Latin American Studies

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Utopias in Latin America

Past and Present

Juan Pro is a professor in Contemporary History at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, and Coordinator of the Interuniversity Programme for the Doctorate in Modern and Contemporary History. He is currently director of HISTOPIA [History of the future: Utopia and its alternatives in the modern horizons of expectation, 19th–21st centuries] and coordinator of the Transatlantic Network of Utopian Studies.

In an age in which fears about the future predominate (in the form of dystopias, ecological catastrophes and terrifying Sci-Fi scenarios), utopia is reappearing as the bearer of hope for the fate of humanity. Latin America has historically been a fertile ground where utopian projects, movements and experiments could take root and thrive, and this constitutes one of the region's major contributions to world history.

Each of the thirteen authors who participate to this collective volume address a particular case or specific aspect of Latin American utopianism from colonial times to the present day. The relationship between utopia and America – Latin America in particular – has been a constant throughout the ages and helps to clarify both the concept of Utopia and of Latin America. The one cannot be understood without the other, from the book of Thomas More in 1516 to the present. Myths and legends of utopian content already proliferated at the time of the voyages of exploration, spurring on the conquistadors, while the knowledge gap about lands awaiting discovery was filled with stories about utopias.

The America that the Spanish and Portuguese discovered became, from the sixteenth century onwards, a space in which it was possible to imagine the widest variety of forms of human coexistence. Utopias in Latin America reconsiders the sense and understanding of utopias in various historical frames: the discovery of indigenous cultures and their natural environments; the foundation of new towns and cities in a vast colonial territory considered as empty space in which it was possible to start afresh; the experimental communities of nineteenth-century utopian socialists and European exiled intellectuals; and the innovative formulae that attempts to get beyond twentieth-century capitalism.

Published in association with the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS) at the University of California, San Diego. CHAIR: CARLOS WAISMAN

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-922-7
Hardback Price: £75.00 / $89.95
Release Date: May/June 2018
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-982-1
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $39.955
Release Date: February 2019
Page Extent / Format: 400 pp. 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No



Introduction, Juan Pro (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)

1. “Utopia” in the Spanish Language: The Origin of a Word, the History of an Idea
Juan Pro

2. How to Do Things With Utopias: Stories, Memory and Resistance
in Paraguay
Marisa González de Oleaga (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain)

3. Vasco de Quiroga rewrites Utopia
Geraldo Witeze Jr. (Instituição Federal de Goiás, Brazil)

4. Where Is Columbus’s Helmsman Taking Us?: The City of the Sun by Tommaso Campanella as a Utopia Critical of the Iberian Empires
Carlos E.O. Berriel (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brasil)

5. Utopian Imagination Across the Atlantic: Chile in the 1820s
J. Carlos Ferrera (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)

6. Cabet’s Utopia, from Minorca to Argentina: Bartolomé Victory y Suárez
Horacio Tarcus (CeDInCI - Universidad Nacional de San Martín - CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

7. The Utopia of the “Latin Race”: Michel Chevalier, Victor Considerant and Public Debate in Spain Concerning the Intervention in Mexico (1861–1867)
Nere Basabe (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)

8. Rhodakanaty in Mexico
Carlos Illades (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico)

9. The Cecilia Colony: Echoes of an Amorous Utopia in the Libertarian Press
Laura Fernández Cordero (CeDInCI - Universidad Nacional de San Martín - CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

10. Technologies of the Afterlife: Spiritualism and Social Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Mexico
Ana Sabau (University of Michigan, USA)

11. Universopolis: The Universal in a Place and Time
Andrew Ginger (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)

12. The Commune in Venezuela: A Utopian Prefiguration
Dario Azzellini (City University of New York, USA)


13. Walking towards Utopia: Experiences from Argentina
Marina Sitrin (City University of New York, USA)

The Editors and Contributors


This volume contains 13 the essays on Latin America as a setting for utopian thought and action, focusing on specific cases and aspects. Historians and other scholars from Latin America, Europe, and the US examine the different ways the term "utopia" has been used in Spanish; five of the utopian colonies established in Paraguay in the 19th and 20th centuries; the utopian project that Vasco de Quiroga developed in New Spain from 1532 on; The City of the Sun by Tommaso Campanella as a utopia critical of Iberian empires; utopian imagination in Chile in the 1820s; Bartolomé Victory y Suárez and Etienne Cabet's writings on utopian socialism; the French, British, and Spanish intervention against the government of Juárez in Mexico and the subsequent Mexican Empire under Maximilian I in terms of utopian concepts and proposals; Plotino Rhodakanaty's version of utopia in Mexico; Giovanni Rossi's Cecilian Colony experiment in Brazil; spiritualism and social imagination in 19th-century Mexico; José Vasconcelos' prophecy of a utopia in La raza cosmica; the Venezuelan commune as a utopian prefiguration; and recent utopian experiences in Argentina.

Altogether, this volume charts a journey well worth taking. It sheds light on areas of knowledge and experience often sidestepped by more traditional disciplinary approaches and literary scholarship. It also demonstrates the ex­ traordinary potential of utopian studies as a way to expand boundaries, explore alternative realities, and create interdisciplinary dialogues.
Reviewed by Beatriz Pastor, Dartmouth College, in Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe, Vol. 29, No. 2 (2018)

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