Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Creole travellers in the Europe of the 19th century.Education as topos within Latin-American post-colonial emancipation
Lilli Riettienes

Última modificación: 2017-07-16



In my doctoral dissertation, I am outlining the significance of education during the Latin-American post-colonial emancipation. This shall be accomplished by showing the importance of the topos of education in Creole texts, which reflect the complex process of emancipation on the Latin-American continent as a whole.


After centuries under European colonization,  the (Latin-)American continent gave rise to national states which contended for autonomy in the 19th century. However, over the course of this prolonged colonization, a complex arrangement of sentiments of belonging had developed, affecting the formation of new nations. On the one hand, the hierarchic structure of the newly formed nations was based on the criteria of European ancestry or the lack thereof. On the other hand, the so-called ›national identities‹ – as more than merely ›Non-European‹ – had to be determined. In this context, the Creoles played a particularly significant role during the 19th and early 20th century. As descendants of white Europeans living in Latin America, they were located in an ›In-Between‹ of ›motherland‹ and colony, whereby perpetual efforts for belonging emerged. The gravitational force of Europe positioned the Creole upper-class in an interspace between centre and periphery. The resulting diremption became amongst others apparent in ›Creole writing‹ which can, therefore, be characterized as a »Writing-between-Worlds« (Ette 2016).

In light of this, my doctoral thesis focuses on travelogues, written by Creole travellers during their journey from Latin America to Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. In order to determine the Creole efforts to establish ›national identies‹ and to position themselves within this complex arrangement, travelogues are insightful sources because the travellers experienced transcultural settings. Initial investigations revealed that, during the journeys, the division into ›foreign‹ and ›own‹ frequently oscillated depending on context, situation and addressee.

With the Latin-American emancipation from colonization still in its infancy, Creole travellers played a decisive role in the emancipation processes by trying to locate Latin America in the world. Furthermore, many travellers took part in debates about how to modernize Latin-American societies, citing observed European social structures as ›good examples‹ to strive for.

In this context, education formed an important topos within the travelogues and was debated as a »key instrument in the formation of new and emancipated citizens« (cf. Cfp ISCHE 39) in two respects: first, at a structural/institutional level, in the meaning of education referring to European knowledge institutions and pedagogical concepts that ›the Latinamericans‹ should – or should not – import. Second, at a personal level, referring to a means to enable emancipation – e.g. for women. With this second understanding of education, Maipina de la Barra, a member of the Creole upper-class in the Chile of the 19th century, demands that Latin-American societies adopt the way Europeans value and educate women. In her opinion, the ›barbarism‹ of Latin-American societies manifested itself in their ignorance of the social importance of women. In contrast, European Nations, according to de la Barra, were aware of the positive impact of educating women. This example shows the interconnections between education and questions of gender and subject formations in the travelouges.

As a speaker at the 39thInternational Standing Conference for the History of Education,I would be honoured to deliver insight into these largely unedited travelogues with a focus on education as a major contributor to the Latin-American post-colonial emancipation.