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Contributions to Theory and Comparative History of Historiography

German and Brazilian Perspectives

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Edited By Luiz Estevam de Oliveira Fernandes, Luísa Rauter Pereira and Sérgio da Mata

This book bears witness to the tightening of bonds that has been taking place among the Brazilian and the German historiographical communities in the last years. It presents a wide array of historiographical issues by various scholars: the role played by history writing in modern processes of nation-building, Alexander von Humboldt’s indirect Brazilian experience, the humanistic and methodical legacies of 19 th century German historical thinking, current perspectives in the history of concepts, and the potentials and limits of history as a means for political education.
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Humboldt and the Writing of New Spain’s History

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When Friedrich Heinrich Alexander, the Baron of Humboldt, arrived in America, he was 30 years old. It was the year 1799. Aboard the ship Pizarro, he carried powerful recommendation letters from the King of Spain that would open his way into the New World. Departing from Lima, he crossed the Americas and arrived in New Spain in 1803, where he remained for almost a year. During his stay, Humboldt analyzed the so-called “Mexican antiques” in a manner unusual for local scholars. With his works, he provided evidence to the proud Creoles that their land was historically rich and their subsoil was as valuable as they had always figured. Humboldt left his Tablas geográfico políticas del reino de Nueva España (1804), regarding statistical data compiled during his research, to New Spain’s bureaucracy, written in Spanish, as a token of his consideration for their aid and support throughout his stay in New Spain. After his departure, he became a symbol of science and progress, and because of his work, there were statues raised in his name, and his memory was praised as the creator of the “true” image of Mexico.

It was especially the publication of Vue des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique (1810), and in particular, Essai politique sur le royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne (1811), that rendered him great fame in Mexican lands. The latter work has been untiringly reprinted, translated, and quoted in America and...

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