The Country of Regions
The conclusion briefly places Colombia in a broader framework, comparing it to other Latin American cases. The conclusion also traces the commission’s problematic long-term legacies for Colombia itself. The Chorographic Commission’s cartography formed the basis of most maps of Colombia until the early twentieth century. Its descriptions and regional typologies, moreover, were echoed in the works of Colombian and foreign writers and geographers, such as José María Samper, Élisée Reclus, and especialy Francisco Javier Vergara y Velasco, who elaborated a theory of “natural regions.” The commission thus contributed to constructing the nation as a “country of regions.” Rather than unify the nation, the commission portrayed it as fragmented into different and often opposing spaces, inhabited by racially and culturally distinct “types,” some better than others. This geographic hierarchy has persisted. A century and a half after the death of Agustín Codazzi, Colombians still ponder the question of what takes precedence: region or nation. Inhabitants of the highland Andean core, moreover, tend to define themselves as the Colombian norm, implicitly or explicitly white or mestizo. They tend to envision the peoples and landscapes of the rest of the country as violent, inferior, and Other, though also, at times, alluring.
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