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Institution Building and State Formation in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

The University of San Carlos, Guatemala


Blake D. Pattridge

This book, based on years of research, including extensive work in Guatemalan archives, illuminates the social, political, and cultural life of Guatemala and Central America during the nineteenth century through the lens of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, the period’s only institution of higher learning in Guatemala and the most prestigious one on the Central American isthmus. The major issues addressed include the relationships between institution-building and state formation; between the university and the development of a national and regional identity; and between modernism and Catholicism (still a central tension in the region’s culture), including the discursive process of constructing an ideology that fused elements from the Enlightenment and the tradition of scholasticism. This book contributes to a growing body of revisionism by challenging a flawed liberal historiographical narrative that demarcates changes during the period along the lines of political transitions and insisting that this era be viewed within a broader context of fluidity and continuity in the region’s history.