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Mapping the Country of RegionsThe Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia$
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Nancy P. Appelbaum

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627441

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627441.001.0001

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The History of These Sublime Cordilleras

The History of These Sublime Cordilleras

Geology, Prehistory, and History

(p.167) 7 The History of These Sublime Cordilleras
Mapping the Country of Regions

Nancy P. Appelbaum

University of North Carolina Press

The seventh chapter considers how the commissioners and their contemporaries—particularly Joaquín Acosta—read the natural and human history that they saw written on the mountainous landscapes of New Granada. They interpreted archaeological and geological evidence within a catastrophist paradigm. The commissioners exalted the Muisca civilization of the Andes, referred to as the Chibchas, even as they disparaged its modern-day descendants. Prehistoric, colonial, and independence-era events were linked together to endow the young nation with a grandiose and cataclysmic natural history and a patriotic legacy of resistance to conquest and despotism. Such narratives depicted the nation as essentially Andean and reinforced Bogotá’s role as the nation’s capital. Each province was endowed with its own particular history and destiny. The commissioners’ reading of grandiose and overlapping pasts embedded in provincial landscapes, however, would prove racially exclusive and politically controversial.

Keywords:   Joaquín Acosta, Archaeology, Bogotá, Catastrophism, Agustín Codazzi, Geology, History, Muiscas (Chibchas), Natural History, Patriotic History

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