Nineteenth-century creole Colombians described the national tropical space as utterly divided by mountains into different climates and distinct races. The coming to power of young Laissez Faire liberals in mid-nineteenth-century Colombia—José María Samper being their most fervent ideologue—would not entail debunking this image, but problematically refashioning it to fit a cosmopolitan paradigm of a boundless territory in which Europe and Colombia could be connected by commerce. The European Winter Garden is a space where Samper refashions the national space. It is an enclosed place where tropical vegetation can be captured and transformed into pure capital by controlling its climate and ridding it of those natural obstacles and races that are considered (by Samper) fragmentary preludes to civilization. Fantasizing about the tropics as a place without history and without people (of color), in his visits to European winter gardens Samper tries to turn the Colombian lowlands into a fetish, deactivating its threatening nature. Thus winter gardens can be interpreted as places to gaze into a dystopian world—vegetative spaces, the aftermath of cultural genocide in the Colombian tropics.


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pp. 13-27
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