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Catholicism and republicanism: shaping the reason of the citizen in early 19th century Argentinean schooling.

The following analysis was triggered in thinking about how the principles that govern reflection and action in Argentina were shaped by Catholic narratives and were reenacted in the modern republican citizen. The ways in which religious narratives flowed from the Spanish Colonial Catholicism to republicanism can be perceived by analyzing Spanish Colonial narratives and republican ones. The wide scope of Catholic Sermons and Catechisms made them unique pedagogical devices in the early years of the republic (1810-1820) as was internalized in the schools (Dussel, 2011). I analyze three sources, the Spanish State Catechism, the Republican sermons, and the Patriotic Catechism, as a way to understand the 'reasons' of early republicanism. Through a genealogical discourse analysis, the essay describes how some principles from a Colonial Catholicism merged into the Argentinean (1) republic citizen.

Catholic narratives became inscribe as principles and distinctions that ordered perceptions of time, ways of responding to the world, and conceptions of the soul (in US context, see Popkewitz, 1997). Through the analysis of notions of space, time, and soul, I describe how the reason of Argentinean republicanism was deeply entangled with Catholic narratives shaping a specific republican citizen. The "reason" that gave intelligibility to the citizen is in the assembly of the Spanish Catechism, the Republican sermons and the Patriotic Catechism. Although not specifically related to modern "schooling" the three sources are considered as historical conditions that make possible the subjects of schooling (Popkewitz, 2014, p. 2).

Colonial Catholicism and the Early Argentinean Republic

In order to grasp the Colonial Hispanic tradition I analyze the Spanish Monarchical Catechism called the State Catechism (1793), republican Catholic sermons, and the Patriotic catechism (1810). The State Catechism was well known in Latin America (2) (Baeza, 1996), in part because it argued against republican ideas that were widespread in Buenos Aires. In order to study the narratives that shaped the republican citizen I analyze the republican Catholic sermons and the Patriotic Catechism printed by the nascent republicans. The republican sermons assembled a different range of Catholic ideas closely related to contractualist theories. The contractualist theory developed by the Jesuit Father Francisco Suarez and Rousseau states that the political power of people is contractual in origin because the society originates by consensus of free will. In opposition, the traditional theological perspective affirms that the political power comes directly from God to the king. Hence, the assembly of contractualist theories, republicanism and fresh Catholic ideas shaped a different notion of agency and power.

The republican Catholic sermons analyzed were delivered from 1810 to 1830, (3) mostly by Catholic Fathers at important national ceremonies, such as at the May Revolution, funeral prayers of national heroes, patriotic memorials, thanksgivings after military victories, etc. Although the Catholic Fathers were religious figures, they were also key political actors that were actively struggling through civil and religious occupations against the Spanish Monarchy. (4) The corpus of seven hundred pages of Catholic sermons that I analyze was published in 1907 by Adolfo Carranza. He was a national propagandist (Bertoni, 2001) and the title of his book: El clero argentine de 1810 a 1830, Oraciones patrioticas (The Argentinean Clergy 1810-1830, Patriotic Prayers) shows his unquestioned syncretism between the religious --Catholicism--and the political of the "Argentinean" citizen.

As a second example of the modus operandi of how religion travels from the strictly religious sphere and assembles in notions of citizenship, I analyze the civic-politic catechisms. Immediately after the revolution (1810), the Patriotic party struggling for independence from Spain, published the Public Catechism for the Instruction of the Neophytes or Recently Converted to the Guild of the Patriotic Society. The goal (5) of the republicans was to replace the Hispanic Catechisms (6) (Cucuzza, 2011). Patriotic Catechism provides a way to examine how religion themes become cultural practices, circulating almost unnoticed within different ideological or partisan points of view related to the Argentinean republicanism and the royalists.

A Genealogical Approach

The genealogical method does not seek for the origin of Argentinean republicanism but the fluid systems of reason that make the Argentinean republican citizen possible. The methodological approach does not imply a separation between ideas and reality or between theory and practice. The two elements, set of practices, and regime of truth are assembled and are unthinkable by themselves. It is only through this specific set of practices that I am able to grasp the embodied regime of truth about the early republican citizen.

Throughout the essay, I explore how religious narratives shape the Argentinean citizen in the pedagogical practices as systems of reasons (Popkewitz, 1997a, p. 9). In order to clarify how the systems of reasons can be used, I introduce a quote from Borges.

To see one thing one has to comprehend it. An armchair presupposes the human body its joins and limbs; a pair of scissors, the act of cutting. What can be said of a lamp or a car? The savage cannot comprehend the missionary's Bible; the passenger does not see the same rigging as the sailors. If we really could see the world, maybe we would understand it (Borges, 1975, p.58).

