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Title: Cultural transactions between Europe and Spanish America : fin-­de-­siècle debates on the concept of degeneration
Author: Coletta, M.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis addresses the self-­perception and self-representation of Spanish America as being modern through an analysis of the 'discourse of degeneration' between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. My case studies are Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. I analyze the ways in which different groups of intellectuals, often from within the political elites, contributed to the creation of social and cultural representations of the concept of degeneration in order to forge a new paradigm of Spanish America as being modern. The overarching theme that I engage with is the relationship between civilization and degeneration against the backdrop of the more general theory of modernity. Even in the European context, from which most theories are drawn, the highly ambiguous relationship between progress and decadence, whereby the former was often perceived as engendering the latter, forces one to reframe any dichotomic approaches. This ambiguity, I argue, becomes all the more evident in the context of Latin America, where cultural modernism foreshadowed economic modernization. Each of the four chapters deals with a specific theme. The notion of the decadence of the 'Latin race' is addressed in chapter 1 in relation to representations of the immigrant, while chapter 2 looks at the rhetorical incorporation of the 'internal other' to further reinforce modernity discourses in the region. In chapter 3 I analyze the debate around education as a regenerationist force. Finally, the last chapter explores the impact of ideas of degenerate art in the region and the role of arielismo in favouring the development of a new aesthetic project that challenged the late-­nineteenth-­century 'poetics of decadence'. A new idea of Latin America was thus based on the centrality of the notion of 'culture', which would remain essential to identity discourses for most of the twentieth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available