Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America
328 pages, 6 x 9
20 b&w illus., 1 line drawing
Release Date:01 Dec 2006

Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America

Edited by Samuel Brunk and Ben Fallaw
University of Texas Press

Latin American history traditionally has been defined by larger-than-life heroes such as Símon Bolívar, Emiliano Zapata, and Evita Perón. Recent scholarship, however, tends to emphasize social and cultural factors rather than great leaders. In this new collection, Samuel Brunk and Ben Fallaw bring heroes back to the center of the debate, arguing that heroes not only shape history, they also "tell us a great deal about the places from which they come."

The original essays in this collection examine ten modern Latin American heroes whose charisma derived from the quality of their relationships with admirers, rather than their innate personal qualities. The rise of mass media, for instance, helped pave the way for populists such as radio actress-turned-hero Evita Perón. On the other hand, heroes who become president often watch their images crumble, as policies replace personality in the eyes of citizens. In the end, the editors argue, there is no formula for Latin American heroes, who both forge, and are forged by, unique national events. The conclusion points toward Mexico, where the peasant revolutions that elevated Miguel Hidalgo and, later, Emiliano Zapata are so revered that today's would-be heroes, such as the EZLN's Subcomandante Marcos, must link themselves to peasant mythology even when their personal roots are far from native ground. The enduring (or, in some cases, fading) influence of those discussed in this volume validates the central placement of heroes in Latin American history.

Samuel Brunk is Professor of History at the University of Texas at El Paso. Ben Fallaw is Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies at Colby College
in Maine.
  • Introduction: Heroes and Their Cults in Modern Latin America (Ben Fallaw and Samuel Brunk)
  • 1. Simón Bolívar: Man and Myth (John Chasteen)
  • 2. Remembering and Forgetting Agustín Gamarra: The Life and Legacy of the Cuzco Caudillo (Charles F. Walker)
  • 3. Antonio López de Santa Anna's Search for Personalized Nationalism (Shannon Baker)
  • 4. Presidential Ritual in Porfirian Mexico: Curtsying in the Shadow of Dictators (Víctor M. Macías-González)
  • 5. The Eyes of Emiliano Zapata (Samuel Brunk)
  • 6. Felipe Carrillo Puerto of Revolutionary-Era Yucatán, Mexico: Popular Leader, Caesar, or Martyr? (Ben Fallaw)
  • 7. Augusto Sandino of Nicaragua: The Hero Never Dies (Richard Grossman)
  • 8. Frida Kahlo: Heroism of Private Life (Nancy Deffebach)
  • 9. Haya de la Torre and APRA (David Nugent)
  • 10. Evita Perón: Beauty, Resonance, and Heroism (Linda B. Hall)
  • 11. Conclusion: Rethinking Latin American Heroes (Samuel Brunk and Ben Fallaw)
  • Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
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