The Terms of Engagement and Belonging in Colombia’s Long 1930s and 1940s

AHA Session 212
Conference on Latin American History 56
Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Ontario Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, Brock University

Session Abstract

In their most recent scholarly works historians of Colombia who participate in this panel have helped recovering the warp and woof of the 1930s and 1940s by offering micro-historical analises that complement political and economic interpretations which prevailed until recently. Their inquiry into these two decades confirmed that in order to understand some of the processes that are most distinctive of this period, scholars need to open it up to the decades that preceded and followed the period, as well as develop understandings of how the actions of key historical actors belonged in larger communities and networks. Muñoz examines cultural policies related to music programs that were aimed at producing a unified national community and the tension there is between government-driven processes across the ideological spectrum and popular practices. Sánchez examines female authored periodicals between 1943 and 1965 to discuss women’s engagement in economic uplift and their active membership in a deliberative community concerned with women’s role in a period of profound transformation. These female author publications are a window into the interaction between local and transnational products and practices. Finally, Williford discusses mass marches and rallies in the 1930s to delve deeper into issues of loyalty and opposition and how they are tied up to questions of belonging in a larger purpose and communities, and the extent to which they contained the emotional charge that would materialize later in widespread political violence starting in the late 1940s. The examples they provide allow us to delve deeper into the terms of engagement and belonging they initially encountered in the archives. In so doing they take further their critique of prevailing political and economic accounts that portray Colombian society as polarized along ideological lines, divided into rural/urban spaces, inwardly looking as a result of years of nationalist agendas. From this we can start thinking about this period as the long 1903s and 1940s. This session will be of interest to cultural historians, scholars who are reexamining traditional national periodizations and historiographies, students of grassroots movements and cultural politics, and women’s participation in processes of modernization.

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