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Barbarism

PETER BAKER

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Extract

“Barbarism” is a term that is impossible to separate, historically speaking, from the development of European modernity and colonialism widely defined. Rather than attempting to give a broad definition of the term, which is laden with problems and internal contradictions, it is instead more appropriate to identify general trends, continuities, and discontinuities in its use in relation to the material practices of power in the Latin American postcolonial context. Broadly speaking, one can claim that barbarism represents a rhetorical figure, which is functional to the historicism that is particular to the culturally hegemonic power blocs within Latin America as they shift throughout time. There are two overarching paradigmatic shifts of historical power blocs in this respect. The first, which emerges in the years following the wars of independence, is that of a criollo -liberal elite, which constructs the Latin American geopolitical space as an imaginary struggle between civilization and barbarism. The second, which witnesses the emergence of national popular governments across Latin America in the early twentieth century, is based on a social and political imaginary of unified preconquest roots, recycling the image of the noble savage from the colonial imaginary, which grounds and interpellates a popular political base. More recently, however, the historicism of these perspectives ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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