Lina del Castillo received her B.A. in History and Latin American Studies from Cornell University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Miami. Her dissertation won the University of Miami’s Barrett Prize for the best Ph.D. dissertation on a Latin American topic in 2008. Her research focuses on the intersections between 19th-century republicanism, scientific thinking, the public sphere, and visual culture.
Del Castillo’s first book, Crafting Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia examines how an array of nineteenth-century Spanish Americans marshaled in new histories, new sciences, and new geographies that offered radical new ways of understanding the past. Taking nineteenth-century Colombia as a case in point, this book explores the remarkable creativity and deep engagement with ‘on-the-ground’ realities that allowed these people to craft a republic that they believed the world would seek to emulate. Spanish American experiments with republicanism had no models to follow. From their perspective, neither the ossified aristocratic regimes of Europe nor the racist antebellum United States had been able to produce political and racial equality through republicanism. Spanish Americans had reason to believe that their republican experiments were on the vanguard of political modernity. Their creativity was inspired by the socio-political and spatial revolutions unleashed by Spanish American independence and early processes of republican state formation. This body of knowledge would allow them to propel economic development and circulation. Through detailed knowledge of local realities, Spanish Americans would best manage how territorial sovereignty would intersect with individual sovereignty in their present and future republics. These stories have long been buried under enduring narratives of 19th-century chaos, Liberal versus Conservative caudillos, aloof, disconnected elites that preferred Euro-centric models to local needs and realities, and, of course, Spanish American colonial legacies. The book argues that, if it were not for the deep cultural work carried out by 19th-century Spanish Americans like those considered here, the very category of ‘colonial legacies’ would not exist.