What is Latin about Latin America?
Elite Culture, History, and the Making of a Continental Identity

A Public Symposium

Saturday, 21 May 2016, 1:30pm
University College London
Institute of Advanced Studies Common Ground
Wilkins Building
Gower Street, London

Why are the diverse modern nations created from the overthrow of Iberian rule in the Americas known as “Latin” America? Historians of Europe argue that the French coined the term to justify neo-imperialist interventions, most notably their notorious installation of a Habsburg Emperor, Maximilian, in Mexico during the 1860s. Historians of Latin America have countered that it was invented earlier by Spanish American intellectuals, as a rallying point for unity against the emerging threat of “Anglo-America”. Some postcolonial scholars have argued that it was deployed by ruling creoles specifically to marginalise other sectors of the population. There are also contemporary debates about whether Brazil is or is not part of Latin America. In all of this discussion, little attention has been paid to the multiple references to the European classical world that appear in the art, architecture, literature, history, politics and public spaces of the Iberian Americas. There is also a long history of scholarship by both indigenous and creole intellectuals situating the history of the region within a comparative framework based on the European classical civilisations. This symposium is an opportunity to explore the significance of European classical antiquity in the history and culture of the Americas, and to debate what it might mean for our understanding of the idea of civilization.

There will be two parts to the afternoon. The first panel, The Invention of Latin America, will focus on ways the first modern Republics found non-colonial analogues and precedents in re-imaginings of European classical antiquity. The second, Latin America as magna patria, will explore the early twentieth-century emergence of a regional collective identity alongside the consolidation of national identities.


2-3.45  The Invention of Latin America

Chair: Rosa Andújar

Speakers:  Andrew Laird, Desirée Arbo, Edward Shawcross, Robert Conn, Jorge Cañizares Esguerra

3.45-4  Tea/coffee

4-5.30  Latin America as Magna Patria

Chair: Andrew Laird

Speakers: Elina Miranda, Rosa Andújar, Nicola Miller, Felipe Fernández Armesto

5.30 Wine Reception

The event is free, but registration is required. To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/1T215zq

Should you have any questions, please contact the organisers: Rosa Andújar, (r.andujar@ucl.ac.uk), Andrew Laird (Andrew.Laird@warwick.ac.uk), and Nicola Miller (nicola.miller@ucl.ac.uk)

The organisers are grateful to the UCL Centre for Research on the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) and the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies for their generous support.