause] to be […] that odious distinction between Americans and Europeans that comes almost with the conquest of these countries and is sustained against what the interests of the sovereign require].

The Production of Internal Others

No son los pobres indios los que promueven [las revueltas], son los ESPAÑOLES CRIOLLOS, que no pelean por sacudir un yugo [...] sino por arrebatar un mando que envidian a la metrópoli’ (Jovellanos 1811, quoted in Ocampo p. 72, emphasis in the original).

[It is not the poor Indians who promote [the revolts] it is the SPANISH CREOLES who do not fight to throw off the yoke […] but rather to seize from the metropolis an authority they envy].
As the Indian population declined and the Creoles slowly began to diversify their activities, a distinction between living Indians and those of the past began to develop. Like the old conquistadors, the ‘old Indian’ became mythologised. For the Spaniards, the image of a ‘heroic’ Indian past was crucial to their military imagery (and later to the Creole version of history) as heroic colonisers, civilised and Catholic (Pagden 1994, p. 66). The degree of mythologisation and the role played by the mythical Indians in the Creoles’ consciousness of that history differs from one country to another. While the Indian was employed by the elite as a means to construct an ‘American’ history (Brading 1998, p. 18), elsewhere, ‘when Creoles sought to define their new condition in proclamations and written constitutions, they were rarely intent on locating an historic ‘nation’ to legitimate projects for independent states. Indeed, in many regions, Creoles had no myths of a glorious past to which to turn’ (McFarlane 1998, p. 331).

The Tupac Amaru uprising of 1780-83 made Creoles more apprehensive about the possibilities of awakening old loyalties and ancient ambitions among the Indians (Pagden pp. 66-67). The idea that Indians were noble barbarians as well as the idea that Indian blood might confer some degree of nobility upon a plebeian Spaniard did not last long. Although some of Cortés’ and Pizarro’s men had been proud to marry into the ancient Indian aristocracy, they were not keen to associate themselves with their successors. Intermarriage and concubinage were widespread in the early days of the conquest and colonisation as many cronistas observed. In Santa Marta, in the Colombian Caribbean, Fernández de Lugo stated that colonists: ‘[vivían] amancebados […] Otros conociendo indias carnalmente sin estar bautizadas, y éstos son muchos’ (in Friede 1955-60, III, p. 282) [lived in free unions [...] Others carnally knew unbaptised Indian women, and these were many]. Intermarriage was then encouraged by the crown since it was deemed preferable to concubinage and the baptism of the Indians was urged in order to legitimate these unions, as the visitador Juan de Santacruz declared to an expedition travelling inland from Cartagena in 1539: ‘[que] ningún cristiano se eche con India que no sea cristiana’ [that no Christian should lie down with an Indian woman who is not a Christian] (in Friede 1955-60, V, p. 65). These relationships do not mean that the Spaniards had fewer racial prejudices than other colonists. The reduced number of white women in the colonies and the occasional willingness of the natives, among other causes, contributed to this apparent ‘tolerance’ (Melo 1996, pp. 249-251). [1]

The ideal of the noble Indian and the belief that noble Indian blood might confer noble status was revived in the eighteenth century. Creoles were thought of as half-breeds (mestizos), a term that suggested racial inferiority, but that could not be applied to those who had married into the Indian nobility. Yet too close an association would be an uncomfortably close link with living Indians. To avoid such inconvenience, a text like Antonio de Ahumada’s Representación político-legal (1725)[2] pointed out that after so many generations, the Indian strain in those whose ancestors had mixed their blood with ‘the royal families of the nation’ was so weak by then that they had all become ‘pure’ Spaniards.

The Creoles wanted to assume a direct link through kin with an ancient Indian past that would provide them with an independent historical identity, at the same time they needed to avoid, in a society so obsessed with racial purity, any suggestion that this association might have contaminated their blood. To further complicate things, these societies were multiracial since the sixteenth century due to the introduction of Africans and their interbreeding with both whites and Indians. This produced a diversity of racial mixtures that led to an obsessive classification of racial variations, as shown in the casta paintings, which depicted racial combinations.[3] In law, however, the social hierarchy was divided into Spaniards, Creoles (born in America and claiming European or white ancestry), castas (mestizos, mulattos, zambos and others), Indians, who were kept as isolated as possible in order to keep them ‘docile’ (with Christianisation playing a main role in this project) and blacks, with practically no place in the social map.[4] Complex intersections of race and gender were also found in colonial society, since a social organisation based on lineage or kinship necessarily involves the two terms; these ‘technologies’ of race and gender maintained the hegemony of a group over the others by employing classificatory and valuative discourses, which contributed to develop an ‘elaborate social lexicon of privilege and worth’ during the colony and after (Kuznesof 1995, pp. 160,168).

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the Indian was included in proto-nationalist discourse as a legitimising figure – the original inhabitant of the land degraded by Spanish colonialism. In other discourses, connected to the Spanish notion of ‘purity of blood’ however, it was assumed that the Indians’ ‘idleness and viciousness’ was due to innate disposition or environmental determinism. Neo-Grenadine scientist Pedro Fermín de Vargas, for instance, mentioned their ‘pereza, estupidez e indiferencia frente a los esfuerzos normales [que] nos hace pensar que proceden de una raza que se deteriora proporcionalmente a la distancia de sus orígenes’ (1953, p. 83) [laziness, stupidity and the insensibility that they show to normal efforts [which] makes one think that they come from a race that degenerates in proportion to the distance from its origins].

