In trod uction
As the proverb says, "getting started is half the battle," and a good
beginning we all applaud. But in my view a good start is more than
"half," and no one has yet given it the praise it deserves.
-PLATO,
The Laws
Riddles and Cases
During the eighteenth century, concepts such as "nation" and "nation-
alism" became part of Europeans' everyday political jargon. Whether
nationalism stemmed from deep structural changes, self-conscious po-
liticalideologies, or-as Benedict R. Anderson (1983 :7) has suggested-
a cultural (and imagined) "deep horizontal notion of comradeship,"
sovereign nations started to become the norm while dynastic empires
and monarchical institutions became the exception. In nineteenth-
century Latin America, state makers were frantically at work. They de-
signed republican institutions, elaborated on the concurrent notions of
common citizenship and popular sovereignty, tried to centralize power,
and created, along the way, a different ladder of social stratification
responding to new notions of civil society and societal discipline. Their
degree of success varied. The final product differed, in some cases
radically, from the ideas and the political practices of the first gen-
erations of state makers. In other cases, the final outcome bore some
resemblance to the original design. But in no case did the political
institutions of the nations emerging in the early twentieth century re-
main similar to either the colonial period or the republicanism that
triggered independence.
If we were to conceive of the process of nation building studied in this
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