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Civilization and Violence

Regimes of Representation in Nineteenth-Century Colombia

2001
Author:

Maria Cristina Rojas
Foreword by Michael J. Shapiro

Civilization and Violence

Offers a new way of understanding the relationship between violence and the formation of foundational myths.

Civilization and violence are not necessarily the antagonists we presume-with civilization taming violence, and violence unmaking civilization. Focusing on postindependence Colombia, this book brings to light the ways in which violence and civilization actually intertwined and reinforced each other in the development of postcolonial capitalism.

Novel and stimulating. Rojas offers a new way of understanding the relationship between violence and the formation of foundational myths.

Larry George, Professor of Political Science and Director of the International Studies Program, California State University, Long Beach

Civilization and violence are not necessarily the antagonists we presume-with civilization taming violence, and violence unmaking civilization. Focusing on postindependence Colombia, this book brings to light the ways in which violence and civilization actually intertwined and reinforced each other in the development of postcolonial capitalism.

The narratives of civilization and violence, Cristina Rojas contends, play key roles in the formation of racial, gender, and class identities; they also provide pivotal logic to both the formation of the nation and the processes of capitalist development. During the Liberal era of Colombian history (1849-1878), a dominant creole elite enforced a "will to civilization" that sought to create a new world in its own image. Rojas explores different arenas in which this pursuit meant the violent imposition of white, liberal, laissez-faire capitalism. Drawing on a wide range of social theory, Rojas develops a new way of understanding the relationship between violence and the formation of national identity-not just in the history of Colombia, but also in the broader narratives of civilization.

Civilization and Violence

Cristina Rojas teaches Latin American politics and international political economy at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Civilization and Violence

Novel and stimulating. Rojas offers a new way of understanding the relationship between violence and the formation of foundational myths.

Larry George, Professor of Political Science and Director of the International Studies Program, California State University, Long Beach

This wonderful book accomplishes a number of important scholarly feats by weaving together critical theories of violence in politics, psychoanalysis, anthropology, and postcolonial theory. By taking Colombia as representative example, it shows at once the constitutive links between civilization, capitalism, and violence and the dire need to revamp political economy to include the analysis of meanings and representations. Going well beyond the Colombian case, the book draws powerful implications for the analysis of growing forms of global violence linked to intolerance and the denial of difference: if representational violence has been intrinsic to modernity, only a profound soul-searching and complete overhauling of the dominant regimes of representation can lead to a lessening of antagonisms and might finally bring about the conditions for an acceptable interculturality.

Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Refreshing and commendable. Rojas provides an illuminating perspective on mid-nineteenth century Colombia.

Journal of Latin American Studies

Lucidly written. One of the book’s best features is Rojas’s use of writing from the period, which she quotes at length, allowing readers to follow her arguments on modernization projects, women’s self-perception, and the identity of people of color.

Choice

Civilization and Violence

Contents

Foreword Michael J. Shapiro
Acknowledgments

Introduction: Civilization as History

1. The Will to Civilization
2. Civilization and Violence
3. The Political Economy of Civilization
4. The Subalterns’ Voices
5. The Will to Civilization and Its Encounter with Laissez-Faire
6. Representation, Violence, and the Uneven Development of Capitalism

Conclusion: Civilizations—Clash or Desire?

Notes

Index