The notion of an innate generalised inferiority of America is central to the deepening of the sense of difference from Europe and signalled the emergence of science as a discursive tool that would fashion both ‘America’ as natural space, and the letrado as a patriot-scientist The idea that America was inferior appears for instance in the works of Buffon (George Louis Leclerc). In the 1750s the French naturalist attempted to explain the scarce population of America, its arrested social development (in a ‘state of nature’), and the scarcity and small size of its quadrupeds by resorting to the physical environment of the continent. In Buffon’s argument, America had just emerged from the waters and the humid miasmas had caused all organic life to degenerate; humidity had feminised the natives and shrunk the animals. A more radical version of Buffon’s thesis was articulated in the Encyclopaedist Corneille de Pauw’s Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains (1768), based on a pessimistic natural determinism. In the same vein were the writings of the Abbé Guillaume-Thomas de Raynal and the Scottish historian William Robertson. Creoles, as Raynal declared, were sunk in ‘barbarous luxury, pleasures of a shameful kind, a stupid superstition, and romantic intrigues’ (1798, VII, p. 189). Robertson stated likewise that, as a consequence of climate and repressive government, ‘the vigour of [the Creole’s] mind is so entirely broken, that a great part of them waste life in luxurious indulgences’ (1825, VII, pp. 340, 342). As a result of their many weaknesses, Creoles were unfit to govern themselves. The discovery of this ‘natural order’ (the core of the ‘classical’ episteme) was instrumental in the production of an inferior America, justifying colonialism and racism. In the nineteenth century this position shifted into a modern scientific form and articulated the human sciences and institutions such as asylums, hospitals, prisons, (Foucault 1965, 1970, 1973, 1977), key in the construction of modern Latin American societies.

The late eighteenth-century Creole intelligentsia avidly read these authors, (although forbidden by the Inquisition, Benítez-Rojo 1993, p. 186) and articulated a similar discourse to respond to them, and to the feeling of being denigrated by the metropolis (Saldaña 1995, p. 32) – what Antonello Gerbi (1993) has called ‘the dispute of the New World’. In Colombia, Creole scientist (and future vice-president of Gran Colombia) Francisco Antonio Zea answered De Pauw directly: [5]

[De Pauw] quiere ver que la especie humana haya degenerado en la América […] no quiere encontrar entre nosotros quien pueda componer un libro […] Pero dejemos este malediciente filósofo. Diga lo que quisiese, tenemos demasiadas pruebas de que podemos ser sabios. No, no ha degenerado en este suelo la especie humana; antes ha producido individuos que la honran. Llegará un día en que las ciencias fijen aquí su habitación (1792, n.p).

[De Pauw] sees the degeneration of the human species in America [...] he does not want to find among us someone capable of writing a book [...] But let us leave this insulting philosopher. Say what he pleases, we have proof enough that we can be sages. No, the human species has not degenerated in this land; instead, it has produced individuals who honour it. The day will come when sciences will fix here their abode].
While science had a main role in the construction of Creole elite subjectivities, aesthetics and good manners complemented the production of Creole modern forms of sociability (Arboleda 1993, p. 338). Creole forms of sociability included ‘patriotic societies’ and tertulias (literary salons), where individuals would associate to discuss certain topics (Guerra 1992). The most renowned of these were the Sociedad Eutropélica, directed by Manuel del Socorro Rodríguez, founder of the Papel periódico, the Círculo Literario and the Tertulia del Buen Gusto, founded by Manuela Santamaría, who loved both ‘literature and natural sciences’ (Arboleda, p. 342). The coexistence of natural sciences, economy and bellas artes (Obregón 1990-91, pp. 101-102) was directed towards the creation of a sociocultural consensus on scientific, philosophical and economical issues within the ‘interpretative community’ (Silva 2002) aimed at modernising society. The natural sciences were particularly suited to fit the patriotic projects of the elite, as they simultaneously embodied instrumental knowledge, an opportunity to serve the fatherland and the possibility of self-improvement:

Observar el cielo por observarlo, sería una ocupación honesta, pero no pasaría de ser una curiosidad estéril que llenase los momentos del hombre ocioso y acomodado. Este observador sería inútil, y la Patria lo miraría como un consumidor de quien no esperaba nada. Nosotros no queremos representar este papel en la sociedad: queremos que nuestros trabajos astronómicos mejoren nuestra geografía, nuestros caminos y nuestro comercio (Caldas 1966, pp. 401-404).

[To observe the sky just for the sake of it would be an honest occupation, but it would be nothing more than sterile curiosity which would fill the moments of the idle and wealthy man. This observer would be useless and the Fatherland would look at him as a consumer of whom nothing was expected. We do not want to represent this role in society: we want our astronomical works to improve our geography, our roads and our commerce].

In these discourses, the sense of patriotism is articulated more around notions of ‘land’ or ‘nature’ than ‘race’, as the elite overlooked in general the Indian heritage to insist rather on the equality of white Creoles and Spaniards. As the Enlightenment-inspired Camilo Torres, a leader of the 1810 revolution put it in his Memorial de Agravios (1809):

Las Américas […] no están compuestas de extranjeros a la nación española. Somos hijos, somos descendientes de los que han derramado su sangre por adquirir estos nuevos dominios a la Corona de España [...] Los naturales conquistados y sujetos hoy al dominio español, son muy pocos o son nada, en comparación de los hijos de europeos […] Tan españoles somos, como los descendientes de Don Pelayo, y tan acreedores por esta razón, a las distinciones, privilegios y prerrogativas del resto de la nación (1960, pp. 90-91).

[The Americas […] are not composed of foreigners to the Spanish nation. We are sons; we are descendents of those who had shed their blood to acquire these new dominions for the Spanish crown […] The conquered and subjected natives are little or none compared to the sons of Europeans […] We are as Spanish as the descendents of Don Pelayo and as deserving, for this reason, of the distinctions, privileges and prerogatives of the rest of the Nation].

Here Torres interestingly mentions ‘nation’ and applies it exclusively to Creoles and peninsular Spaniards. The very term ‘Creole’ then seems to mark an intellectual difference with the European; it underscores a feeling of Americanness and makes an apology for the autochthonous while simultaneously claiming European origins and thus superiority in comparison with Indians, blacks and mestizos. In this view, natural resources and the very landscape are praised, but the previous history of the territory or its inhabitants is simply left aside (Arrom 1953, pp. 266-269). In contrast, royalist discourse constructed the Indian as a ‘loyalist’ to Spain, thus steering clear both of the climatic determinism of the European scientists and the Creole ‘greed and ambition-oriented’ revolution. In an ambivalent rhetoric, the ‘simple-minded’ Indian came to represent the image of a loyal America: childlike and savage at the same time (Earle 2001, pp. 137-138; 141).

