The nature and role of public education in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America provide opportunities to observe and explain the relationship that weaved together education and the formation of the nation. The papers on this panel use a transnational perspective to discuss educational ideas as an integral component of the Latin American nation-state. This methodological approach affords the papers the opportunity to engage in debates on nationalism and identity within the local communities while recognizing the global influence of these national discussions. In each of the papers, the authors go beyond the cases of Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, to explain and place their discussions within a global context of international networks.
South American political elites borrowed from the plethora of education ideas circulating in the Atlantic World to shape their country’s national character. When building their new state-sponsored educational systems, South American intellectual and political elites drew inspiration and substance from foreign models, especially those from the United States. Yet, the authors of these papers show that Latin American policy-makers did not merely import foreign concepts, but tailored them to local conditions and their nationalistic expectations.
M Carolina Zumaglini analyzes the exchange of ideas that led to the creation of the public school system as an integral component of the nation-state in the neighboring countries of Argentina and Uruguay. By combining both, public intellectual’s ideological discussions and families’ everyday interactions, with state-sponsored educational institutions she reveals how the public sphere and educational ideas were enacted in the home and school. Using Buenos Aires and Montevideo as case studies, she demonstrates how local conditions—ranging from the structure of local and national administration, distinctive notions of gender, religion, and elites’ ideas about the “national character”— shaped the actual scale and structure of education programs, and, in turn, their significance to the emerging nation-state. Jesse Hingson discusses how the Argentine educator and politician Domingo Sarmiento’s recruited US teachers who later interacted with interior communities in his home country. By doing so, these teachers integrated their educational methodology to provincial social and political conditions. Using their experiences, he emphasizes the values these teachers brought with them and how they interacted with one another and their new communities. Finally, Matthias vom Hau challenges the claim that the commemoration of wars in Latin America are of little importance. Employing a comparative content analysis of history textbooks published in twentieth-century Mexico, Argentina, and Peru, he demonstrates that the commemoration of international wars was central to official accounts of national history. State-sponsored historical narratives represented especially lost wars with neighboring countries as crucial to understand contemporary political and socioeconomic developments. He explains that these historical narratives in the defeated countries after wars between neighboring countries are crucial to understanding contemporary political and socioeconomic developments. Furthermore, he places textbooks and war representations within global models of commemoration.