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One of Latin America’s most famous historical figures, Simón Bolívar has become a mythic symbol for many nations, empires, and revolutions used to support wildly diverse—sometimes opposite—ideas. From colonial Cuba to Nazi-occupied France to Cold War–era Slovenia, the image of “El Libertador” has variously signified loyalty, national unity, liberation, freedom, and revolt.
In this volume, an array of international and interdisciplinary scholars shows the ways Bolívar has appeared over the last two centuries in painting, fiction, poetry, music, film, festival, dance, city planning, and even reliquary adoration. They illustrate how Bolívar’s body has been exalted, reimagined, or fragmented in different contexts, taking on a range of meanings to represent the politics and poetics of today’s national bodies.
By critically analyzing many examples of cultural Bolivarianisms, or cults of Bolívar, this collection demonstrates the capacity of the arts and humanities to challenge and reinvent hegemonic icons and narratives and, therefore, to be vital to democracy.