I do not think there is a better way to explain the scope of the systems of reason other than this quotation from Borges. In the example, the protagonist of the story--the savage--lacks the grids of intelligibilities that allow him to "make" sense or order those signs (Foucault, 1973). In order to see a Bible, it is required to have other conceptions such as what is sacred, God, the individual, textual material, etc. These discursive relations are the set of relations that discourse must establish in order to speak of this or any object and allow people to perceive certain things and not others (Foucault, 1972, p. 46). The end of the quotation is also poignant: "if we really could see the world maybe we would understand it", because this refers to the human impossibility of understanding the world. In a double gesture our grids of intelligibilities construct "reality" by making some things visible and others unimaginable.

The Republicanization of Space, the Republic as a Salvific Space

In this section, I describe how Catholic religious images were deployed throughout the Republican sermons (1810-1830) to describe the early Argentinean republic. (7) The republic was depicted through strong salvific images: the Garden of Eden, the Promised Land and the unstained early Christian church. Republican discourse draws upon each one of such religious images to highlight specific republican features. For example, in 1815, during the fifth anniversary of the May Revolution, Father Francisco de Castaneda describes the Republic through the image of the Garden of Eden,

America is a paradise on earth where the greatest rivers birth and travel; where rules a healthy climate.... America is the garden of the universe, in which surface all are fruits, in which center all are treasures, in which mountains and coasts all are aromas. The America for these and many other circumstances, should be the emporium of religion, the center of wealth, the theater of the wisdom and power. (Castaneda, 1815, p. 157)

A few years after the May Revolution, the South American "America" was described with clear biblical resemblances--fruitful trees and well-watered landscapes--linked to the Garden of Eden. Catholic tradition claims that life before original sin is in the Garden of Eden, as described in the book of Genesis. Humans were expelled from the Garden of Eden and condemned to live from the Earth after the original sin. The narratives of the Spanish America as the land of rivers and fruits signal a return to the Garden of Eden. South America is depicted as a salvific space in which rivers, fruits, and treasures depict a paradisiacal scenario. However, South America as a republic drew upon elements of the Garden of Eden and included seemingly secular elements such as wealth and power. Castaneda also explains how the South American republic has been chosen by God to become the center of wealth, wisdom and power depicting America as a heaven on earth.

Another religious image used to describe the Republic was the Promised Land. In 1817, during the seventh anniversary of the May Revolution, the Father Pedro Luis Pacheco depicted South America as the Promised Land, an exceptional place that would gather people of remote places:

What father of family such as the inhabitants of Tartary, of Hindustan, the Bessarabia, the Crimea, in the Moluccas or the Savage Islands will not tell his children, with the most honorable and glorious excitement: Leave, my children, leave this ungrateful soil, let's go to the city of God, let's travel to the home of the virtues, let's live in the Lord's realm, in South America, where peace dwells, where Christian charity has established his throne. (Pacheco, 1817, p. 241)

Importantly, religious elements such as virtues, charity, or the city of God and secular elements, such as fertility and soil, are assembled within the same narrative. The combination forges a deeply Catholic republic in which the figure of authority that was hitherto reserved for the Spanish King was reserved for the Lord. So far, the narrative does not refer to a classical republic or a government of the people, but certainly it was a shift, since a couple of years before South America was governed by the Spanish kings. The republic described as the Promised Land was enacted in order to seduce prospective immigrants from all around the world and placed South America in a different spatiality. From being at the borders, a continent far away from Europe, South America became the center, because South America was a salvific space. The salvific narratives placed South America at the center of the globe. The 'salvification' of the republican space was so important that the assemblage of religious and republican elements was depicted as the happiest state possible.

Finally, the religious image of the early Christian Church was deployed in the sermons to describe the republic. The early Christian Church is described in the Bible as a generous and altruistic community in opposition to the wealthy Roman Catholic church that was linked to the Spanish king and his earthly power. The primitive church and its fraternal style of life gave intelligibility to the aspirations of the early Republic. Fray Pedro Luis Pacheco describes South America as the place:

where nobody speaks about mine and yours, those cold words that are the cause of tragedies and disorders.... South America is [the land] where all the rights of the men are respected ... as in the age of the Apostles where there was only one heart and one soul. (Pacheco, 1817, p. 242)

The early Argentinean republicanism draws upon the image of the early Christian church because generosity and sharing, opposed to the aristocratic accumulation of wealth, was one of the key virtues promoted by republicanism. At the same moment, the early Christian Church embodied a more homogenizing society, "where nobody speaks of mine and yours", and such a call for homogenization assembled perfectly well with Republican ideals that were opposed to the accumulation of ranks and titles deployed by the Spanish monarchy.

The Republicanization of Historical Time

In this section, I compare the Spanish monarchical notion of time with the republican one. No matter that the revolution provoked a political earthquake, the historical timeline described throughout the republican Catholic sermons had clear resemblances of the notion of time present in the Spanish State Catechism. The State Catechism is an example of a traditional colonial Catholic timeline. The State Catechism explains that the original sin provoked the fall from heaven and the emergence of all kinds of disorders. Hence, God established the monarchy as a remedy to the disorders provoked by the original sin (Villanueva, 1793, p. 27). The present time was the one governed by the Spanish kings, and since God established the authority of the kings, the monarchy was considered the perfect political system. Any transgression to the Spanish King was taken as a rebellion against God's providence. To a large degree, the present time embodied by the Spanish monarchy was the salvific time established to order society after the disorders provoked by the original sin.

