National Consciousness and Shared Americanism in Hero Formation: Representations of Andrés Bello in Nineteenth-Century Chile

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Bulletin of Spanish Studies


Built upon embryonic forms of nationalism from the colonial era, Chilean national consciousness following independence was shaped in part by distinct political, sociocultural, symbolic and semantic factors, and was tailored by a variety of contexts. Strides made in education, political initiatives, military battles and related celebrations, patriotic hymns, debates on historiography, language studies, national festivities, textual, verbal, plastic and visual representations served as outlets for the articulation of a developing nationalistic rhetoric that affected how the nation could be portrayed and perceived. As one of Chile’s most outstanding citizens, respected intellectuals and political and sociocultural contributors, Venezuelan Andrés Bello undoubtedly influenced his adopted country’s concept of nation during his lifetime. His efforts reciprocally helped to nurture his own favourable reconstruction in texts produced in the second half of the nineteenth century. By refuting the allegations that had marred his reputation in various historical accounts of his years in Caracas, or by simply omitting them and celebrating his accomplishments, representations of Bello published primarily in Chilean newspapers upon his death in 1865, during the centenary of his birth in 1881, and during his reburial under a new monument in 1898 acclaimed Bello for his many achievements and reinterpreted him as an emblematic figure of Chile, a prestigious model for Spanish America and the broader international community in general, and as a symbol of Spanish-American unity in times of potential conflict and turmoil. Such textual reconstructions coincided chronologically, and often thematically, with the outbreak of the Chincha Islands War, key Chilean successes in the War of the Pacific, and border disputes between Argentina and Chile.


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