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Decadent ModernityCivilisation and 'Latinidad' in Spanish America, 1880-1920$
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Michela Coletta

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941312

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941312.001.0001

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Raza latina: immigration and decadence at the fin de siècle

Raza latina: immigration and decadence at the fin de siècle

(p.29) 1 Raza latina: immigration and decadence at the fin de siècle
Decadent Modernity

Michela Coletta

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the ways in which the incorporation of the notion of ‘Latinity’ was affected by changing representations of European civilisation. Through an analysis of the discourses that were created in the popular press, the key argument here is that shifting perceptions of the European immigrant deeply affected the debate on the Latin race: rather than being taken at face value, the possible implications of belonging to the cultural and political sphere of the Latin countries of Europe were long debated. More specifically, the chapter explores the idea of national degeneration in relation to responses to and perceptions of ‘Latin’ immigration at the turn of the century. The significant waves of immigration from Southern Europe fuelled discussions over the impact of a notion such as that of Latinity, which was becoming identified with ideas of progressive degeneration in the contemporary sociological literature. The civilising power of the immigrant was increasingly ambivalent as he was identified with a decadent civilisation whose values seemed to clash with nineteenth-century liberal ideals. So, contrary to the widely shared assumption that ‘Latin America’ was a uniform notion, this discussion shows the complex debates about Latinity and Anglo-Saxonness in each of the three national contexts.

Keywords:   Latinity, Anglo-Saxonness, Latin Europe, Civilisation and barbarism, Immigration, Race, Nation, Spencerianism, Darwinism, Criminological psychiatry

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