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Entangled Roots: Race, Historical Literature, and Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century Americas

  • Author(s): Genova, Thomas Francis
  • Advisor(s): Klahn, Norma
  • et al.


Thomas Genova

Entangled Roots: Race, Historical Literature, and Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century Americas

This dissertation examines in the transnational conversation on the place of Afro-descendants in the republican nation-state that ocurred in New-World historical literature during the nineteenth century. Tracing the evolution of republican thought in the Americas from the classical liberalism of the independence period to the more democratic forms of government that took hold in the late 1800s, the pages that follow will chart the circulation of ideas regarding race and republican citizenship in the Atlantic World during the long nineteenth century, the changes that those ideas undergo as they circulate, and the racialized tensions that surface as they move between and among Europe and various locations throughout the Americas.

Focusing on a diverse group of writers --including the anonymous Cuban author of Jicoténcal; the North Americans Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, and Mary Mann; the Argentines Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Eduarda Mansilla de García; the Dominican Manuel de Jesús Galván; the Haitian Émile Nau; and the Brazilian Euclides da Cunha--, I argue that --in the extended Caribbean, the Southern Cone, and the North American empire--, letrado members of the lettered elite were entangled in a hemispheric dialogue on the place of Afro-descendants in the body politic as they looked abroad to countries in similar post-independence situations for models of how to adopt republican forms to racialized New-World society. In dialogue with one another, letrados from across the Hemisphere turn towards the region's shared history of conquest, colonization and inter-ethnic conflict in order to elaborate a political philosophy to meet the particular structural needs of the Americas. Looking into the past from the vantage of the present, nineteent-century letrados collectively attempted to imagine a future community in which creole hegemony would be preserved.

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