Simon Bolivar: Travels & Transformations of a Cultural Icon.

Author:da Cruz, Joshua
 
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Shanahan, Maureen G., and Ana Maria Reyes, eds. Simon Bolivar: Travels & Transformations of a Cultural Icon. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016.

Simon Bolivar: Travels & Transformations of a Cultural Icon explains why Latin America's great liberator was such an important cultural icon. Maureen G. Shanahan, a professor of art history at James Madison University, and Ana Maria Reyes, an assistant professor of Latin American art at Boston University, have brought together twelve scholars to discuss the topic of cultural Bolivarianism.

These scholars make compelling cases for why each aspect of Bolivar's life was so significant and how his life was used to develop the Bolivarian cult. The authors set out to demonstrate Bolivar's relevance as a "political and cultural sign" for the ideals of the enlightenment, such as citizenship, the republic, and liberty (2). Although they are aware that much of Bolivar's political ideology coincided with centralist authoritarianism, they are interested in the appropriations and reworkings of Bolivar's ideas and ideals into what they have become in the contemporary world (2).

Emily A. Engel discusses the importance of the portraiture of Bolivar and why it was significant to many people, especially his supporters. Engel presents a detailed argument about why the early portraits of Bolivar are historically significant. Highlighting the importance of the portraits after his departure from the political realm, Engel that these portraits have the presence of an "anti-imperial" ideology (44). Paul Niell, who specializes in Spanish colonial art and culture, argues that Bolivar was a figure whose image was used for "nation building" (75), noting that several other powerful leaders conspicuously displayed Bolivar's likeness in their offices.

Several authors strengthen the idea that...

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