IN SEARCH OF IDENTITY: THE PLACE OF SPACE, (PROTO)RACE AND IDEOLOGY IN COLONIAL AND POST-COLONIAL HONDURAS
Lara, Jose Isaac
The objective of this study is to identify and explain the different processes and discursive practices that constructed the national character and identity of the Honduran people. Through a diachronic analysis of Honduras from its colonial period to the early 20th century, I discuss the multiple types of fragmentations --territorial, political, economic, identitary -- that were produced by the colonial powers as well as the post-Independence governing body who dismantled established colonial structures and replaced them with newly constituted ones. I argue that at the crux of this second period of configuration was the elaboration of an official history and national identity based on a common Indo-Hispanic past and rejection of an Afro-mestizo heritage.The project is composed of two major parts: one is a detailed and multidisciplinary reconstruction of the development of a multi-racial and pluri-cultural society in order to demonstrate that Honduras was and continues to be the site of a dynamic mestizaje of African, European and Indigenous populations and customs. This is accomplished through the analysis of parish records and censuses of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century. The second part of my research is an exploration of the various processes and discursive practices by which this independent territory began construct its national identity. Essential to the formation of the Honduran nation was the recovery and transformation of two icons from its past into national symbols: Copán, the great Pre-Colombian Mayan city; and Lempira, a 16th century indigenous cacique who opposed Spanish Conquest. I explain how and why numerous manifestations or expressions of these two icons were created, their relation to the scientific racial discourses prevalent in Latin America during the 19th and early 20th century, and why the State supported them since the late 19th century.
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