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Volume 56 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Colombia and Ecuador

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

DURING THE PAST 30 YEARS, the study of history as a serious academic discipline in Colombia has steadily matured. Although Velandia's valuable book on the Academia Colombiana de Historia (item bi 94005536) reminds us not to negate the contributions of traditional historians, there is a new generation of scholars, trained by history faculties at Colombian universities and also abroad, who are posing new questions, experimenting with methodologies, and exploring untapped archives. This transformation is reflected in the articles edited since 1963 by members of the History Dept. of the Univ. Nacional in Bogotá and published in the Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura, several of which are annotated below, and by the high quality and varied themes of papers presented at the Congreso Nacional de Historia de Colombia held at the Univ. Industrial de Santander (8th, Bucaramanga, 1992, item bi 9500777l). Perhaps the best indication, however, is the groundbreaking La historia al final del milenio (item bi 95013826), in which Colombian and foreign historians critically evaluate the status of research on a variety of colonial and national topics. Their essays attest to the enormous strides made in historiography in recent years and to the vigor of Colombian intellectual life in spite of the country's political travails.

With regard to the publication of documents, a trend noted in previous years, this report includes descriptions of four collections (items bi 95007770, bi 940055l5, bi 940055l4, and bi 95000ll3) that complete the 80-volume project begun in 1986 by the Fundación Francisco Paula de Santander with the goal of making available modern, critical editions of Santander's correspondence, diaries, and other documents related to his life and times. Enhanced by introductory essays and notations on methodology, these volumes supersede older existing editions. Especially valuable is Santander y los libros (item bi 95000ll3), which includes, in addition to a catalog of Santander's library at the time of his death, a list of all the volumes in the Fundación project, indexed by title and author.

Another collaborative project worthy of mention is Historia de las fuerzas militares de Colombia, sponsored by the Ministry of Defense and edited by Gen. Alvaro Valencia Tovar (item bi 94005516). Modeled after the Nueva historia de Colombia (see HLAS 52:2367-2372), the set includes three volumes on the army and one each on the air force, navy, and national police. The texts consist of essays written by 14 active or retired officers. Containing up-to-date bibliographies, maps, and photographs, the books promise to be valuable reference works for many decades. Conflicto amazónico 1932/1934, also edited by Valencia Tovar, is an anthology of essays by military historians focusing on Colombia's war with Peru over Leticia (item bi 95007768).

Turning now to monographs and articles, biography, regional history, and La Violencia remain popular topics, although methodologies vary considerably. Restrepo Restrepo combines the first two subjects in his impressive study of Antioqueñan lawyer, Pedro Antonio Restrepo Escovar (item bi 94005542). Utilizing Restrepo Escovar's diaries written between 1859-99, the author shows how one man's career can illustrate major regional developments of the late-19th century. More classic in approach are Antei's study of the early years of Agustín Codazzi (item bi 940l0l64) and a new edition of Grillo's life of Santander, El hombre de las leyes (item bi 93005517), while the volumes dealing with Manuela Sáenz (item bi 95001206) and Vicente Lizcano (item bi 94005550) combine selections from their writings with biographical essays by contemporary scholars. Two contrasting monographs, one a tesis de grado (item bi 94005526) and the other a more personal memoir (item bi 9400556l), offer insights into the career of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.

Among the regional studies, Clavijo Ocampo and Valencia Llano use local notarial records (item bi 95007783). In his analysis of 19th-century Antioqueñan colonization, Eduardo Santa adds oral testimony and personal experience to these materials to demonstrate that pioneer movement was spontaneous (item bi 95007776). In Nación y etnias, a geographer and a historian provide an excellent introduction to the understudied Amazon region (item bi 95000675), while Historia económica y social del Caribe colombiano offers a survey of the Caribbean coast from 1498-1994 (item bi 95013825).

Continuing unabated is the interest in La Violencia, which, as Ricardo Peñaranda noted in 1992, "has produced the most voluminous set of studies on a single subject ever seen in Colombian historiography" (see p. 294 of Violence in Colombia, reviewed in HLAS 52:2394). Sáenz Rovner's revised dissertation shows that although powerful Colombian industrialists did not cause La Violencia, they took advantage of it between 1945-50 to increase their political and economic influence (item bi 94005533). Barbosa Estepa uses oral testimony and printed sources to analyze the origin and characteristics of La Violencia within the unique history of the Llanos (item bi 94005555). Alape has completed the second volume of his biography of FARC leader Pedro Antonio Marín (item bi 94007955), and recent guerrilla movements of the 1980s are the subject of articles by Ortiz (item bi 94007955) and Chernick and Jiménez (item bi 94002042). Most importantly, in his stimulating sociocultural history of the development of Colombian identity in the 20th century (item bi 95019249), Uribe Celis places La Violencia in a broader context, suggesting that the ideological nature of politics, rapid modernization, and failure to develop true democracy have perpetuated the phenomenon.

Historical research in Ecuador still lags behind that of Colombia, but the papers presented at international seminars on the "Significance of Liberalism in Ecuador" (item bi 94005552) and on Ecuador's African roots (item bi 94005544) reveal that new as well as traditional topics are attracting scholarly attention. Among noteworthy monographs dealing with the 19th century are Darío Lara's well-researched biography of LaFond de Lurcy (item bi 95001203), whose account of his experiences in Ecuador is an important source for the independence era, and Tobar Donoso's examination of the evolution of the legal status of Indians with regard to tithing, debt peonage, and agrarian reform (item bi 94005534).

For the 20th century, Vol. 12 of the Nueva historia del Ecuador, edited by Ayala Mora, offers essays by knowledgeable historians on urban development, provincial organization, demography, and regionalism (item bi 94005556). There are two fine studies of five-time president José María Velasco Ibarra: Maiguashca's article examining the socioeconomic conditions that led to the emergence of velasquismo (item bi 94002286) and De la Torre's dissertation focusing on the caudillo's early career (item bi 95007780). Ycaza Cortez extends his history of labor to cover the post-WWII era (item bi 940l08l7), and finally, Goffin's survey of the growth of fundamentalist Protestant groups is a sobering indictment of their impact on native cultures and the environment (item bi 94005287).

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