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Reimagining National Belonging

Post-Civil War El Salvador in a Global Context

Robin Maria DeLugan

Publication Year: 2012

Reimagining National Belonging is the first sustained critical examination of post–civil war El Salvador. It describes how one nation, after an extended and divisive conflict, took up the challenge of generating social unity and shared meanings around ideas of the nation. In tracing state-led efforts to promote the concepts of national culture, history, and identity, Robin DeLugan highlights the sites and practices—as well as the complexities—of nation-building in the twenty-first century.

Examining events that unfolded between 1992 and 2011, DeLugan both illustrates the idiosyncrasies of state and society in El Salvador and opens a larger portal into conditions of constructing a state in the present day around the globe—particularly the process of democratization in an age of neoliberalism. She demonstrates how academics, culture experts, popular media, and the United Nations and other international agencies have all helped shape ideas about national belonging in El Salvador. She also reveals the efforts that have been made to include populations that might have been overlooked, including indigenous people and faraway citizens not living inside the country’s borders. And she describes how history and memory projects have begun to recall the nation’s violent past with the goal of creating a more just and equitable nation.

This illuminating case study fills a gap in the scholarship about culture and society in contemporary El Salvador, while offering an “ethnography of the state” that situates El Salvador in a global context.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v-v

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pp. vii-viii

This book is years in the making. It is the product of many visits to El Salvador. I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Fulbright IIE, Social Science Research Council, Ford Foundation, and the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship ...

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Introduction: Nation Out of War

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pp. 1-20

Hhow any nation-state recovers from civil war is a topic of vital interest and importance to the contemporary world. From the formal political arrangements and institutional reforms that return a society to peace, to the reconstruction of social ties, post-conflict nation-building involves ...

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1. Concentrating on Culture: Peace, Schooling, and Values

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pp. 21-43

El Salvador’s civil war ended in January 1992. In the aftermath of war, state-led nation-building focused intently on culture as a mechanism for reconstructing national society. In El Salvador state-led practices addressed culture in two major ways: as an instrument ...

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2. Drawing on the Past: History, Archaeology, Inclusions, and Exclusions

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pp. 44-62

In postwar El Salvador, there were simultaneously occurring state-led projects to represent the nation and rebuild national society. Some nation-building strategies looked to El Salvador’s deep past for symbols of the unique nation. The approach is familiar to some ...

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3. Envisioning Indigenous Participation: State Ambivalence, Local Activism, and International Influences

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pp. 63-84

Postwar efforts to define El Salvador’s national uniqueness emphasized archaeological and historical pasts. These new projects, some of which I described in the previous chapter, valorized pre-Columbian and historical indigenous heritage for a purportedly culturally ...

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4. Remapping the Nation: Faraway Citizens, Transnational State Practices, and the Impact of Migration

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pp. 85-104

State-led practices in postwar El Salvador focused on culture, history, and identity as a means to unite a fragmented and polarized national society. Earlier chapters described practices inspired by UNESCO to develop a culture of peace that emphasized universally ...

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5. Remembering and Belonging: Museums, Monuments, and National Memory Including the Violence of Civil War

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pp. 105-124

A number of postwar museums were constructed during the years of my research in El Salvador. They created new forums for presenting and debating, even contesting, ideas about the nation’s past, present, and its imaginable future. Some museums were aligned ...

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pp. 125-128

National belonging refers to present-day recognition, status, and affinity. It is also about certain narratives of the past and how one’s experiences and understandings of state and society compare with dominant representations of the nation. By following simultaneously ...


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pp. 129-138

Works Cited

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pp. 139-150


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pp. 151-156

About the Author

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p. 157-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599455
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816509393

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2012