In seeming opposition to the traditional Catholic understanding of time inscribed in the Spanish Monarchy, time in the Republican Catholic sermons was enacted through the Jeremiad. As a discursive form, the Jeremiad (Bercovitch, 1978) has its origins in the Old Testament prophets. The prophets, who had a direct mission from God, were sent to Israel to call for repentance usually because Israelites worshipped foreign gods. The Jeremiad implies an emancipating destiny or a dangerous one if not accomplishing the redeeming "reformation" demanded by God. The old Testament prophets announced military defeats, persecutions and slavery if people do not convert to God (Murphy, 2009; Bercovitch, 1978). The Argentinean Jeremiad deployed the three stages of Jeremiad but within republican and South American lenses.

No matter which way that Republican ideas were assembled in such a postcolonial timeline, a Christian periodization of time was underpinning the republican understanding of time. The early republican notion of time was constrained by the Jeremiad that established a well-defined periodization of the past, the present and the future. The republican Catholic sermons depict how the Argentinean republican citizen was inscribed in a periodization that included an immemorial almost forgotten Pre-Hispanic past with peaceful connotation that was linked to the life in Paradise, a miserable Spanish Colonial recent past full of calamities that was linked to the period of the fall from heaven, an unstable republican present linked to the earthly life, and finally, a promissory Republican future that was described as heaven on earth. Although, somehow different from the Spanish theological periodization, the republican periodization was deeply theological and acted as a bridge that gave intelligibility to the kind of life individuals were to live in the present.

The life in Paradise was described as the period before the Spanish conquest. Catholic sermons describe that past epoch as an earthly paradise ruled peacefully by Indians. (8) This idyllic past was represented as a sinless epoch in which passions, a synonym of evilness, were almost non-existent in America. Indians were described as innocent and harmless people who were capable of having a tradition and a morality. Such construction of the immemorial past aimed to mobilize feelings of respect and compassion towards Indians. The idyllic Indian past was linked to archetypal republican cities and depicted in Catholic sermons with republican features. Father Soto stated, "America since time immemorial had been in control of herself. Governed by its own laws so wisely, so politically, so organized such as Crete, Sparta, Rome and Greece, formed a large and wealthy nation" (Soto, 1816, p. 166). The Indian political organization was described as a prosperous and rightful nation. In other Catholic sermons, Pre-Hispanic America is compared with the Republic of Plato and with the Republic of Thomas Moore--Utopia (Neirot, 1812, p. 15). These republican features attached to an Indian past were deployed to signal the significant civic qualities Indians had before the abuses of Spanish conquerors.

The fall from heaven was represented by the period of Spanish Colonial domination. In South America, this miserable recent past started with the Spanish conquest. The Catholic sermons reflect how, suddenly, the peaceful and civilized past was drastically crushed by the Spanish conquest. The Father Juan Antonio Neirot, during a funeral sermon for the deceased patriotic soldiers after the battle in Tucuman against the Spanish army, claims, "Amid the enjoyment of such happiness the Spaniards appeared. Oh miserable days! Since that time, the American paradise began to become the most lamentable theater of blood, ruin, and desolation" (Neirot, 1812, vol. 1 p. 15).

The Catholic sermons describe widely how the Spanish conquest brought misery and slavery to America and Indians. Father Gregorio Funes explains, "The great Colon by discovering the New World and becoming an instrument of ambitious kings, opened the way to insatiable conquerors who devoured lands and men" (Funes, 1814, p. 68). The amount and scope of disasters brought by the Spanish conquest varies in different sermons, but all the republican sermons describe the Spanish domination as obscure and unfair. Such descriptions of the recent Spanish past triggered in individuals a specific range of feelings such as fear against Spain and joyful thoughts about the recent revolution. Individuals were emotionally compelled to place themselves close to the innocent Indians and against the wretched and selfish Spaniards. In fact, the articulation of an historical narrative that emphasized Spanish abuses had a crucial role validating the pureness and fairness of the Argentinean revolution. By linking the fall from heaven with the injustices and crimes committed by Spaniards, the Catholic sermons produced a 'common sense' way of thinking: the Revolution was a charitable enterprise that should be supported by all the honorable people. (9)

The forging of a specific historical consciousness has to be considered as a strategy in the production of citizenry (Friedrich, 2010). In fact, throughout the sermons, many times the Argentinean revolution was called holy and described as a 'political regeneration' (Funes, 1814, p. 52) that restored Pre-Hispanic peace and fairness in America. Hence, the proclaimed goal of republicans was to restore the Indian civic ideals of the Incas that, following the religious sermons, very much resembled archetypal Greek and Roman Republics. The understanding of republicans' mission in the Jeremiad had consequences in the ways republicans from Argentina understood themselves and their initial positive attitudes toward indians.