The topic of Indian heritage was to enter letrado discourse in the liberal second half of the nineteenth century via the works of the Comisión Corográfica, which played a major role in depicting national racial types and diverse regions (Restrepo 1999) and through Acosta’s and de Plaza’s historiographies and Ezequiel Uricoechea’s Memoria sobre las antigüedades Neo-Granadinas (1854) and Indian language grammars (1871, 1877). Liborio Zerda’s search for El Dorado, fruit of the positivistic enthusiasm of the last quarter of the century, revived interest in the so-called ‘Indian antiquities’ (1873, pp. 180-186; 1883), a term suggesting a now redundant Indian history (Obregón, p. 112). There were less positive versions of the pre-Hispanic past in Groot’s historiography, in Vicente Restrepo’s Los chibchas antes de la conquista española (1895) and in Ernesto Restrepo Tirado’s Estudio sobre los aborígenes de Colombia (1892) (Melo 1988, pp. 621; 639-640). Similarly, for historian Joaquín Posada Gutiérrez, for instance, the conquest had done the Indians a service (1929, p. 99).

The reasons for the Neo-grenadine elite avoiding the use of the Indian past in proto-nationalistic discourses might be related as well to events such as the comunero uprising of 1781 in Nueva Granada, which gives an idea of the place of the Indian in the Creole imagination. On that occasion, Creoles regarded the plight of the Indians as a metaphor for their own condition under colonial rule, thus connecting Indians to other popular groups. The comuneros were a group of merchants, peasants and municipal employees whose main objective was the abolition of taxes for important merchandise. They were not revolutionaries; their motto was traditional: ‘long live the king and death to bad government’ (Lynch, p. 32). The Indians joined the group inspired by the example of Tupac Amaru in Peru. The 35-point document known as Capitulaciones de Zipaquirá (1781), demanded administrative reforms, opportunities for the Creoles and a better treatment for the Indians and mulattoes in the following terms:

Que hallándose en el estado más deplorable la miseria de todos los indios, que si como la escribo la veo y conozco, la palpase V.A., creeré que, mirándolos con la debida caridad, con conocimiento que pocos anacoretas tendrán más estrechez en su vestuario, y comida, porque sus limitadas luces y tenues facultades de ningún modo alcanzan a satisfacer el crecido tributo que se les exige con tanto apremio, así a éstos como los mulatos requintados, sacándoles los Corregidores los tributos con tanto rigor, que no es creíble, a lo que concurren sus Curas por el interés de sus asignados extipendios; que, atenta la expresada miseria, solo quede la contribución total y anual de cuatro pesos, los indios; y los requintados, de dos pesos , y que los Curas no les hayan de llevar plata por los derechos, por sus obvenciones de oleos, entierros y casamientos, ni precisarlos con el nombramiento de alférez para sus fiestas, pues éstas, en caso que no haya devoto que las pida, las costeen las Cofradias […] (Berbeo 1781, my emphasis).

[That finding themselves in the most deplorable state of misery of all the Indians, that as I write, see and know it, Your Highness could see it, I will believe that, looking at them with due charity, with the knowledge that few hermits have more scarcity in their clothing and food because their limited understanding and slight faculties are in no way enough to generate the high tribute that is demanded from them as also from the mulattoes, the Corregidores seizing the tribute with such rigour it is unbelievable, to which their priests concur for the interest of their assigned stipend; that attending the aforementioned misery, the final annual contribution should be left at four pesos for the Indians and two pesos for the mulattoes and that the priests shall not collect from the Indians any fee for the administration of holy oils, funerals and weddings not to demand their services for their celebrations, since these, in case no pious person asks for them, should be paid for by the Confraternities […].

The comunero leader, the Creole Juan Francisco Berbeo, made common cause with the Indians, mulattoes and other popular sectors, while acknowledging the ‘limited understanding’ of the Indians. This kind of defence, typical of the late eighteenth century in both Creole and Spanish discourses, was based on the idea that Indian inferiority ‘called for their genetic assimilation, along with their legal and civic integration’ (Safford 1991, p. 7), as Creoles like Pedro Fermín de Vargas claimed: ‘[s]ería muy de desear que se extinguiesen los indios, confundiéndolos con los blancos, (quoted in Safford 1991, p. 8) [it would be desirable for the Indians to be extinguished, blending them with the whites].[6] The comuneros used a political language that relied on the concept of Indian rights to legitimate their own claims, but this alliance only identified the Spanish government as the source of an unfair legislation and demanded a solution, not a total rupture with Spain; Berbeo signed the document: ‘Puesto a los pies de V.A. el más rendido vasallo’ [At the feet of Your Highness, the most obsequious vassal].

The Capitulaciones were signed by an official commission of the Spanish government, but were annulled shortly after. The comunero rebellion then took a very different route when its leadership passed from Berbeo, a Creole, to José Antonio Galán, a mestizo with more radical ideas. During Galán’s military campaign, violence was directed towards both Creoles and Spaniards, as well as royal authorities. The landowners had to escape from the insurrection, which blacks, Indians, mestizos and poor whites had joined and whose motto was Mueran los blancos! [Death to the whites]. The struggle for the abolition of slavery and the hierarchical social order based on skin colour and pureza de sangre was linked to the idea of proclaiming the Inca king of the new kingdom. It was not an elaborate idea, since it came from an illiterate sector, but it was quite significant in that it opposed the legitimacy of an ancient empire to a foreign, invading monarchy. It is also significant that blacks, Indians, mestizos and poor whites appropriated this idea. Another aspect of the insurrection pointed out by Jane Rausch (1997) is the anticlericalism of the comuneros, who accused the priests of exploiting the Indians.

