D
id American republican modernity matter? Certainly, I would argue we
cannot understand nineteenth- century Latin American history with-
out taking into account the political and cultural moment that American
republican modernity represented. However, I contend that American re-
publican modernity affected more than the decades in which it was dom-
inant. Although the most obvious site of subalterns’ struggles to improve
their lives would shift from citizenship to labor activism, the power of citi-
zenship would continually reemerge throughout the twentieth century and
into the twenty- first. Indeed, much of the inclusionary impulses of early
twentieth- century populist movements—anti- imperial national histories,
celebrations of the popular over the elite, and formulations of mestizaje
and antiracism—echoed currents of the nineteenth century.1 Beyond Latin
America, American republican modernity demands a reconsideration of the
general history of world democracy. Latin America is usually consigned to
just a footnote in this story, but nineteenth- century experiences call into
doubt the claims of the West to have invented democracy. Finally, consid-
ering Latin Americans’ wrestling with modernity in the past allows us to
understand our own contemporary preoccupations with the relationship of
modernity, democracy, and capitalism.
conclusion
A “Gift That the New World Has Sent Us”
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