Following the Catholic periodization, the Argentinean Jeremiad constructed a specific narrative about the present linked to the future. The exhortation below is a clear example of an Argentinean Jeremiad. (10) The Jeremiad inspired fears in early republican citizens through familiar images: chains, slavery, and misery. In the midst of the battles against Spanish armies, Fray Pantaleon Garcia preached a Thanksgiving sermon:

Virtues make nations prosperous, and sins make nations miserable, delivering them to the yoke of the enemy who assaults them. If we are not faithful to our God, let us fear the same fate, (...) If we are unfaithful to our God we will return to our chains, and the enemy shall tread our soil; the free, independent, and sovereign America will be a slave again. (Pantaleon Garcia, 1818, p. 288)

These images were used to provoke specific thoughts and feelings in Argentineans. Fidelity towards God would decide the liberty or not from Spain. If citizens were faithful to God, the future would be a peaceful republican one. The future of the republic was linked to present actions of the citizens and depicted with salvific connotations. The Father Pacheco expresses,

Listen carefully to the blessings (...) in favor of the homeland of the virtuous and abhorring the nation of criminals: I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit (...) I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. (Pacheco, 1817, p. 235)

A republican future with independence, peace, and sovereignty would happen only if the nation was inhabited by virtuous citizens. However, if the citizens' actions were not virtuous, God would execute the revenge and tragedies would befall to the republic. Peace was not expressed in a metaphoric sense. During such years, the republican army was fighting against the Spanish army in the north of the country. Just as in Catholicism, the present life and the future salvation or condemnation were inextricable linked to each other. The early Argentinean Republic constructed a republican timeline but its principles were still shaped by a Catholic periodization of time.

Secularization of Catholicism and Sacralization of Republicanism (11)

The creation of the citizen in the Argentinean Republic was directed to the interior of the person and embodied a revisioning of the Church's notion of the soul. I understand the soul not as a stable religious essence or supra natural substance but as the inner dispositions of the subject. Nowadays, instead of the soul, modern pedagogy prefers to speak about the governing of the conduct, personality, relationships, and emotions of the child. All these inner dispositions became the target of schooling and pedagogical psychology that renders the child observable and governable (Popkewitz, 2004, p. 5). This inner space of the subject is what I call soul.

The republican Catholic sermons describe how Catholic virtues moved to narratives about the republican "ideal" citizen. A couple of years after the May Revolution, Father Miguel del Corro states, "Christian virtues are the best ornaments of the citizen, and without Christian virtues no one can please God or be useful to the country and his fellows" (Calixto del Corro, 1819, p. 310). Surprisingly, Father Miguel del Corro chose the word 'useful' to talk about the role of Catholic virtues. In the Catholic tradition, 'useful' can never be used as an adjective or category to describe religious virtues. Catholic virtues such as the cardinal ones: prudence, justice, temperance and courage are considered intrinsically valuable. Catholic virtues were the signal of the good citizen and actually the best ornament of citizenship. As Father Miguel del Corro stated, being faithful to the Lord and useful to the Republic were entangled elements. Catholic virtues appear subordinated to the goals of the Republic, but the inscriptions of virtues were connected and embodied in the republicanism and its citizen.

The assemblage of Catholic narratives, with English utilitarian ideas, forged a citizen who should be virtuous in order to be useful to the Republic. The process of secularization of Catholic virtues relates to European utilitarian ideas that were in vogue in Buenos Aires. The utilitarian doctrines were well known in South America through the extensive set of encounters and letters that Jeremy Bentham, the English philosopher, had with Republican leaders such as Simon Bolivar or Bernardino Rivadavia. Bentham's utilitarian social ideas (Williford, 1980; Harris, 1998) transformed the previous Catholic rhetoric establishing a mundane context, utilitarian, useful to the early republic. Fray Pedro Luis Pacheco explains, "Our patriotism will never be true, or useful to the great efforts it has made our common mother [Argentina], if it is not clothed with the great virtues that should attract the abundant blessings of the Lord" (Pacheco, 1817, p. 233). Not surprisingly, the same discursive processes that secularized or "republicanized" Catholic narratives also triggered the sacralization or "catholization" of republicanism. Though Catholic virtues became valued in service of republican ideas, the merge of republicanism and the theological went even further. Suddenly, throughout the Catholic sermons, republicanism was described as a holy reality, as a "sacred fire." In 1821, Fray Cayetano Rodriguez, during the funeral sermon of the national hero, Manuel Belgrano, one of the Founding Fathers of Argentina, states: "You have seen Belgrano displaying that ardent love to his country, that sacred fire, which was the soul of all its actions, and the germ of prodigious public virtues" (Cayetano Rodriguez, p. 122). Republicanism is described as a divine reality that allowed Belgrano to be perceived as having prodigious public virtues. In Catholic tradition, the sacred fire is the image depicted to describe the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles, the sacred fire is the Holy Spirit that God gave to his disciples. The sacred fire eventually gave the Apostles the strength and power to teach the gospel all around the world.

