Divergent Modernities

Culture and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

Divergent Modernities

Post-Contemporary Interventions

More about this series

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: Published: June 2001

Author: Julio Ramos

Translator: John D. Blanco

Contributor: José David Saldívar

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Latin American Studies

With a Foreword by José David Saldívar

Since its first publication in Spanish nearly a decade ago, Julio Ramos’s Desenucuentros de la modernidad en America Latina por el siglo XIX has been recognized as one of the most important studies of modernity in the western hemisphere. Available for the first time in English—and now published with new material—Ramos’s study not only offers an analysis of the complex relationships between history, literature, and nation-building in the modern Latin American context but also takes crucial steps toward the development of a truly comparative inter-American cultural criticism.
With his focus on the nineteenth century, Ramos begins his genealogy of an emerging Latin Americanism with an examination of Argentinean Domingo Sarmiento and Chilean Andrés Bello, representing the “enlightened letrados” of tradition. In contrast to these “lettered men,” he turns to Cuban journalist, revolutionary, and poet José Martí, who, Ramos suggests, inaugurated a new kind of intellectual subject for the Americas. Though tracing Latin American modernity in general, it is the analysis of Martí—particularly his work in the United States—that becomes the focal point of Ramos’s study. Martí’s confrontation with the unequal modernization of the New World, the dependent status of Latin America, and the contrast between Latin America’s culture of elites and the northern mass culture of commodification are, for Ramos, key elements in understanding the complex Latin American experience of modernity.
Including two new chapters written for this edition, as well as translations of three of Martí’s most important works, Divergent Modernities will be indispensable for anyone seeking to understand development and modernity across the Americas.


“[A] beautiful work of translation that admirably renders Ramos’s complex, mobile prose in clear and elegant English . . . . This is a publication to be received with enthusiasm, for the English reader now has access to what is arguably the most sophisticated reflection ever devoted to nineteenth-century Latin American literature. The field of Latin American criticism has not been the same since the publication of the original Spanish volume, and there is reason to believe that U.S. Latin Americanism—along with Latino studies, border studies, and other neighboring fields—will now profit immensely from the wide avenues of research opened up by this remarkable work. In a word, this is a book that, in spite of having been turned into a disciplinary classic by so many of us, has lost none of the unsettling, revolutionary freshness it displayed twelve years ago.” — Idelber Avelar , Nepantla

“[N]ow for the first time, this important study of modernity is translated into English. Ramos’s genealogy traces the emergence of Latin American subjectivity from the nineteenth through the twentieth century. In readings of Argentinean Domingo Sarmiento, Chilean Andrés Bello, and Cuban José Martí, he examines unequal modernization in the Americas, cultural divides in Latin America, and the region’s dependence on other nations. This edition includes two new chapters and translations of three of José Martí’s most important texts.” — American Literature

“[Ramos’s] careful exploration of the encounter between Latin American nineteenth-century thinkers and literati and the idea of modernity should prove informative and stimulating to all students of Latin American intellectual history.” — Benjamin Keen , H-Net Reviews

“Since its first publication in Spanish nearly a decade ago, Divergent Modernities has been recognized as one of the most important studies of modernity in the Western Hemisphere.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

“Solid, erudite translation; helpful notes. Recommended . . . .” — M. V. Ekstrom , Choice

"[A] timely and valuable translation. . . . [A]n essential source for any scholar pursuing a greater understanding of Latin American cultural paradigms. Specialists of subaltern and postcolonial studies, even outside of Latin American interests, will find much useful material here. . . . Ramos's grasp of the many intersecting impulses underlying the drive toward new and 'authentic' means of representing Latin American reality is as enlightening as it is impressive." — Todd S. Garth, Intertexts

"[T]here is reason to celebrate the English translation of Julio Ramos’s brilliant contribution to the field of nineteenth-century Latin American cultural criticism. . . . [G]roundbreaking. . . . [E]legantly translated. . . . [There are] many reasons for admiring this important book."

— Diana Sorensen , Hispanic American Historical Review

“What makes Divergent Modernities unique are not only its many subtle textual analyses, but also the effectiveness with which Ramos lends his unmatched mastery of the historical context of Latin America’s encounter with modernity to illuminate in original and important ways the process of literary creation itself.” — Tulio Halperín Donghi, author of The Contemporary History of Latin America

“With an innovative approach to the foundational intellectuals of Latin American modernity, Julio Ramos contributes to a rethinking of the intersections that constitute Latinoamericanismo of the twentieth century.” — Nestor G. Canclini, author of Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Julio Ramos is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California at Berkeley.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Translator’s Preface

Foreword / José David Saldívar


Part I.

1. The Other’s Knowledge: Writing and Orality in Sarmiento’s Facundo

2. Knowledge-(as)-Said: Language and Politics in Andrés Bello

3. Fragmentation of the Republic of Letters

4. Limits of Autonomy: Journalism and Literature

5. Decorating the City: The Chronicle and Urban Experience

Part II.

Introduction: Martí and His Journey to the United States

6. Machinations: Literature and Technology

7. “This Cardboard Tabloid Life”: Literature and the Masses

8. Culturalism and Latinoamericanismo

9. “Nuestra América”: The Art of Good Governance

10. The Repose of Heroes: On Poetry and War in José Martí

11. Migratories


Translations of Three Texts by José Martí

Appendix 1 / Our America

Appendix 2 / Prologue to Poema del Niágara

Appendix 3 / Coney Island

Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1990-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1981-8
Publicity material