Not surprisingly, this and other insurrections failed to win the support of colonial elites because their invocation of the indigenous past threatened to mobilise a mass that, in the eyes of the Creoles, was far from the noble Indians depicted by Clavígero and others. Association with living Indians was always uncertain and perilous for the white groups. Indian revolts tended to be directed against white rule, whether Creole or Peninsular, and threatened to carry with it the mestizo, mulatto and black masses (Pagden p. 79), and were quite frequent throughout the eighteenth century (around 140 according to Lynch 1986, p. 165). Galán was executed in 1782 and subsequently ignored by the leaders of independence, since his example was all too inconvenient for the purpose of a war of independence. He survives in memory as a social ‘bandit’ and a legend of the peasants of his province, Socorro, rather than an antecedent to national liberation.[7]

Producing the Body of the Nation

¡Benditos seáis, oh naturalistas, mártires del saber, del patriotismo y de la filantropía! […] Algunas de esas huellas esplendentes que dejasteis, han sido dignamente seguidas; tan solo una, la más cara para vosotros, la huella de vuestra ciencia predilecta, permanece aún solitaria. ¡Perded cuidado, sin embargo, que vuestro reino se acerca! (Vezga 1971, p. 239).

[Blessed are you, naturalists, martyrs of knowledge, of patriotism and philanthropy! [...] Some of those splendorous traces you left have been pursued with dignity; only one, the dearest to you, the trace of your preferred science, remains solitary. Have no fear, though; your kingdom is getting closer!].

The work of the Creole intelligentsia refuted European scientific racist thought in which Americans are depicted as incapable by nature of producing anything of ‘lasting cultural value’ (Pagden, p. 76) and then resorted to the construction of their ‘homelands’ as singular and unique spaces by employing scientific discourse, introduced by the utilitarian rhetoric of the Bourbons (1759-1808) (Becerra & Restrepo 1993, p. 77). Examples of this are the many Enlightened projects and scientific lectures, as well as the numerous treatises on natural history with exhaustive inventories of the unique flora and fauna written in the colonies before independence. Each colony was presented in these works as uniquely endowed by Providence with natural wonders and resources, a narrative that was to be transculturated to Europe and back to America by European traveller/scientists, of which the example par excellence is Humboldt (Pratt 1992, pp. 111-143).[8] European traveller/scientists contributed to generating Creole interest in the space of the nation (Benítez-Rojo 1993, pp. 187-188).

Colombia was no exception to these trends, although the cultural conditions were more austere than those of Mexico or Peru as there were fewer spaces for the circulation of knowledge, diffusion of ideas and intellectual activity (Becerra & Restrepo, p. 78). Empirical science is central in this setting, as it is the privileged vehicle for the construction of identity since it enabled self-description and thus self-definition: ‘Man’ occupies the main position, since he is the source of intelligibility and the subject of enquiry; he is ‘a living being (the subject of Biology), an instrument of production (a labouring subject), a vehicle for words which exist before him (subject to the language)’ (Foucault 1970, p. 313). Despite the aforementioned cultural conditions the Expedición Botánica (1783-1810), led by the enlightened Spanish physician-botanist José Celestino Mutis[9] before independence was central to Colombia’s process of self-definition. Mutis was, significantly, a disciple of Carolus Linnaeus, who along with Buffon exemplifies the ‘classic’ episteme in the development of a classificatory system in natural history based on differential morphologies (Foucault 1970, p. 162).

The Expedición articulated nature and knowledge in a proto-nationalistic discourse based on the uniqueness of Nueva Granada. Chartered by royal decree in 1784, it produced in its 33 years of existence more than 5,300 meticulously detailed studies of previously unknown species of Colombian flora (Catlin p. 43; Fajardo 1985-86). The drawings were preserved, although they remained unknown for a long time as the Crown shut down the Expedición in the wake of Bolívar’s independence campaign.[10] Its importance, however, was to be recognised after the mid-nineteenth-century, when the Spanish heritage was revalued as part of a ‘new cycle in Colombian thought’, as Jaramillo (1974, p. 39) terms it. Between 1821 and 1845 the elite could not recognise the legacy of the Spanish Enlightenment for political reasons (Safford 1976, pp. 13-15; 114-123).

The emphasis on the natural sciences was also tied to a utopian vision of the ‘homeland’. The best example of this Creole attempt to revindicate local nature and locate the future nation in the politico-economic map of the world, is probably found in the texts of the enlightened scientist and later independence martyr Francisco José de Caldas[11] in Estado de la geografía en el virreynato de Santafe de Bogotá con relación a la economía y el comercio (1808). He argued that Colombia ‘appear[ed] destined by its geographical position for universal commerce’ (quoted in Chenu 1992, p. 276). Such a position was no less than ‘the centre of the New World. To its right it ha[d] all the riches of the north, to its left, all the natural productions of the south, it ha[d] ports both in the Pacific and the Atlantic and [was] in the middle of these vast oceans, far away from the hurricanes’ (p. 276). It was ‘better situated than Tyre and Alexandria’, and as it enjoyed all the climates of the world, it was able to supply the world ‘all the perfumes of Asia, African ivory, European industrial commodities, northern furs, whales from the southern seas […] everything produced on the surface of our world [can be obtained]’ (p. 276). Caldas also established differences between Nueva Granada and its neighbours: ‘there is nothing better situated in the Old and New world than Nueva Granada […] Can Peru, cornered in a sterile zone of the Pacific Coast, or Mexico, [somewhat] better located in the confines of the torrid zone and temperate zones, count as we do with prodigious numbers of rivers that will someday carry our riches from the centre to the extremities?’ (p. 277). Caldas enthusiastically depicted his ‘homeland’ as ripe for capitalist exploitation, which with the aid of science was ready to join the modern, civilised world – as a producer of raw materials.

