A Fervent Crusade for the National Soul examines cultural policies and the contested configuration of citizenship in Colombia in the 1930s and 1940s. At a time when national identities were re-imagined all over the Americas, progressive artists and intellectuals affiliated with the liberal governments that ruled Colombia established an unprecedented bureaucratic apparatus for cultural intervention that celebrated so-called “popular culture” and rendered culture a social right. This book challenges pervasive narratives of state failure in Colombia, attending to the confrontations, negotiations, and entanglements of bureaucrats with everyday citizens that shaped the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Catalina Muñoz argues that while culture became an instrument of inclusion, the liberal definition of popular culture as authentic and static was also a tool for domination that reinforced enduring structures of inequality founded on region, race, and gender.
About the Presenter:
Catalina Muñoz (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is an associate professor of history at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author of A Fervent Crusade for the National Soul: Cultural Politics in Colombia, 1930-1946 (Lexington Books, 2022) and articles in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Ethnohistory, and Revista de Estudios Sociales, among others. A public historian, her research and practice examine the relevance of historical thinking and longue durée analysis to transitional justice, a field traditionally dominated by lawyers. In the context of the 2016 peace accords in Colombia, Muñoz co-founded Historias para lo que viene, a public history project that has implemented programs to enrich the public debate about peace in Colombia from a historical perspective. She has served on the Steering Committee of the International Federation for Public History (2016-2020), and is on the Editorial Board of International Public History (2021-2024). Normally based in Colombia, Professor Muñoz is currently Visiting Research Scholar at Princeton University’s Program for Latin American Studies.