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CAL 102: Latin American Bicentennials: Official Politics and New Voices in the Public Festivities

Call for Papers

Dossier: “Latin American Bicentennials: Official Politics and New Voices in the Public Festivities

Coordinator: Pablo Ortemberg (IIP, CONICET/UNSAM)

The study of national festivals has produced an ample bibliographical tradition encompassing multiple disciplines, such as history, anthropology, cultural sociology, art history and communication sciences. Cultural history, at the crossroads with political history, developed over the past fifty years a particularly fruitful current of studies (for example, the three emblematic works on revolutionary festivals in France published in 1976 by M. Ozouf, M. Vovelle and R. Sanson). In Latin American history these celebrations are receiving growing attention, with some works focused on comparison and connection, especially at the time of the independence revolutions and the formative stages of the national states. Also interdisciplinary in its origins, this type of studies fostered debates around issues such as the relationship between collective memory and commemoration; regimes of historicity and uses of the past; and celebration, political legitimacy, and the construction of identity.

Research on the Latin American Centennial festivities celebrated in the first decades of the 20th century produced an abundant literature in which the variety of approaches stands out even more, although the analysis of the national case continues to prevail over the comparative aspiration. Historians of ideas and of intellectuals studied these events as key moments in the crystallization of national identity discourses and thought (for instance, the so-called "generations of the Centenaries"). Art historians conceived of them as milestones in the shaping of national artistic fields, while cultural historians emphasized, for example, the relationship between the imaginary of progress and urban modernization—an approach is linked to the growing line of research on international fairs and major exhibitions. Scholars are currently developing studies that especially consider connections and the circulation of people, ideas, and projects among different Centennials in the Iberian-American countries. Particularly in the cases of Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, there are studies that pay attention to the place assigned to Indigenous and Afro-descendant populations in official discourses.

Patriotic bicentennials celebrated in the 21st century have received less attention than centennials. This is partly because only a decade has passed since the first wave, which began with the commemorations of Bolivia and Ecuador in 2009, followed by those of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico in 2010, and those of Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, which concluded in 2011. At present, tragically marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are going through the second wave of commemorations, with the Bicentennial of the Independence of Peru, of the "Consummation" of Independence in Mexico, of the Independence of Central America and that of Colombia—the Constitution of Cúcuta—in 2021. At the same time, preparations are underway for the Bicentennial of Brazil's Independence in 2022. A final wave will follow with the Bicentennial of the Battle of Ayacucho in 2024 and of the Independence of Bolivia in 2025. So far, the Bicentennials have been analyzed by taking up questions and problems from previous agendas (forms of intervention in the public space, uses of the past, publishing projects, among other issues). But they also reflect an increasing concern for comparisons and, above all, an interest in the modes of participation of groups, traditionally marginalized, excluded or "domesticated" in different ways by the canonical narratives of the nation: native peoples, Afro-descendant groups, women, and sexual dissidences.

Issues of ethnicity and otherness in Latin American bicentennial celebrations have been addressed in recent research from a legal, historical, and artistic perspective, paying attention both to the initiatives by those subaltern groups and to those of the government cadres in charge of designing the official commemorations. It is important to note that in recent decades, in addition to Indigenous and Afro-descendant activism, feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) movements have become increasingly prominent in the Latin American scene. The literature studying the wave of center-left governments in the region between 2000 and 2016 has highlighted the political participation and advocacy of these groups, as well as the unprecedented progress in the recognition of new social, political, and cultural rights. However, although these collectives are inscribed in a political field of antagonisms where ideas and representations of the national are disputed, the systematic study of their forms of participation in national celebrations is still incipient. These celebrations, where the political community puts itself on stage and publicly defines its contours, are an interesting viewpoint to observe the transformations of this "we," always in conflict. In addition to underlining the relevance of studying this largely unresolved issue, we also recognize the importance of the comparative approach, to find similarities and differences - and forms of articulation - on a local, national, and international scale.

Based on these conflicts and processes, the dossier calls for the submission of original articles that analyze celebrations of Latin American Bicentennials from the perspective of the relationship between governmental commemorative policies and the participation of traditionally marginalized social groups: Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women's movements, and sexual dissidents. Special consideration will be given to those works that make a comparison between countries on the proposed axis. The dossier aims to ensure that the diversity of cases is as representative as possible of the Latin American region as a whole. The papers will be peer-reviewed using a double-blind system.

Receipt of articles:

Deadline for submissions: June 01, 2022

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