This interest in the natural sciences and the knowledge of the natural resources of the territory shifted by mid-century towards the need to know the territory and trace its maps and to know its population. The objective of this disciplinary shift was to fix resources, territory, landscape, and its inhabitants within coalescing cultural, social, political and economic discourses which will produce through a combination of positive science and aesthetics, the body of the nation and depict its internal others. The task was undoubtedly a necessary one in the context of the modernising stance of mid-nineteenth century reforms. Geographical and cartographic information was scarce[12] and during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, a major portion of the existing information came from memories of foreign traveller-scientists.[13] The first school of engineering, the Colegio Militar, was founded in 1848 and President Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera decided that same year to assemble a commission to trace maps of the country and of each and every province. The Comisión Corográfica (1850-1859) planned to fill all the gaps in the knowledge of the country. The third article of the contract between the chief of the Comisión, the Italian engineer, Colonel Agustín (Agostino) Codazzi and Victoriano de Diego Paredes, delegate of the government, demonstrates the extent of its pretensions:

En los planos de las Provincias que haya explorado, determinará y situará todas las ciudades, villas, aldeas, parroquias y vecindarios; los caminos y veredas que conducen de un pueblo al otro; las ventas, haciendas y hatos que puedan señalarse; los límites de los diversos cantones; las cordilleras, sus principales alturas y ramificaciones; las grandes selvas y su extensión; el curso de los ríos, su navegación y ventajas; los afluentes, quebradas y caños... Noticias tan cabales como sea posible adquirir acerca de los productos naturales y manufacturados de cada localidad, su población y estadística militar, comercio, ganadería, plantas apreciables, terrenos baldíos y su calidad; animales silvestres; minerías, climas, estaciones y demás particularidades que sean dignas de anotarse (in Restrepo 1983, p. 281).

[In the maps of the Provinces that have been explored it will determine and locate all the cities, villages, towns, parishes and neighbourhoods; the roads and trails that lead from one town to another; the inns, haciendas and herds that can be pointed out; the limits of the diverse cantons; the mountain ranges, their main heights and ramifications; the great jungles and their extension; the course of rivers, their navigation and advantages; tributaries, creeks and glens... News as exact as possible about natural and manufactured products in each locality, its population and military statistics, commerce, livestock, useful plants, untilled terrains and their quality, wild animals, mining resources, climate, seasons and every other particularity worth noting].

One would be hard-pressed to try to add something to the list. In order to fulfil such a demanding task, the Comisión assembled a group of painters, writers, botanists[14] and cartographers who took ten years to chart the physical, political and human geography of Colombia in each of its highland, coastal and tropical provinces.

The team of painters that joined the Comisión[15] left a record of around 200 watercolours in the Album de la Comisión Corográfica, a colourful collection of topographic features, characteristic economic activities, socioracial types of the various regions (i.e. Tundama: tipo blanco e indio mestizo, 1850 by Carmelo Fernández or Lavadoras de oro río Guadalupe, 1852 by Enrique Price) and indigenous ‘antiquities’. Mestizos, mulattoes, whites and blacks (Indians were displayed separately) ‘stare into space, never at one another: they are illustrative types, not characters; they inhabit tableaux, not narratives (Rappaport 1992, p. 123). Representations of women make up seven per cent of the one hundred and twelve paintings (Londoño Vélez 1995, p. 281).

As Colmenares states, visual representation replicated social representations:

Acuarelas y bocetos desplegaban las tipologías de oficios humildes con una condescendencia similar a la del costumbrismo literario. Los criollos, encerrados hasta entonces en una imaginería sombría y barroca que adornaba las naves de los templos o los retratos encorsetados de funcionarios reales, descubría con el mismo aire maravillado de los viajeros extranjeros el mundo extraño y abigarrado de su propio entorno (1987 p. 76).

[Watercolours and sketches showed typologies of humble crafts with a condescension similar to that of literary costumbrismo. The Creoles, locked up until then in a sombre and baroque imagery that adorned the naves of temples or the corseted portraits of the royal bureaucrats, discovered with the same wonder of foreign travellers the strange and variegated world of their own environment].

As Olga Restrepo has noted in her reading of the paintings and descriptions of the Comisión, a sense of belonging was built on the basis of the exaltation of a recognisable ‘Neo-grenadine’ nature, the production of a nostalgic Indian past, the classification of human types seeking to represent the characteristics of a given region, social class or ethnic group and the need for a unified identity based on the education of the ‘people’ (1999, pp. 41-57), a project that was to bloom during the radical liberal period.
The Comisión was also fundamental in delineating the boundaries of the body of the nation: after Codazzi’s death in 1859, his charts were still used to compose the first Atlas de los Estados Unidos de Colombia (1864) and after the territorial reorganisation of 1886, they were used again for the Atlas geográfico e histórico de Colombia, published under Manuel María Paz’s name in France in 1889. Historical novelist and geographer Felipe Pérez used them too for his Compendio de Jeografía General de los Estados Unidos de Colombia (1876) and General Francisco Javier Vergara y Velasco, for his Nueva Geografía de Colombia (1901). Travel accounts are also part of the legacy of the Comisión, like Manuel Ancízar’s ‘best-seller’, Peregrinación de Alpha por las provincias del norte de la Nueva Granada (1850-51), and Santiago Pérez’s articles.[16]

Supported later by the modernising president José Hilario López (1849- 1853), who sought to remove the remaining colonial structures that hindered liberalism, the Comisión not only continued the efforts of traveller-scientists like Humboldt, but also implied a ’further application of the European Enlightenment’s principles of empirical research and knowledge gathering, now associated with rational control of its own affairs by an autonomous state’ (Catlin, p. 57). This was carried out in part by local artists and letrados-cum -scientists in order to gain an understanding of their native patrimony.

In short, science and aesthetics, along with visual and written discourses, produce the physical space of the nation as well as identities, seeking to regulate them in order to build the modern nation. The emergence of practices such as mapping, surveying, cataloguing (natural species, regions, resources, racial types or social classes) point to the diverse nexus between space, knowledge and power. The space of the nation is socially produced (and reproduced) and is implicated in the production and reproduction of power differentials (Harvey 1989, pp. 226-229). Space, in turn, can be also seen as both a constituting and constituted dimension of human interaction as well as a significant factor in the politics of identity. In this view, identity and location are inseparable.

A New Beginning: the Symbolic Economy of the Independent Nation

Like other aesthetic forms, the nation-state too promises to bring forth order out of disorder, mould form from that in which form is absent (Daniel 1997, p. 309).

