ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Rossana BarraganSubscribe to Rossana Barragan

The Spirit of Bolivian Modernity-Citizenship, Infamy and Patriarchal Hierarchy

Citizenship, Infamy and Patriarchal Hierarchy Rossana Barragan Though 'nation' emerged as a secular egalitarian community in the late 18th century European imagination, this project of modernity got vitiated when transplanted under colonial conditions in Latin America. By analysing the constitutions, civil criminal and military codes of the new republic of Bolivia, the article unearths that the juridical equality, the foundational ideology that marked the break-up of feudal society, and formed the basis of modernity and political independence in Latin American countries, was in fact not equal. Except for the mate elite, the essential structure was still difference and hierarchy, which seemed perfectly logical and consistent for the authors of the codes of equality, ON April 2,1831, the capitals of departments and provinces in Bolivia woke to the sound of cannons, announcing the reading of a presidential decree and the celebration of te deum masses in all the churches of the land.1 The newspaper published a poem to honour the sun-father and source of light, who had ripped away the veil of infernal darkness and brought wisdom inscribed in sacred books.2 That same day, "the most classical document of civilisation in the youngest of republics" was dedicated to a woman who was both wife and mother.3 These celebrations hailed the promulgation and publication of the civil and criminal codes and the code of procedure in 1831 and 1832.4 The father, hero and philosopher who ruled with the sun and dedicated his works to the love and care of a woman's heart was none other than president Andres de Santa Cruz. His wife, Francisca Cernadas, celebrated her birthday that same day, and received the codes in her safe-keeping, recalling the manner in which Napoleon had paid homage to his wife the empress Josephine.5 Four features stand out in this ceremonial presentation of the codes. First, the codes were regarded as sacred books, like the Bible. Second, the philosopher-hero, embodiment of reason and civic religion, incarnated as the sun-father, illuminates the darkness and inaugurates civilisation and an end to barbarism. Third, the product of male reason is given as tribute to the mythical hero's wife who cradles justice in her lap and offers compassion. Last, a resounding parallel is suggested between the new republic and the cradle of enlightenment: France.

Back to Top