Latin American Identity: A Cultural, Social and Historical Analysis based on Rodos Ariel and Retamars Caliban

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Latin-American Identity is a complex and ambiguous concept, influenced as it is by numerous cultural, social and historical contexts that often present dichotomies rather than unified wholes. While Rodo and Retamar present different paths towards a Latin-American identity a great irony must be initially pointed out.


Rodo and Retamar have contrasting visions of what will create a strong Latin-American Identity. For Rodo it is the educated intellectuals who must lead the way, while for Retamar it is the mestizos and the lower classes. Taking Rodo's Ariel first, in this work the writer calls for a cosmopolitanism that involved changing/transforming European models of development and identity. According to Rodo, Latin-Americans should neither slavishly follow European standards/structures nor unthinkingly reject them. According to Rodo the sense of Ariel as 'spirit' can create a Latin-American cultural sovereignty:
Rolo's view of Ariel, and the manner in which it can inform an identity for Latin-Americans, seems based upon the Cartesian contrast between rationality and savagery, between elevation and baseness, between intelligence and ignorance. Essentially, all those features which are typically "European", stemming mainly from the Enlightenment image of civilization are contrasted with those characteristics which were typically associated with the "natives" (i.e. non-Europeans, in this case Latin-Americans) who are perceived as savage.
The colonial past, if not valorized, is at least presented in a softer light than many critics would suggest is both realistic and a moral imperative. ...
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