La ciudad letrada no estuvo, sin embargo, hecha solo de palabras, de parnasos y de gramáticas, sino tambien de monumentos, que preludian el sentido de los museos en cuanto signo que busca articular el pasado al futuro, pero “conjurando el tiempo”, encubriendo las zozobras e incertidumbres de los orígenes tras las imágenes de heroes mitificados (Martín-Barbero 2000, p. 43).

[The lettered city was made not only of words, Parnassuses and grammars, but also of monuments that prelude the role of the museum as a sign seeking to articulate the past to the future, although “conjuring time”, covering the doubts and uncertainties of the origins behind images of mythicised heroes].

The nation joins together institutions and social actors moulding time and space as a single totality. The sense of continuity in history, of temporal unfolding of national progress is constructed through narratives that depart primarily, although not exclusively, from the state. According to Homi Bhabha, the state constructs narratives of nation, which produces in turn subjects and objects that inhabit those narratives. These subjects and objects become then the legitimate receptacles and constituents of the nation through ‘complex strategies of cultural identification and discursive address that function in the name of “the people” or “the nation” and make them the immanent subjects and objects of a range of social and literary narratives’ (1990, p. 292).

The nation cannot be experienced immediately as perception, so it has to be imagined. Its visualisation occurs through the mediation of a catachresis, an arbitrary sign (Redfield 1999, pp. 61-62). In Colombia, the letrados embarked in the creation of a national imagery; a sense of novelty, unity and uniqueness of the newborn nation was conveyed by the emergence of a new symbolic economy, manifested in the national literary histories and historiographies, in the emergence of a new rhetoric (proclamations, official discourses), a new iconography (the flag,[17] the escutcheon), music (the national anthem) and architecture (plazas, avenues and public buildings, all in neoclassic style, seeking to convey modernity and progress; the naming of these places with independence heroes names, seeking to convey the idea that the nation is born with independence) (González Ortega 1996).

New national holidays also came to mark the secular time of the modern nation. The symbolic ‘birth’ of the nation is materialised in the celebrations of independence. In the 1810 revolution, a combination of tradition and new discourses (patria, freedom) entered the popular imaginary. For instance, some swore to shed blood to defend the Spanish king, Ferdinand VII, Catholicism as well as the freedom of the fatherland and popular will. Both royalists and revolutionaries saw war as a familial drama. The rejection of royal authority was described as a radical break between parent and child, where the king referred to the revolutionaries as rebellious sons. Republicans saw themselves as grown children rejecting parental tyranny. The image of the king as father will change later into that of Spain as a stepmother, as appears in the writings of leaders such as Bolívar and Nariño (Earle 2000, p. 130-131). The notion of breaking with the king’s authority caused opposition to the revolution by certain groups of natives and blacks (Aguilera & Vega 1998).

The definitive victory over the Spanish troops nine years later (during which time the Spanish took almost the entire continent again by force in what is known as La Reconquista) signalled a radical rupture with the Madre Patria (motherland) and royal authority. The date of the definitive military victory is August 7th 1819, date of the battle of Boyacá, which meant the defeat of the Spaniards. A month later, on September 18, a triumphant Bolívar entered Bogotá and the urban space was employed as a means to ‘perform’ the idea of political and military victory, thus anchoring a sense of rupture in collective memory in what Georges Lomné has termed ‘the spectacle of the victorious nation’ (1994, p. 147) where the city is the privileged stage of institutional memory, used in the construction of a univocal national memory. A new republican calendar was set (in the Roman style), marking the glorious events of the nation, reifying independence and contrasting a sombre past to a luminous future (Colmenares 1987, pp. 96-97).

The Gaceta de Santafe de Bogotá, October 17 1819 offers a detailed account of the celebration of independence. First, there was a parade:
Todos venían vestidos de gala, y montados sobre soberbios caballos adornados de ricos y preciosos jaeces. [...] Cuatro clarines rompían la marcha anunciándola con sus toques [...] Cerraban la marcha los Cuerpos militares que iban reuniendose y formándose en columnas. [...] La marcha era lenta y majestuosa; un golpe armonioso de música guerrera, llevaba a los corazones la admiración, el respeto y un entusiasmo inexplicables (Lora p. 368).

[They were all wearing full dress and riding spirited horses adorned with rich and precious harnesses […] Four clarions opened the march, announcing it with its rhythms […] The march closed with the military corps which joined and formed columns […] The march was slow and majestic, the beat of the martial music carried to the hearts admiration, respect and an unexplainable enthusiasm].

This is followed by a description of the physical space:

Las calles [...] estaban aseadas, blanqueadas y pintadas de antemano [...] Siete arcos triunfales [...] estaban erigidos […] [u]na lluvia incesante de flores caía sobre las cabezas del General en Jefe y de sus Ilustres compañeros de armas. [En el templo] salieron a recibirle el Prelado Eclesiástico y su cabildo, con el Clero, los Rectores de la Universidad y de los dos Colegios, los Prelados de las cinco Ordenes de Religiosos de la Ciudad y los Síndicos de los Monasterios de Religiosas [...] Se oyeron un solemne Te Deum, y otras preces en acción de gracias (p. 370).

[The streets […] were cleaned, whitened and painted beforehand […] Seven triumphal arches […] were erected […] an incessant rain of flowers fell was falling on the heads of the General in command and his illustrious companions-at-arms. [At the temple] they were received by the ecclesiastical prelate and his council with the clergy, the Deans of the University and of the two Colleges, the prelates of the five religious orders of the city and the trustees of the monasteries of the nuns […] There was a solemn Te Deum and other prayers as acts of thanksgiving].[18]

The streets were clean; maidens in white threw flowers on the heads of the heroes: the social body was clean and pure in its origin and its links to Antiquity are explicit. The parade, however, was organised in a strict hierarchical order full of uniforms and horses. The great pomp of the monarchy was displaced towards the worship of the heroes and the glory of the newborn republic. The fact that Bolívar was received in the Cathedral both by the ecclesiastic authorities and the deans of the Colegios Mayores is significant; they represented the religious and intellectual authorities and heads of the social pyramid. These images interact in the creation of a new symbolic economy of victory and power that replaced the old one (damnatio memoriae), combined with a national symbolic economy that stands as a sort of ars memorativa, a set of memorable images that are supposed to provoke in the onlooker certain feelings – patriotism, glory (Yates 1978). This symbolic economy legitimates the new republic, in which the military came to occupy an important place. These celebrations have survived in present-day Colombia: there is still a military parade on Independence Day, and modern ‘heroes’ (artists, scientists, sportsmen and women) are still given the Cruz de Boyacá.

