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Volume 58 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Colombia and Ecuador

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

THIS TWO-YEAR REVIEW PERIOD saw the publication of some superb historiographic and bibliographic studies in Colombia and Ecuador. The most notable event of the period—the 1995 bicentennial commemoration of the birth of Antonio José de Sucre—inspired, especially in Ecuador, an outpouring of books and articles reassessing the meaning of his career and his assassination. Other patriots, whose lives spanned the independence and early national periods, also received renewed attention on both sides of the border. Colombian monographs continue to reflect the fine scholarship that has characterized the field of history since the development of graduate programs at major Colombian universities. It is refreshing to observe that, after a long delay, similar developments in Ecuadorian universities are generating some excellent research.

Beginning with Colombian historiography, Londoño and Durán's bibliography of 376 memoirs and autobiographies written by Colombians from 1817-1996 is an essential guide to many previously obscure sources (item #bi 99005013#). The five- volume Historia General del Huila (item #bi 97012629#), a departmental version of the Nueva Historia de Colombia, which includes multidisciplinary essays by faculty, students, and aficionados on huilense topics ranging from preconquest to the present, reveals the value of a regional focus when studying a country composed of loosely united regions. Among several historiographical articles, the late Germán Colmenares' analysis of the weaknesses in Colombian school texts is especially intriguing (item #bi 96011216#). Finally, the long-awaited, Entre la legitimidad y la violencia by Marco Palacios (item #bi 97006281#), is a stimulating one-volume synthesis of Colombian history providing a fine counterpart to David Bushnell's The Making of Modern Colombia reviewed in HLAS 52.

Turning to the 19th century, several biographies obliterate the line that is often drawn between the independence and early national periods. Moreno de Angel's authoritative study of José María Córdoba (item #bi 97006284#) describes an able general and patriot who was murdered for rebelling against Bolívar's dictatorship in 1829. Lofstrom's analysis of the youthful years of Tomás Cipriano Mosquera (item #bi 97012632#) offers a unique but persuasive psychological approach, while Castrillón Arboleda (item #bi 96009707#) presents a fuller portrait of this statesman, military officer, and revolutionary. In a two-volume study, Malcom Deas (item #bi 97012630#) explores the life and writings of British entrepreneur Guillermo Wills, an active participant in New Granadan affairs between 1826 and 1875. Also providing insight into this era are Mantilla Ruiz's monograph on the role of the Franciscans in Colombian independence (item #bi 97012217#), and Spanish translations of two previously unpublished PhD dissertations: Gilmore's study of federalism (item #bi 97006272#), and Young's examination of university reform (item #bi 97006276#).

There are four important contributions to the intellectual history of the late-19th century: Martínez's study of the impact of European nationalism on the writings of Samper, Núñez, and Holguín (item #bi 97010838#); Múnera's collection of essays by costeño intellectuals and their impact on 19th-century political thought (item #bi 97006266#); Deas' article exploring the role played by grammarians and philologists in the Conservative Party from 1885-1930 (item #bi 96022779#); and Bermúdez Q.'s gendered analysis of the image of the "ideal woman" as portrayed in periodicals published during the Olimpo Radical (item #bi 96009706#).

Twentieth-century topics include regionalism, foreign policy, politics, and violence. Noteworthy among the regional studies is Posada Carbó's well-researched survey of the Colombian Caribbean from 1870-1950 (item #bi 97006287#). Donadío's concise narrative of Colombia's war with Peru in 1932, meanwhile, is based on a thorough examination of archives in Washington DC, London, Rome, and Bogotá (item #bi 96009738#). There are two perceptive biographies of Camilo Torres: Pérez Ramírez seeks to dispel the myths surrounding his career and death (item #bi 97012647#), while Villanueva Martínez argues that the priest did not become a revolutionary because of disillusionment with the Catholic Church, but rather because his "dramatic contact with national reality" led him to see armed struggle as the only way to effect structural change (item #bi 96009731#).

Turning now to Ecuador, Núñez Sánchez has produced an extraordinarily helpful survey of works by Ecuadorian and foreign historians associated with the "Nueva Historia" movement that began in the 1970s. His 70-page bibliography will be indispensable to researchers (item #bi 97006296#). Another useful bibliography is Himiob A.'s list of l,680 primary and secondary sources concerning Sucre (item #bi 97006264#). Two other books spawned by the Sucre bicentennial are especially notable: the first, Sucre, soldado y estadista (item #bi 97006280#), is a collection of well-researched conference papers originally presented in Quito by scholars representing the Gran Colombian nations, while the second, Juan José Flores en Berruecos (item #bi 96009724#) reviews the events leading to Sucre's assassination, concluding that Flores, not José María Obando, ordered his murder.

For the later 19th century, Chiriboga's reproduction and analysis of 64 photographs taken between 1860-1920 offers a striking visual record of indigenous people (item #bi 96009700#), while Imágenes e imagineros explores the construction of white-mestizo identity through an examination of the iconography of Sierra and Amazonian indigenous peoples (item #bi 96009720#). In another collaborative volume, Historia y region en el Ecuador: 1830-1930, seven scholars trace the history of Oriente, Cuenca, Quito, and Guayaquil provinces and examine the economic and political connections among them (item #bi 96009724#). Esvertit Cobes' account of the attempt by the governor of Oriente to colonize the upper Napo river in 1884 is a thoughtful study that illuminates Ecuador's frontier policies in the Amazon (item #bi 97008301#). Finally, for the liberal era (1895-1912), Ayala Mora's narrative synthesis based on his Oxford PhD dissertation should stand as the definitive work for some time (item #bi 97006303#), while Henderson's analysis of the government's collapse in 1925 challenges simplistic dependency theory explanations by stressing the domestic ramifications of the cocoa- dominated economy (item #bi 97013135#).

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