Already in the initial years after the Revolution, the love of republicanism was engraved by God, on the very substance of the soul. The ontology of early republicanism was a reality established by God and therefore, a holy or metaphysical reality by itself. The sacralization of republicanism can be perceived in the funeral sermon of Father Cayetano Rodriguez, who was a renowned Father and who signed the Declaration of Independence (1816). Cayetano Rodrigez says, "The love of the nation is engraved on the very substance of the soul by the same hand that gives us existence" (Pantaleon Garcia, p. 188).

At the same time that religious narratives became secularized, Republican narratives became sacralized and were described as holy realities created by God. The sacralization of republicanism implied that being a republican required the explicit assistance of God. The rationality of such dependence lays in Catholic theology. In Catholic theology, individuals only acquire the Holy Spirit or sacred fire as a gift of God. Hence, the consequence of such a theological nuance is that people cannot achieve true republicanism without God's assistance. This theological nuance is important because it affects the notions of a citizen's agency and power. If republicanism is a gift from God, the power of the citizen is limited. On the other hand, if republicanism is merely a human virtue, the agency of the individual is crucial to becoming a republican. In North America, Calvinist tradition shaped the agency of the individual in a different way--stronger than Catholicism--shaping a different understanding of republicanism and its citizen.

Agency and the Republic

Since republicanism was shaped with Catholic narratives, such an assemblage brought continuities. For example, the colonial Catholic notion of agency moved to the Republican citizen in specific ways. The Spanish Catechism of the State asserts:

Q: What should we revere in princes?

A: The authority and the power that is attached to the authority

Q: What respect is due to the princes?

A: Respect interior and exterior, for which we do not look at them as men, but the degree of civil hierarchy in which God has placed them.

Q: Which obligations are implied in such respect?

A: Submission to authority, obedience to its laws, its orders and all that the princess could wish unless if clearly against the Law of God.... The good vassal ... simply obeys with good faith and without giving entry to malignant reflections of the so-called freedom. (Villanueva, 1793, p. 86)

This passage reflects the boundaries and fragility in which those acts are to occur. The power relations between the authority and the individual are described through the relations between the king and the vassal. The agency of the colonial subject was extremely weak because autonomy and self-reflection were considered evil skills.

The surprise is that the patriotic Catechism portrays a very similar picture regarding agency and power relations. Around 1810, with the defeat of Spain at hands of Napoleon and the imprisonment of King Ferdinand VII, the first patriotic government was elected in Argentina. One of the lectures of the patriotic Catechism tackles the issue of the Juntas and their authority:

Question: Tell me, sons, is there somebody who has to rule us?

Answer: Yes, Father, there is He who has to rule us.

Q: How many have to rule us?

A: Just one.

Q: Where is He who has to rule us?

A: In Spain, in Chile, and any place.

Q: Who is He who has to rule us?

A: The people and their representatives, and the city government, which are three and the same thing ... (Quoted in Cucuzza, 1997: 7-8)

There is an analogy between the "Trinitarian" religious structure with the three divine persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and at the same time one God; and the republican structure, with the people, the representatives, and the city government and "the three at the same time." This analogy is quite straightforward. However, a common mistake would be to suppose that once the specific religious content was replaced by republican notions, these patriotic Catechisms would be only a didactic tool acting as scaffolding to introduce new liberal ideas. On the contrary, these catechisms are technologies to examine how the development of the Argentinean citizen was historically possible through a particular reason in which religious elements had a key role.

The two "opposite" catechisms (royal-republican) have similar notions of the individual, agency, and knowledge. For instance, in both catechisms, individuals were perceived as calculable, manageable bodies but not as calculating, self-administered selves. Their role was only to learn the correct answer, without any subjective participation in the process (Dussel, 2010). Additionally, both catechisms share a conception of knowledge as something passive to be reduced to small units. Finally, memorization is regarded as the unique path to achieve/learn that content. The example of patriotic catechisms shows how a specific Catholic religious reason travels from a religious sphere to civic education, producing continuities (notion of individual, agency, knowledge) and discontinuities (notion of civil authority, civic engagement,) that go far beyond the transmission of "facts".

