Lina del Castillo
’s book explores scientific, geographic, and historiographic inventions in nineteenth-century Colombia. In this fascinating book, well-known figures of Colombia’s history (such as Francisco José de Caldas, and José María Samper) are cast under new light, while unexplored institutions such as the Instituto Caldas and the Colegio Militar are analyzed in-depth and with striking clarity. By bringing such wide array of historical actors and institutions, del Castillo provides a nuanced historical narrative where liberal and conservative elites are not portrayed as ideological rivals, but as allies in the collective enterprise of republicanism, a project unrivaled at the time. But Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia
(University of Nebraska, 2018) is more timely and original in its analysis of colonial legacies. How, and to what purposes, were colonial legacies invented in Colombia during the nineteenth century? For del Castillo, ‘colonial legacies’ have been a powerful lens to interpret not just Colombian history, but Latin American history more generally. This way of understanding Latin America has portrayed the region as a static place shackled to the past by the pervasive legacies of Spanish colonialism. Ultimately, del Castillo invites us to reconsider not only the way we interpret Latin American history, but also how we understand the history of the United States, its relationship with British colonialism, and its ties with the history of Latin America and the Caribbean.