Nationalism, Hispanismo, and Anti-Pan-Americanism in Colombia, 1934–54

Friday, January 6, 2017: 9:30 AM
Room 201 (Colorado Convention Center)
Luis Herran Avila, The New School
This paper analyzes the interwar and early Cold War debates amongst Colombian conservative politicians and intellectuals who, like others throughout the continent, sought to rethink the meanings and goals of nationalism by linking domestic developments with global events, by formulating ideas of continental solidarity rooted in anti-Americanism, and by scorning liberal democracy, social reform and modernity at large.

The paper takes on the writings and public life of Laureano Gomez, the most important figure of 20th century Conservatism in Colombia. Gómez was an fierce and polemical orator and attentive commentator on Latin American culture, foreign relations and world politics. In addressing Gómez's version of "conservatism as nationalism" and by placing his figure in the “nationalist constellation” of mid-twentieth century Latin America, this paper argues that, in attempting a reading of Colombian reality that had local, regional and global points of reference, statesmen and intellectuals like Gomez established internal and external dialogues on conservatism as the natural carrier of “national” aims. Thus, the paper looks at the exchanges between the national and the transnational in shaping Colombian conservative nationalism, by exploring its ideas of cultural unity against US influence; its strong “spiritual” connection to Spain (and thus, to the Franco regime); its symptomatic take on the politics of revolution and counterrevolution in Colombia and elsewhere; its views on communism before and after the Cold War; and the professed role of faith and tradition in making sense of a changing world.

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