The republican Catholic sermons also describe the republican citizen as a powerless subject, resembling the relationship between the king and the vassal. In the republican Catholic sermon preached during the seventh anniversary of the May Revolution, Fray Pedro Luis Pacheco depicts a monarchical notion of agency in the Republican citizen:

It is a wise [republican] patriot who is resolved, as he should be, to serve his nation, in childhood and good reputation, in exaltation or depression, paid or unattended with equal joy, as an enlisted soldier or as a general, who obeys promptly and practices without a murmur the most arduous assignments of his immediate superiors, worshiping all authorities in the lordship of the God. (Pacheco, 1817, p. 240)

Like the Spanish Catechism and the patriotic Catechism, this statement has a weak notion of agency and reflects how colonial Catholic notions of agency and authority moved to republicanism. The extent of heroism required to become a wise patriot has religious resemblances. Such heroic notions of republicanism were drawn from Catholic exhortations that aimed to foster holiness in believers. The obedience that early monarchical Catholic narratives expected from vassals, republicanism now asked of citizens. The strength and power of the republican authority implies that without slight murmurs republican authorities shall be worshipped as divinity. Within this perspective, citizens were perceived as manageable bodies but not as self-administered selves. In the early Argentinean Republic, the role of the citizen regarding civil engagement was reduced only to one who would accept the orders of immediate superiors, without any subjective participation in the process. In sum, although the institutional obedience to the Spanish king was under discussion, the compliance towards civil authority was considered one of the most important virtues in the monarchical catechism and in the Catholic republican sermons and catechism.

Spaniards, Creoles, Indians and the Silence of African Americans

While in the previous section I tackled the reason that shaped the republican citizen, I now describe the citizenship status that Spaniards, Creoles, Indians and Blacks had during the transition from the Spanish authority to the nascent Republic. Citizenship status is not just about different cognitive terms but sentiments. A whole set of attitudes, feelings and dispositions are produced within the same subjects through the construction of a human hierarchy. In the early republican hierarchy, Spaniards were constructed as the main enemy with evil features. Indians were described with soul but without citizenship, and, finally, the role of African Americans in the early republic was completely ignored by liberal historiography. Within this classification, the Creole Argentinean republican citizen emerged as a pious male soldier with minimal agency and who favored strong notions of obedience to authority. Since I analyze a time of political transition, I first describe the previous Spanish monarchical human hierarchy. The catechism of the State supported the Spanish supremacy above all the others, and it argued against Rousseau's ideas about equality.

Q: Does public authority lay on any contract made by the inferiors with the superiors?

A: No. The sovereign authority of princesses does not depend on any contract authority made with their subjects but from the will and providence of God. The existence of principalities in civil society is the work of the Divine Providence which has superiors and inferiors, those who command and those who obey. (Villanueva, 1793, p. 88)

The Spanish king was the device through which God's will was deployed. This hierarchical stratification of subjects was a vertical one and placed most of the power in the authority. Father Gregorio Funes criticizes the distinction that existed between the Creoles, those who were born in South America by Spanish parents and the 'real' Spaniards, who were born in Spain,

The tyranny of Spain separated patrician Europeans [from Creoles] creating two lineages, one fortunate one and the other one unfortunate.... The posts of profit and power had fallen almost always on those who had the good fortune to be born across the sea. (Funes, 1814; quoted by Carranza, 1907, p. 80)

The passage reflects the construction of distinctions that divided people through the manner in which the citizen was related to sovereignty. In Colonial South America, place of birth acted as a citizenship marker. While being born in South America was unfortunate, being born in Europe was a necessary condition to becoming a citizen. In sum, "the other" was everyone who was not Spanish. During the Spanish domination, Creoles were not considered as full citizens. In fact, up to the revolution, only Spaniards were considered citizens with full rights. Such status of citizenship was related to everyday issues of power. In fact, the best and more profitable jobs in Buenos Aires were assigned to Spaniards. As an example of such Colonial perspective, the Spanish bishop in Buenos Aires, Benito Lue y Riega, claimed three days before the revolt, "While one Spaniard would live in the Americas, that Spaniard should govern the Americans" (quoted by Bustamante, 1947).

During the time of the birth of the Republic, such discourses about the other started to be challenged. Since republicanism aimed to foster a more homogenous society, previous colonial human hierarchies began to melt. The first republican government supported the social and civic equality of Indians (Margulis, 1999). In the famous Assembly of 1813, republicans abolished all forms of slavery and personal servitude. The republican Catholic sermons describe the gradual shift from a profoundly stratified society to a more homogeneous one. In the initial years after the revolution, the paradigmatic case of such homogenization was the debate around the Indians and their role in society. The classification of Indians was very controversial because centuries of Spanish domination made the rights of Indians a controversial topic. Around 1814 Father Gregorio Funes states:

Yes, citizens, legislators, contradict Spain pointing out that Indians are more than imperfect animals, and if Spaniards persist in their mania, educate the Indians cultivating their spirit, and Spaniards will glorify you because you know how to make men from beasts. (Funes, 1814, p. 77)

The fact that Indians were not considered humans allowed Spaniards to treat Indians cruelly. In the early Argentinean Republic, although Indians were not considered citizens, the Catholic sermons supported the fact that Indians did have a soul. Hence, Indians were able to be saved through Baptism. In such a context, the Indian past was acknowledged as an American legacy, and Beruti's memories describe how, in 1812, four children were dressed in Indians customs for a singing performance (quoted by Halperin Donghi, p. 184). Still, Indians were far from being considered citizens.

