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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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(p.144) Conclusion
Decadent Modernity

Michela Coletta

Liverpool University Press

The book leads to two main conclusive points. Firstly, representations of cultural modernity in Latin America were not simply based on the idea of progress but were also linked with notions of degeneration. These ideas were subsequently challenged in order to engender a process of regeneration through which a different and more humane modern society could emerge, arising phoenix-like from the ashes of europeísta decline. The concluding chapter stresses the long-term significance of these turn-of-the-century debates by briefly considering the enthusiastic reception in South America of Oswald Spengler’s book on The Decline of the West (1918). Secondly, the book shows the ways in which and the extent to which the cultural notion of Latinity was debated, adapted and often challenged from within and the extent to which it facilitated internal discourses of modernity as well as of regional identity. The regeneration of Latin America needed to be primarily cultural. Or, to put it differently, culture was the essential instrument for political change. This political ideal would have a long-standing resonance in Spanish American criticism, reaching its ideological climax in 1920s Mexico with José Vasconcelos’ aesthetic vision of the cosmic race.

Keywords:   Progress, Decagence and degeneration, Cultural modernity, Oswald Spengler, Twentieth-century Arielismo

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