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Simón BolívarTravels and Transformations of a Cultural Icon$
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Maureen G. Shanahan and Ana María Reyes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062624

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062624.001.0001

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Embodiments and Disembodiments of the Nation, the People, and the State

Embodiments and Disembodiments of the Nation, the People, and the State

Disputing Bolívar’s Body, and the Uses of Bolivarianism in Contemporary Venezuelan Politics

Chapter:
(p.230) 13 Embodiments and Disembodiments of the Nation, the People, and the State
Source:
Simón Bolívar
Author(s):

Luis Duno-Gottberg

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062624.003.0014

Human remains constitute the ultimate and most contentious “site of memory.” The bone fragments of Columbus or Cuauthémoc, the leg of Santa Ana, the embalmed body of Evita, the mutilated bodies of Juan Perón and Che Guevara, are well known examples of the lively role that dead bodies (or body parts) have played in the staging of the past. In this essay, Duno-Gottberg reflects on Bolivarianism in contemporary Venezuela through a recent controversy regarding the remains of Simón Bolívar. He contends that beyond the populist instrumentalization of those “heroic bones,” the source of conflict might relate more closely to the ways in which the body of Simón Bolívar condenses a particular conception of the state and a certain notion of sovereignty, all within the contentious political arena of contemporary Venezuela. This polemic is also placed within a discursive tradition that dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   site of memory, heroic bones, polemic, populist

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