Suddenly, a certain notion of equality, absent in the State Catechism, was portrayed throughout the Catholic sermons. In 1817, Father Felipe Iriarte, during a thanksgiving after a military victory of the republican army, claims:

It is evident that no matter the subordination that all authority demands from the citizen, it is a crucial duty of such authority to respect the inalienable prerogatives of human's beings. Those prerogatives constitute a fundamental equality between the rulers and those who obey. Equality of nature, equality of supernatural privileges, and equal eternal destiny. (Iriarte, 1817, p. 273)

While in the Spanish Catechism the equality of individuals was clouded to highlight vertical social stratification, in the Republican Catholic sermons, equality was the underpinning normative assumption. Theological reasons, though different from the ones in the Catechism of the State, such as the equal eternal destiny, were given to support a more republican notion of equality. In the transition from being a Spanish colony to an independent country, a more progressive Catholic notion of equality helped to transform the power relations in the early Argentinean Republic.

Regarding citizenship status, the absences are also relevant. No matter the fact that in Buenos Aires Afro-Argentines constituted thirty percent of the population in 1806, throughout the Catholic sermons (seven hundred pages of speeches), I did not find one reference to persons of African descent. And what is more surprising about this silence is the fact that the government passed, in 1813, the Freedom of Wombs Law, establishing that all the children born from slaves would be considered free citizens. In contrast to the Indians or to the Creoles, the status quo of Blacks was not an issue in the analyzed compilation of Catholic sermons. Following the research of George Reid Andrews (1980), the The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900, the explanation of such silence is straightforward: the "disappearance" of African Americans as opposed to Indians could be explained by the effort of later liberal historiography to depict Argentina as white and European. Carranza's edition (12) of the analyzed Catholic sermons from 1907 can be included in such a liberal tradition that aimed to whiten the ''glorious" Argentinean past. Recent studies of scholars such as Alex Borucky (2004) and Silvia Mallo (2010) portrayed a broader and more nuanced description of the presence and sociability of African Americans during nascent Argentina.


This essay argues against mainstream approaches that emphasize the radical opposition between the secular and the theological in the construction of the republican citizen. The analysis of pedagogical devices--Catholic sermons and Catechisms--are examples of how republicans were able to order and make "sense" of the political changes, only through specific discursive patterns from Catholicism. In spite of the enormous relevance of political and institutional changes during those years, the Catholic sermons and the patriotic Catechism demonstrate that specific Catholic narratives were crucial in giving intelligibility to the emerging republican citizen. In fact, the construction of the republican citizen draws upon different discourses from within Catholic narratives in the initial years after the revolution. Specific Catholic notions of agency, historical time, and space were re-introduced as pedagogical principles in the understanding of the nascent republican citizen. These religious narratives disentangled from the institutional Church to become part of republican narratives. Catholic sermons and civic patriotic catechism are technologies of such processes, and anticipate how such reenactments of religious narratives would take place in Argentinean schools years later.

The nascent Republic acquired salvific features from Catholicism. Previous Catholic images such as the Garden of Eden, the Promised Land and the early Christian church lent their salvific connotations to the Republic. The Republic was transformed into a salvific space giving intelligibility to the republican project. The sacralization of the Republic was so stark that to some extent it is still present. The republicanization of time was also possible through Catholic narratives, the Jeremiad. The nascent republican citizen was placed within a consensual timeline, based upon a Catholic periodization of time. This pervasive historical timeline aimed to depict the Indian past as an ideal stage--life in Paradise; the recent Spanish past as dark and unfair due to original sin and the fall--and, finally, through the Jeremiad, portrayed a very weak and unstable republican present. This profoundly religious republican timeline was effective in articulating the fears of the Spaniards while instilling hopes in republican ideals.

In such a transition, there were continuities and discontinuities. As an example of continuities, during the early Republic, the notion of agency present in the Spanish colonial discourses moved to the Republic. The Catholic sermons and the patriotic Catechism describe how qualities of the early Argentinean republican citizen, strong obedience and weak agency, which were frequently promoted in colonial Catholicism, were incorporated into the Argentinean republican citizen. Both intersecting discourses, the colonial and the republican ones, shaped a powerless subject who should obediently comply with authority. As an example of discontinuities, the transition from being a Spanish colony to an independent Republic brought to the fore a more progressive, though within Catholicism, notion of equality. The emergence of equality shifted previous Spanish Colonial hierarchies. Republicanism aimed to forge a somehow more unifying society, positioning equality at the center. Nevertheless, the assemblage of the Argentinean Republican citizen came within a whole new hierarchy of subjects (13) (Halperin Donghi, 1972, p. 185).

