A Topological Approach to Politics and Democracy from Polis to Cosmopolis
(National R & D PLAN, Spain; Ref.: FFI2012-31640)


1) Francisco Colom González - Ángel Rivero (eds.): The Traditions of Liberty in the Atlantic World: Origins, Ideas and Practices. Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2015.

This book deals with the circulation of political ideas and the transformation of political culture at the edges of the Atlantic world. Since its inception by Bernard Bailyn, the idea of an integrated Atlantic approach to Western history has proven to be an innovative and prolific tool for historical interpretation. This perspective conceived of the Atlantic world as a social, political and economic space built around an inner Ocean. We can possibly recognize a certain Braudelian reverberation at its core. No one has been able though to combine the different dimensions of the Atlantic realm in such a masterful way as Fernand Braudel did with the Mediterranean. On the political side, the idea of an Atlantic world has been successfully connected with that of the Atlantic revolutions in order to explain the events that brought about modern democracy in Europe and the Americas in the long term. The agenda of Atlantic history has also been gradually enlarged to include new topics and disciplines. However, the notion of a regional network of multiple links in which there was neither a single center nor a unidirectional flux of communications, has been too often interpreted from a predominantly North-Atlantic, Anglo-American stance. While defending the value of the Atlantic hermeneutics, this book tries to consistently develop its full implications by bringing forward some of the ideas, political actors and historical experiences that have been usually neglected in the conventional narrative of this world. Its aim is to refocus the framework of intellectual history in order to consider the core ideas of political modernity from an Atlantic perspective, and more particularly their development and interaction in geographical areas that at the turn of the nineteenth century the changing historical hegemonies made relatively marginal. This is why Spain and Portugal, and on the other shore of the Atlantic Canada, Brazil and the Spanish American nations, are the focus of attention of the different chapters. The result of this is a historical portrayal of the Atlantic community in which the Iberian, Latin American and Canadian societies appear not as passive receptors, but as active participants in the broader process of Atlantic political communication.

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2) Francisco Colom - Ángel Rivero (eds.): El espacio político. Aproximaciones al giro espacial desde la teoría politica. Barcelona: Anthropos, 2015. Colección: Pensamiento Crítico / Pensamiento Utópico (Serie Argumentos de la Política), n.º 218

This book brings into light the role of space in political theory. The so-called spatial turn in the social sciences and the humanities must be considered within the plurality of epistemological turns (linguistic, aesthetic, iconic) that proliferated in this field after the demise of structuralism. This new perspective does not take time or chronology as predominant approaches for the study of politics but pays special attention to its topological constitution instead, i.e., to the place of politics as a normatively constituted sphere. The spatial dimension, to the extent that operates as a pre-constitutive element of politics, projects a new view on some of the classical topics of political philosophy. It also reveals the normative elements embedded in territorial configurations throughout history, in their jurisdictional principles and in the identity references of their main actors. The texts here collected offer a broad and clear introduction to the spatial key notions of western political thought and their cultural and ideological representation.


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3) Tomás Pérez Vejo: España imaginada. Historia de la invención de una nación. Barcelona, Galaxia Gutengerg, 2015. ISBN: 978-84-16252-89-3

Few debates have been so agitated in Spain during the last decades as the one dealing with national identity: is Spain a nation of nations? Is it a multinational state? Is there an internal right to secede? This has been an unending discussion in which clichés and deep-felt convictions have usually predominated over reasoning and argumentation. Nations are not objective and timeless realities but relatively new imaginary constructions; little else than the belief in a narrative. The purpose of this book is to reconstruct and explain how this narrative was created in the case of Spain not in the political but in the cultural field. The Nation-state -one of the most powerful artefacts of modernity- is a political construction as far as the state dimension is concerned, but it is a cultural product on the national aspect of it. Its visual axis is made out of the innumerable images and historical paintings that were sponsored and nurtured by the state, and with which the epic beauty of an iconographic narrative was created that declared the existence of an ancestral nation whose roots are lost in history. This is then not an artbook but a book on political history in its literal sense. Images are here considered not as aesthetic objects but as vestiges of a complex political process throughout which an Empire-state –the Monarquía Católica- was transformed into a Nation-state, one of the most fascinating phenomena in the history of Western political modernity.

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First Chapter

4) Carlos Alberto Patiño Villa: Guerras que cambiaron al mundo. Bogotá, Random House Mondadori, 2013; 313 pgs. ISBN: 978-958-8613-60-4

Modern history can be seen as a series of armed conflicts that have led to the present configuration of the world order - and disorder. This book explores those conflicts that changed a particular society, state or civilization and shaped the world as we know it today: from the Thirty Years' War -that secularized international politics and gave birth to a Europe-centered world system- and the Seven Years' War -which was termed by Churchill as the first global conflict- to the two World Wars in the twentieth century, the Cold War and the contemporary conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. These conflicts have changed the way in which diplomacy and war are waged, and the patterns of external intervention into domestic conflicts.


5) Francisco Colom González (ed.): Forma y política de lo urbano. La ciudad como idea, espacio y representación. Bogotá, Editorial Planeta Colombia (Crítica) - Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2016, 349 pgs. ISBN: 978-958-42-5428-3

This edited book fouses on the city conceived as a human community, a space for social interaction, and a built environment created and transformed by its inhabitants throughout generations. The cities, however, are also recepients and bearers of cultural meanings produced by the relations between their citizens. In this sense, they appear as normatively mediated spaces, as the materialization of the values and interests that have contributed to the shaping of their image. Some cities were historically associated with ideals that are reflected in their design and internal structure, turning them into archives of memory that can be read as a text. However, for us to read a city, we need to know its history, its social and economic organization, its urban layout and architectural patrimony, and the narratives that recount how a city came to be what it is nowadays and how it is was seen by its coevals. In a series of chapters dealing with examples taken from the Mediterranean and the Latin American regions, this book invites us to explore the morphopolitics of the city, i.e. the connection bewtween social norms, the aesthetics of the built environment, and urban forms. The first part of the book offers a perspective of the political background of the urban fact in different historical contexts, from ancient Rome and the Islamic world to Renaissance Europe and colonial America. The second part of the book deals with the relations between urban representations and the social imaginaries recognizable in them.


Territoriality is not a mere physical dimension or a fact, but a social production. From a political perspective, a territory is the result of a unique combination of space, history and power relations. From the ancient Roman municipalities to the modern populist movements, the territorial nomos or political spatiality of Hispanic societies has been defined by their urban condition. This is a feature that became even more conspicuous during the conquest and colonization of America. This article offers a long-range view of the role of the cities in the Spanish American political tradition: their foundational rites and patterns, their colonial governance, their contribution to the formation of nations, and their role as an arena for the mass movements of the twentieth century.

Keywords: Nationalism; Identity; Narrativity; National imaginaries; Historiography.

This paper explores the narrative dimension of national imaginaries. Drawing on the link established by Paul Ricoeur between time and narrative, and on Hyden White’s notion of ‘metahistory’ as the level from which intelligibility is conveyed to historical narration, the paper discloses the performative role of literary tropes in nationalist discourse and resorts to several examples from the Spanish American historiographical tradition in order to exemplify its case.