A Fervent Crusade for the National Soul

A Fervent Crusade for the National Soul

Cultural Politics in Colombia, 1930–1946

Catalina Muñoz


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A Fervent Crusade for the National Soul examines the implementation of cultural policies in relation to the contested configuration of citizenship in Colombia between 1930 and 1946. At a time when national identities were re-imagined all over the Americas, progressive artists and intellectuals affiliated with the liberal governments that ruled Colombia established an unprecedented bureaucratic apparatus for cultural intervention that celebrated so-called “popular culture” and rendered culture a social right. This book challenges pervasive narratives of state failure in Colombia, attending to the confrontations, negotiations, and entanglements of bureaucrats with everyday citizens that shaped the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Catalina Muñoz argues that while culture became an instrument of inclusion, the liberal definition of popular culture as authentic and static was also a tool for domination that reinforced enduring structures of inequality founded on region, race, and gender. Liberals crafted the state as the paternalistic protector of acquiescent citizens, instead of a warden of political participation. Muñoz suggests that this form of governance allowed the elites to rule without making the structural changes required to craft a more equal society.


Catalina Muñoz:

Catalina Muñoz is associate professor of history at Universidad de los Andes.