Languages of Historical Representation: Andrés Bello and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento on the Theory and Method of History in Post-Colonial Spanish America

 “Plano Ludwig”, map of Buenos Aires made by Pablo Ludwig in 1892. Printed by Imp. Est. Gráfico de Gunche, Wiebeck and Turl, San Martín 315, Buenos Aires. 

by Pablo Soffia Palma

The paper argues that Bello and Sarmiento used historical discourse to break Spanish American epistemic dependency from Europe and promote autonomous canons of thought. This claim challenges the still prevailing scholarly consensus on Bello and Sarmiento as intellectually opposite and Eurocentric. The first section delves into Bello’s position on the philosophy of history as connected to his philosophy of mind and semiotics. The second traces Sarmiento’s methodological experimentations on the writing of history. The paper concludes that both thinkers were part of a transnational movement aiming at turning historicism into a means of decolonization.

The video presentation will be featured here.

Author’s bio:
Pablo studied history (BA, 2014) and philosophy (BA, 2016) at PUC (Chile). In 2017, he completed a joint MA in History of Political Thought and Intellectual History at UCL and QMUL (London). He is currently a PhD candidate in History at UCL under the supervision of Prof Nicola Miller. His PhD thesis, “Decolonizing Historicism: Theories and Methods of History in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America,” focuses on historical thought, including historiography and the philosophy of history, but also encompassing debates on the philosophy of mind, education, language, sociology, and law. He argues that between the 1830s and 1890s, key Spanish American intellectuals used historical discourse to break their epistemic dependency from Europe and create local, autonomous canons of thought. Pablo’s research interests include the global history of the humanities and social sciences, in Europe and the Americas, between the 18th and the 20th centuries. 

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