Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Latin American History, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2000
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Latin American History, University of Florida
Black Republicanism and the Myth of Racial Democracy in Colombia, Cartagena 1808-1830

“We shall have Guinea and more Guinea…anyone with a white skin who escapes will be fortunate.” These words by the liberator Simon Bolivar were indicative of elite racial apprehensions during the Spanish American Wars of Independence (1808-1828). The Creole elite feared that the Independent struggles might unleash a race war, thus repeating the events which had only recently transformed the French colony of Saint Dominque into the free black nation of Haiti. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the Creole elite of Independent Colombia had not only erased the notion of racial war from the official rhetoric, it had also constructed a nearly seamless nationalist discourse of racial harmony. This crucial historical shift poses two questions, first, what were the political and social bases for elite racial fears? Second, what historical processes facilitated the displacement of the discourse of race war with a nationalist myth of racial harmony? My dissertation seeks to address these critical questions of national invention, first by examining the republican imagery of the Afro-Colombians who sided with the patriotic cause. In particular, I will ask whether the close links between Haiti and Colombia fostered the growth of a revolutionary black republican vision that challenged the political models of the Colombian white elite. Secondly, my research will examine the legal, cultural, and institutional mechanisms through which an official nationalist myth of racial harmony displaced the language of race war.