In short, the symbolic economy of the nation was built through an operation of ‘cultural ritualisation’, as cultural critic Néstor García Canclini (1995, p. 109) terms it. This operation entails the staging or dramatisation of the ‘tradition’ in several ways, as in commemorations, monuments and museums, that is, through a visual economy. In this sense, ‘to be cultured […] is to grasp a body of knowledge – largely iconographic – about one’s own history, and also to participate in the stagings in which hegemonic groups have society presented itself with a scene of its origin’ (p. 109).

In this process, the female body was particularly suitable to the purpose of creating an inclusive imagery: ‘the “essential woman” (raced or not) becomes the national iconic signifier for the material, the passive, and the corporeal, to be worshipped, protected, and controlled by those with the power to remember and to forget, to define, and redefine’ (Alarcón, Kaplan & Moallem 1999, p. 10). In Colombia, an Indian woman dressed in Greek fashion appeared as early as 1812 in the escutcheon of Cartagena (Lomné 1991, p. 13) and reappeared as representation of ‘American liberty’ in coins, engravings and paintings – an image reminiscent of colonial representations of America. When independence was consolidated, the image of a feminine ‘liberty’ slowly receded in favour of Bolívar’s patriarchal figure. [19] In the 1819 portrait Simón Bolívar, Libertador y Padre de la Patria by Pedro José Figueroa, for instance, Bolívar stands protectively besides a cute Indian girl dressed in European attire (Rojas 2001, p. 69; also Traba 1974, p. 48). In less than a decade, (1812 -1821) the Indian woman on the coins and the escutcheon was replaced by a woman in a Roman outfit (Rojas, p. 71).

Independence did not substantially modified social or economic structures. Despite its constructions of newness, there was an enormous disparity between the objectives of unity and democracy and the means to obtain it. The intelligentsia, a network of letrados which included historians, naturalists, politicians, writers, and so forth, constructed Colombia as a white, Andean, Catholic country whose independence was the work of male Creoles, with little participation of the ‘passive mass’ of Indians, mulattos, blacks and women:

El criollo es en todos los lugares el cerebro de la revolución, sin economizar generosidad ni sacrificio, mientras que el indio, el negro, el mulato y el mestizo son instrumentos materiales. El criollo es a la vez legislador, administrador, líder popular y jefe… El es quien guía la revolución y es el depositario de la filosofía de la revolución. Las razas o castas restantes, especialmente en los inicios, no hicieron nada diferente a obedecer el ímpetu de quienes poseían el prestigio de la inteligencia, la intrepidez e incluso la superiodad de la raza blanca (Samper 1853, pp. 186-187).

[The Creole is, everywhere, the brain of the revolution, without economising generosity or sacrifice, whilst the Indian, the black, the mulatto and the mestizo are material instruments. The Creole is legislator, administrator, popular leader and boss at the same time… It is he who guides the revolution and acts as depositary of the philosophy of the revolution. The rest of the races or castas, especially at the beginning, did nothing but obey the impetus of those who had the prestige of intelligence and even the superiority of the white race].

Samper did not limit himself to praising white leadership but analysed as well why the castas and women[20] had such limited participation in the revolution:

Los negros esclavos, incapaces de comprender la revolución y oprimidos por su condición servil, sirvieron simultáneamente a dos causas, según la opinión de sus amos o los recursos de acción de los jefes militares enemigos […]. En cuanto a los indios, mulatos y otros mestizos, […] por regla general los primeros fueron en su mayor número instrumentos de la reacción en las regiones montañosas; que los mulatos y zambos libres formaron en las filas de la revolución, en su mayor número, y que los mestizos de indio y español fueron los mas terribles combatientes en los dos campos, sirviendo esas turbas semibárbaras de elementos de acción a cada partido […]. Las mujeres […] no comprenden la filosofía de las revoluciones, ni tienen la fuerza moral e intelectual bastante para hacerse cargo de las cuestiones políticas, de cuyos pormenores pueden equivocarse y se equivocan con facilidad y frecuencia. Pero su instinto es definitivamente más sensible y penetrante que el del hombre para adivinar la justicia, para sentir noblemente y ejercer su piedad (p. 157).

[Black slaves, incapable of understanding the revolution and oppressed by their servile condition, served simultaneously two causes, depending on the opinion of their masters or the resources of action of the enemy military commanders […] Concerning Indians, mulattoes and other mestizos, […] the first ones were in general instruments of the reaction in the mountainous regions; mulattoes and free zambos joined the revolution for the most part and the Indian and Spaniard mestizos were the most terrible combatants in both fields, serving those semi-barbaric crowds as elements of action for both sides […]. Women […] do not understand the philosophy of revolutions, nor do they have enough moral and intellectual strength to assume political questions, which details they can mistake and do mistake easily and frequently. But their instinct is definitively more sensible and penetrating than men’s to discover justice, to feel in a noble way and exercise piety].

As with the Indians, the mass was idealised – sometimes praised, and more frequently feared and rejected. It inhabited a ‘low-culture’, a pre-modern world of ignorance and superstition, which included syncretic popular religious celebrations and supernatural phenomena (miracles, apparitions of Virgins), which became entangled with the nation with the introduction of the new symbolic economy of patriotism.[21]

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, for instance, played an important role in the construction of national-political-religious identities in Colombia. It was declared ‘General of the Army of Cundinamarca’ in the 1810 revolution and the 1886 conservative constitution declared Colombia a Catholic nation, consecrating it in 1892 to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a tenet that lasted until a constitutional reform in 1994 declared it unlawful (Henríquez 1996). The ‘masses’ were, in short, of interest as legitimators of the bourgeois order and hegemony, but bothersome as the locus of the uncultured (García-Canclini, pp. 147-148), embodying the shameful part of national identity and therefore had to be disciplined through a number of technologies – education, work, observance of civic festivities. The intelligentsia, by contrast, created the nation for the ‘people’ and engaged in a number of practices, to which we now turn.

