First-class, a pleasure to read. The Conquest of History openly challenges recent studies on memory and historiography in Spanish nation-building, which have managed to ignore the colonial dimensions of the nation; it contributes to current scholarship on nations as imagined communities and to the field of postcolonial studies; finally, it sheds light on the origins of the discourse on 'mestizaje.' Filled with fresh insights, this book is an important contribution to the fields of cultural history, nation-building studies, and Atlantic (and Filipino) history.
As Spain rebuilt its colonial regime in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines after the Spanish American revolutions, it turned to history to justify continued dominance. The metropolitan vision of history, however, always met with opposition in the colonies.
The Conquest of History examines how historians, officials, and civic groups in Spain and its colonies forged national histories out of the ruins and relics of the imperial past. By exploring controversies over the veracity of the Black Legend, the location of Christopher Columbus’s mortal remains, and the survival of indigenous cultures, Christopher Schmidt-Nowara’s richly documented study shows how history became implicated in the struggles over empire. It also considers how these approaches to the past, whether intended to defend or to criticize colonial rule, called into being new postcolonial histories of empire and of nations.
A major contribution to our understanding of the relation between history and nationalism in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. It is a global history in the best sense, not a random comparison, but a connected history.
Schmidt-Nowara engagingly examines different ways Spanish intellectuals approached their country's colonial experience and the often antithetical arguments made by intellectuals in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Well written and documented, this study is valuable for historians of ideas and the writing of history, as well as historians of Spain and Spanish America. Highly recommended.
Schmidt-Nowara's excellent and persuasively argued book pushes the limits of empire studies, particularly through the examination of nation-building outside of a nationalist context. Fundamentally, this is a study of the art of interpretation and a clear example of the ways that textual and discourse analysis are ideological arms in the battle for the control over recounting the past. This book is essential for anyone interested in empire studies, comparative colonial studies, or the literature and culture of the Spanish, Philippine, or Antillean nineteenth century.
A commendable piece of scholarship which argues something genuinely new by mixing an impressively broad canvas and a fascinating wealth of detail. An elegant, rich and convincing argument for a need to reappraise a neglected period and occasionally misunderstood processes.
Innovative, thought-provoking and already indispensable.
Succeeds in approaching history from both a metropolitan and a colonial perspective, not privileging either. The result is a rich analysis that demonstrates the centrality of the colonial experience to the development of national identities in both metropolis and colony.
Christopher Schmidt-Nowara is associate professor of history at Fordham University. He is the author of Empire and Antislavery: Spain, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, 1833-1874 and coeditor, with John Nieto-Phillips, of Interpreting Spanish Colonialism: Empires, Nations, and Legends.