From Las Casas to Che : An Introduction to Contemporary Latin America

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Spanish America is a geographical area within which the power struggle between archaic and modern traits stands out very clearly. The reason for this might be found in the significant initial historical distance between the society of the Europeans and the society of the Indians. For this reason, it is very difficult to comprehend the history of ideas of this area, if one disregards the dialectics of modernity and archaicity. This dialectics was at an early stage formulated in a classical work by the Argentinean Domingo Sarmiento (Facundo, 1845) as a power struggle between civilisation and barbarism.
The opposition between modernity and archaicity generated yet another historical equation that controls the main patterns in the Latin American history of ideas: the fact that the individual freedom increases at the expense of the independence of the collective, and vice versa.
Archaisms and modernities have taken the form of oppositions such as that between Indian and European culture, between European colonial thought and revolutionary nationalistic thought, between conservative and liberal thought, between scholastic and modern phi-losophy, between provincial culture and urban culture, etc. Sarmiento’s conception of Spanish Latin America as barbaric has in the 20th century found new expressions in the works of writers such as Jorge Luis Bor-ges and his, by Anglo-Saxon culture inspired, literature. On the other hand, we have an archaically inspired philosophical thought, in which the nation is located at the centre, which has gained much space within political thought after the war of independence.


  • Fernando Flores
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Ideas


  • History of Ideas, Latin America, Las Casas
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLund University
Number of pages189
ISBN (Print)978–91–633–1106–2
StatePublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

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