In her article "Nation Building, Utopia, and the Latin American Writer/Intellectual," María Odette Canivell discusses the role of utopia in the foundational myths of Latin American cities and its nations. Nation building, in Latin America, Canivell claims, is tied to European myths regarding the New World, as well as to the function of writers' (escribidores) and intellectuals' (letrados) re-formulation of these myths along with their own desires/dreams as to what the ideal of Latin America means. Escribadores and letradas, who make history while re-writing the story/history of their nations, have a direct effect on the policy making and construction of the nations they represent. They are, simultaneously, actors in the epic building and/or re-building of their countries and story tellers and narrators in the texts they write/construct. Their involvement in politics is a product of the instability of the institutions in their lands, as well as they represent a legacy of a long-standing tradition in Latin American politics and in the cultural landscape of the region. Because of their dual function, policy makers and story tellers, an inherent paradox is implicit: literature as an instrument of change carries forward the desire for a construction of a "new world" which is formulated utopian. Utopias, however, are destroyed in the process of their implementation; predictably, Latin American utopias have become annihilated by the same process which allows their formulation. Furthermore, as these utopias are forged in the European ideals of harmony, unity, and order brought to the New World by European colonists, they become unattainable goals from the moment of conception. Latin America has been founded in the dreams and desires of European minds which conceived the idea of an ideal continent and tried to tame its cities and nations into a semblance of what their myths and desires had conceived.
Canivell, María Odette
"Nation Building, Utopia, and the Latin American Writer/Intellectual."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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