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Picture of Enemies Within

Enemies Within

Cultural Hierarchies and Liberal Political Models in the Hispanic World

Editor(s): María Sierra
Contributors: Rafael Zurita, Cristina Ramos Cobano, Marta Bonaudo, Diego Mauro, Maria Sierra, Susana Sueiro, Pilar Pérez Fuentes,

Book Description

Can citizenship rights be denied to significant groups in a society that regards itself as civilized and self-governing? Is it possible to exclude such people in the name of freedom and reason? Is it plausible to explain classifications that differentiate between first- and second-class citizens as “natural”?

This is the paradox inherent in modern politics, born of the revolutions that ended the Ancien Régime in the western world. Throughout the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth, liberalism inspired a representative form of government that appealed to citizenship, yet marginalized many social groups, including natives, women, immigrants, workers, slaves and nomads. In the Hispanic dimension of the Atlantic world that this book deals with, modern politics was based on exclusions explained as natural and necessary. In both Europe and America, a distinction was made between the responsible citizen and those “others” in society, potential “enemies within”, who had to be controlled and supervised.

This book explains the success of this political operation by analysing the historical construction of figures of alterity that were fundamental to the definition of national civic identities. Its basic premise is that imaginaries that were constructed in the nineteenth century can be found even today in western political conceptions. The cultural complexity of enduring political images is revealed by exploring the inner workings of virtuous figures in relation to their opposites: readers will find the mosaic of representations of civic alterity both recognisable and surprising.

The contributors to this volume provide historical perspectives on the debate on political legitimacy in open societies. Reinventing democracies involves understanding the historicity of inherited formulae of governance and considering them, therefore, as amenable to improvement. The readiness to do this is not a threat to democracy but, rather, a commitment to looking for it.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-8365-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-8365-4
Date of Publication: 01/12/2015
Pages / Size: 235 / A5
Price: £47.99


María Sierra is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Seville, Spain. She has conducted research projects on nineteenth century liberalism (Elegidos y elegibles: La representación parlamentaria en la cultura liberal, 2010) and explored the notion of “political culture” in several studies, particularly Culturas políticas: teoría e historia (2010) and Las culturas políticas contemporáneas en España y América Latina (2014). She is currently developing research on a history of the Roma.