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Volume 54 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Colombia and Ecuador

JANE M. RAUSCH, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

CAREFULLY-EDITED DOCUMENTARY COLLECTIONS and stimulating general interpretations, both trends noted in HLAS 52, remain the salient features of this reporting period. With regard to documents, the Fundación Francisco Paula de Santander, established in 1986, has published nearly 100 volumes of correspondence, diaries and other documents related to Santander's life and times. Nine of these multi-volume collections were annotated in HLAS 52, and 12 additional titles are listed here under "Santandereana." Enhanced by introductory essays and methodological notes by well-known historians, these volumes supersede older editions and make accessible materials formerly buried in obscure archives. For a complete description of the Fundación publications, see my essay "The Santander Historical Collection: A Brief Report about a New and Important Documentary Resource" in Inter-American Review of Bibliography (Vol. 43, No. 1, 1992).

Nineteenth-century travel accounts by John Steuart (item bi 92013700) and Rosa Carnegie Williams (item bi 92013698) have been translated to Spanish. These are the first volumes of a potentially promising documentary series about the history of Bogotá published by the Academia de Historia de Bogotá, an institution created in 1987 as part of the official effort to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the city's founding. Finally, new editions of Historia contemporánea de Colombia by Gustavo Arboleda (item bi 92015946) and La Iglesia y el Estado en Colombia by Juan Pablo Restrepo (item bi 92013729) will make these fundamental but long out-of-print texts available to many libraries.

Noteworthy among the general interpretations is Bushnell's The making of modern Colombia, the first one-volume survey of Colombian history to be published in English in many decades (item bi 93002256). With consummate skill Bushnell has integrated recent research on Colombian topics into a lively narrative that will appeal both to specialists and undergraduates. Also of interest are essay collections by Colombian scholars Renán Vega Cantor (item bi 92013733), Alvaro Tirado Mejía (item bi 93002966), Jorge Orlando Melo (item bi 93014400), and by members of the Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Económicas (item bi 92013669). These works span the 19th and 20th centuries and offer fresh approaches to such on-going debates as the evolution of national identity and the origins of La Violencia. For regional history, faculty at the Univ. del Valle continue to lead the way with innovative studies on socioeconomic developments in the Cauca Valley (items bi 92013730 and bi 93009223), but there are also pioneer works concerning more peripheral provinces such as the island of San Andrés (item bi 92013676) and the Eastern Llanos (item bi 92013655). Among several competent biographies, Delpar provides an objective assessment of Soledad Román, the second wife of Rafael Núñez (item bi 91027511), and investigative journalists Galvis and Donadío paint a convincing portrait of Rojas Pinilla based on an extensive examination of extant archival documents and interviews with his contemporaries (item bi 92013743).

Labor history, frontier colonization and La Violencia are other popular topics. Sowell charts the growth of artisan labor organizations and their participation in political activities between 1832-1919 to challenge the traditional conception of a political system monopolized by the elite (item bi 93002945). His study is complemented by Archila's social history of the working classes in Bogotá, Medellín, Barranquilla, and Barrancabermeja between 1910-45 (item bi 93002945). The subject of Antioquia's expanding frontier was first explored by geographer James Parsons. Papers presented at a Manizales seminar held in Nov. 1987 reassess the relevance of Antioqueñan colonization in western Colombia (item bi 93013674), and, when combined with Valencia Llanos' book on the foundation of Manizales (item bi 93009221), demonstrate that there is still much to learn about settlement dynamics in this region. For the Cundinamarcan province of Sumapaz, see Elsy Marulanda Alvarez's study of frontier expansion from 1870-1965 (item bi 92013754) and oral accounts of four people who settled there as transcribed by González Arias (item bi 92015961). On the eastern front, Augusto Gómez traces colonization of the Llanos Orientales from 1870-1970 with an emphasis on the violent interaction between colonos and Indians (item bi 93002947). Two books dealing with La Violencia trace its roots to the late 19th century: Jaramillo Castillo's fascinating analysis of guerrilla units fighting in the War of a Thousand Days (item bi 92013686); and Betancourt's investigation of three phases of violence in the department of Valle (item bi 92013756). Essays on the inter-relationship of La Violencia with political life (item bi 91007644) and with economic growth and human rights (item bi 91004461) round out this subgroup. The high quality of these and other works under review is perhaps the strongest testimony that despite ongoing violence and political unrest within Colombia, academic life remains vigorous and productive.

Turning to Ecuador, among the most important entries are four volumes that survey national history from independence to 1960 and form part of the Nueva historia del Ecuador edited by Enrique Ayala Mora (item bi 92000137). Publication of this projected 17-volume series began in 1983 with the goal of providing students and general readers with a synthesis of contemporary scholarship about Ecuador from precolumbian times to the present. The attractive format of the books (each of which contains primary documents, helpful summaries, maps and bibliographies) makes them excellent introductions to the periods under discussion.

For the 19th century, Gimeno's fine study of Flores' attempt to reestablish a monarchy in 1846 (item bi 92015962) supplements Mark van Aken's recent biography of the General reviewed in HLAS 52. Renewed interest in Manuela Sáenz is evident in the heated responses of Ecuadoran and Venezuelan scholars to Densil Romero's novel, La esposa de Dr. Thorne (item bi 92013693). The best works on the 20th-century focus on labor history. Pineo analyzes the Guayaquil strike of 1922 (item bi 89004165), while Gándara Enríquez refutes charges that the military used excessive force to repress the strikers (item bi 92015967). Ycaza employs a Marxist framework to survey the working class movement from 1935-91 (item bi 93009219). Finally, Padilla's history of Protestantism in Ecuador breaks new ground on a sociocultural phenomenon that has captured the interest of researchers throughout Latin America (item bi 92013679).

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