Internal wars and Latin American nationalism

Miguel Angel Centeno, Jose Miguel Cruz, Rene Flores, Gustavo Silva Cano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


During several months in 2010, a very peculiar story dominated global news, culminating in 24-hour coverage October 12-14. Trapped for several months and at one point presumed dead, 33 Chilean miners were rescued on global TV. The narrative arc of the rescue was a typical media spectacle of fortitude, technological know-how, and human dignity, topped off by incredible success. From the beginning, the Chilean story took on a nationalistic air. When the miners were discovered alive, their first spoken message to the world was the Chilean national anthem sung in unison. From that day onward, there were scantily few images of the site and the rescue process that did not include a Chilean flag. For audiences in many parts of the world, the conjunction of tragedy, triumph, and jingoistic celebration would appear perfectly normal, and very much in line with similar events such as the 9/11and 7/7 terrorist attacks. What could be more typical than an expression of national solidarity in the face of a common threat? Yet for many Latin American observers, the Chilean response seemed somewhat odd. In fact, in country after country in the region, common threats do not soothe internal divisions, but actually seem to deepen them. One could have imagined many other political narratives in the region accompanying the original accident and subsequent rescue focusing on class divisions, regional complaints, or ethnic claims; to stand with the miners as workers is one thing, to stand with them as co-nationals is another. The very exceptionalism of the way Chileans came together behind their government during the mine rescue highlights the particular nature of state-society relations in much of Latin America and serves to bring forth a series of questions about nationalist sentiment in the region. Two issues deserve special attention: first, what is the nature of Latin American nationalism and, second, how does its development correspond to the kind of stimuli associated with it in other parts of the world? The first can help us to understand the specific region better, while the second might improve our analysis of the process of state and nation making throughout the developing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNationalism and War
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781139540964
ISBN (Print)9781107034754
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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