Montoya, M. T. (2020). "La lengua es la patria": Nation Building and the Lettered Cities of Nineteenth Century Colombia. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2164
Whereas the Hispanists of the late nineteenth century sought to control language and culture within the nation by limiting political freedoms, such as the press, the dissidents against Spanish colonial rule in the early nineteenth century sought to break free from what they believed was an oppressive regime that limited their expression. In fact, the divergent forms of political organization and expressions brought about by independence were precisely what Hispanists sought to homogenize. In both cases, language was an essential tool for the creation and spread of colonial legacies which enforced different visions of the nation. Historian Lina del Castillo notes that “distinct inventions of the colonial legacy drove folks to do battle in the voting booth, on the battlefield, in courtrooms and legislative chambers, on church altars, in classrooms, and in the court of public opinion.” But despite the wide reach of these inventions she argues that “[there] was no actual ‘colonial legacy’ that hamstrung nineteenth-century state formation outside of the language discourse and the sociological imagination that these historical actors unleashed. The ‘colonial period’ is, in a sense, a liberal-era invention.” This essay will argue that the legacy of the colonial period was not only a liberal-era invention. While various colonial legacies were invented through the conversion of the press into a political tool in the early nineteenth century, the conservatives of the late nineteenth century also invented colonial legacies that supported their mission of cultural and political homogeneity. The control of language was among the most important political battlegrounds of the nineteenth century.