Shaping the (classic) Elite and the (grotesque) Masses

El naturalista, el químico, el ingeniero estudian para dominar la naturaleza; el sacerdote y el letrado, naturalmente con muchas excepciones, estudiaban para dominar los pueblos. Contenidas ambas profesiones en los límites justos de las necesidades a que dan satisfacción, son útiles a la sociedad; pero llevadas al exceso se convierten en fuerzas dañinas y opresoras (Samper 1985, p. 21).

[The naturalist, the chemist, the engineer study to dominate nature; the priest and the letrado, with many exceptions, naturally, studied to dominate peoples. Contained both professions in the just limits of the needs they satisfy, they are useful to society, but if taken to excess, they become harmful and oppressive forces].

Parallel to the creation of the symbolic economy of the nation, the elite engaged in projects of governmentality, whose objective was the modernisation of the country. Masses and elites, however, occupy different positions in the project. To delineate
[1] On the topic of the situation of women under colonial rule, see Lavrín (1989); Socolow (2000).
[2] Representación politico-legal, que haze a nuestro senor soberano Don Phelipe Quinto...para que se sirva declarar, no tienen los Espanoles Americanos obice para obtener empleos politicos y militares de la America, y deven ser preferidos en todos, assi ecclesiasticos como seculares.

[3] These paintings are comments on miscegenation, but also on status and purity (Dean & Leibsohn 2003, p. 10). Usually destined for members of the colonial elite, they are images of both the exotic and the self, depicting not only the exotic nature of colonial racial heterogeneity, but also the colonial universe itself (Katzew 1996, p. 17).
[4] For an account of the diversity of slave experiences in Colombia in the face of the Enlightenment-inspired reforms of the Bourbon era, see Soulodre-La France (2001).
[5] The Mexicans José Eguiara y Eguren and Francisco Clavígero also replied to European scientific racism. The latter, a Jesuit exiled in Italy, answered Buffon and reclaimed the indigenous past as part of a Creole identity in an effort to re-establish some connection between the Indian past and the Creole present. Clavígero claimed that Indians were as innately gifted as any white, but what prevented them from producing ‘philosophers, mathematicians, and theologians’ was their ‘miserable servile life’. It is interesting to note that while Clavígero revindicated the ancient Aztecs, in the contemporary Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Thomas Jefferson, who also responded to Buffon’s arguments, exalted instead white British Americans (Rodríguez 1998, pp. 13-19).
[6] An early eugenic project (the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883). On eugenics in the Latin American context, see Stepan (1991).

[7] The social bandit is first in a series of liminal characters, (whose last incarnation could well be the drug trafficker) oscillating between the abject and the epic, the murderer and the founder of nations (Hobsbawm 2000).
[8] Humboldt visited Cuba, the North and Central Andes and Mexico. The report of his five-year journey (1799-1804), published over three decades and following as it did in the wake of the Enlightenment’s interest in science and the so-called ‘primitive’ cultures, excited Europe as if it were a second discovery of a New World whose wonders had been hidden by Spanish protectionism (Catlin 1989, p. 46).


[9] Mutis is also credited with the introduction of modern medical mentalities (Miranda, Quevedo & Hernández 1993, p. 56), modern physics and astronomy in Colombia (Saldaña 1995, p. 38).
[10] A discussion on the aesthetic values of the Expedition’s paintings can be found in Barney Cabrera (1965); on the participating painters and apprentices see González & Amaya (1996).



[11]Francisco José de Caldas epitomises the Creole scientist – to this day government institutions, scientific publications and a province bear his name.

[12] The only trustworthy maps were the charts of the Caribbean coastline, done by the Fidalgo Expedition, the Atlantic coast, by Vicente Talledo y Rivera, the middle and lower Magdalena, by Humboldt and the upper Magdalena and Cauca, by Caldas. Regions like Orinoco and the Amazon (two thirds of the total territory of the nation) were virtually unknown (Domínguez 2000, pp. 344, 345).
[13] Humboldt and Bonpland (1801); French physician Francois Roulin (1822-24); Peruvian geologist Mariano de Rivero (1825); British colonel John Hamilton (1819); French geographer Gaspar Mollien (1823); French chemist and geologist Jean Baptiste Boussingault (1822-32); North American colonel William Duane (1820); French consul Auguste Le Moyne (1830); Swedish engineer Karl de Greiff (arrived in 1826); German geologist Hermann Karsten (1850) and French geographer Elisee Reclús (1850-54) (Poveda 1993, p. 83).


[14] Like naturalist José Jerónimo Triana, who was able to collect and study around 4000 plants.
[15] Carmelo Fernández (1850-1852), Enrique Price (1852) and Manuel María Paz (1853–1859) belonged to Humboldt’s school of traveller-painters, combining scientific precision and a spiritual perception of nature, Castrillón (1997-98); González (2000); Barney Cabrera (1965).
[16] For a complete listing of the legacies of the Comisión, see Poveda (1993, pp. 98-102).

[17] According to Marc Redfield, the solid colours in the flags of modern nation-states testify to the arbitrariness of a sign that has been posited, not inherited or found, in contrast with heraldry (p. 62).

[18] On the shifting position of the Church throughout the nineteenth century, see González (1985; 1987).
[19] On the cult to the figure of Bolívar, see Fajardo de Rojas (1983).
[20] Women did contribute in many ways to independence as combatants, spies, nurses, hosting tertulias, donating money and so forth. This, however, did not lead to major changes in their role or position in society (Cherpak 1978, pp. 220, 230).
[21] The elite favoured European Enlightened rationalism over popular Catholicism (Morandé 1991, p. 51) although religion was entwined with ethnic/national and proto-national identities. See Brading (2002; 1998) on Mexican nationalism and the Virgin of Guadalupe and Mujica Pinilla (2001) on Saint Rosa of Lima and the creation of a Peruvian Creole conscience.