Reforming Chile. Cultural Politics, Nationalism, and the Rise of the Middle Class. PATRICK BARR-MELEJ: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

William F. Sater


Patrick Barr-Melej urges the reader to use culture to understand the efforts of the emerging middle class reformers to deal with two conflicting ideologies: the aristocratic attempt to preserve "traditional" values and the efforts of men, such as Luis Emilio Recabarren, to alter dramatically Chile.

The author believes that these middle class figures - "intellectuals, educators, bureaucrats, and politicians" - seized the middle ground, fashioning "an agenda of cultural politics and elaborated a nationalist imagination that altered Chile's cultural landscape, infused politics with a new constellation of images, symbols, and meanings, and influenced how many Chileans thought about themselves and their nation" (p. 2). The movement received support from authors who spurned European literary models and, like the early proponents of criolloism, instead emphasized Chilean themes.

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