In sum, a dual process took place in early Argentinean Republic: the sacralization of republicanism and the secularization of Catholic narratives. Catholic sermons describe how republicanism appropriated Catholic narratives becoming a holy reality created by the hand of God and engraved in the soul of citizens. The sacralization of republicanism acted as a shield to avoid any criticism and probably was a source of social legitimization for the early republic. In the same movement, Catholic sermons reflect a pragmatization of religious narratives. For example, descriptions of Catholic virtues as useful show how the transcendental horizon of Catholicism became materialistic. Finally, the assemblage of Catholic narratives and republican elements shows the extent to which Catholic discourses were crucial in the assembly of historical practices that gave birth to an Argentinean Republican citizen. The borders between the religious and the secular, the believer and the citizen, were very much blurred and unclear in the early Argentinean republicanism.


Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina;

Universidad de San Andres


(1.) For the sake of the argument, I will refer to Argentina as a political "unity" although it had different and changing geographical limits throughout the last two centuries. Originally called Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata (1810), then called as Republica Argentina (1826), later known as Confederation Argentina--during the Rosas' government and the promulgation of the Constitution of 1853 (1835-1853). Only after a long political debate, since 1860 the term Argentinean Republic will emerge as the definite one (Chiaramonte, Marichal, & Granados Garcia, 2008, p. 91). In a similar vein, throughout the research, I refer to the Argentinean citizenship as a set of practices that shaped citizenry and happened in a specific geographically territory, today called Argentina.

(2.) The State Catechism had several versions in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, etc. (Ocampo Lopez, 2010).

(3.) Adolfo Carranza, founder and director of the Argentinean Historical National Museum. He wrote several books such as "Leyendas Nacionales" (1894) and "Homenajes Patrioticos" (1900) in which he aimed to compile and to give life to national heroes. In the prologue the author says that the book is "of evident historical value to all the lovers of good and of own" (p. II). The author member of the Commission that organized the festivities of 1910 can be identified with the emerging nationalistic trend that highlighted the Hispanic tradition as essential to the Argentinean identity. See (Costa, 2010), who describes the role of Adolfo Carranza in the preparation of the festivities of the Centenary (1910).

(4.) For more details about the role of priests during the revolution see Calvo, Stefano, & Gallo, (2002)

(5.) Hector Cucuzza & Pineau, (2005) explains that the elites poignantly realized the efficiency of Catechisms to transmit knowledge. Besides, the authors describe how throughout the twentieth century the secular pedagogical liturgy adopts the forms of the religious liturgy (cap. 3).

(6.) The catechisms have a long tradition in Europe as religious books aimed to teach Christian doctrine, with a methodology of questions and answers to be memorized. The proliferation of catechisms supporting the emancipation movement or in favor of the Spanish monarchy has its antecedent in the European religious struggles of the sixteenth century with the controversy gained by the Large and Small Catechism of Luther (1529). This catechism criticized the Catholic Church hierarchy and later had its counterpart in the Roman Catechism (1566) approved by the Council of Trent (Cucuzza, 2011).

(7.) For the sake of the argument I refer to Argentina as a political "unity" although it had different and changing geographical limits throughout the last two centuries. In a similar vein, throughout the research, I refer to the Argentinean citizenship as a set of practices that shaped citizenry and happened in a specific geographically territory, today called Argentina.

(8.) See Fray Juan Esteban Soto (1816) quoted by Carranza, 1907, p. 166; 261

(9.) In order to construct such consensual narrative the Catholic sermons had to differentiate the Spanish Catholic kings from the true Catholicism. As I explained earlier, these two different elements--Spanish kings and Catholicism--were enacted in South America as one entity. With an absolute majority of Catholics in South America, the patriotic priests had the task of emphasizing the distinction between true Catholicism--understood as the primitive Christian church--and the Spanish kings with their wicked and corrupted policies. The distinction between the primitive church and the Roman Church, was also present in European Enlightenment figures such as Locke or Rousseau. Such distinctions helped republicans to separate Catholicism from the Spanish king.

(10.) The sermon of Fray Pedro Luis Pacheco (1817) is another example of an Argentinean Jeremiad (Carranza, 1907, vol. 234).

(11.) In some countries such as Mexico the broader term "patriots" usually refers to all the people who support the independence from Spain; while the term "citizen" only appears years later. In this classification, citizen was attributed to a person who was active and had full of rights (Baeza, 1996, p. 527). On the contrary, in the analyzed Argentinean case, the analysis of the Catholic sermons shows how both terms, citizen and patriot, are used interchangeably. This fact supports the thesis of Baeza, since the May Revolution (1810) and the Declaration of Independence (1816) are chronologically very close.

(12.) Bertoni (2001, p. 291) pointed out the fact that during the debate about the construction of a monument honoring Falucho, a Black soldier of the Independence, as a national hero, Carranza praised the role of Blacks in the independence war. Hence, the absence of Blacks in the Catholic Sermons might be related to their role and presence in distinguished religious celebrations. Probably, Blacks were not the target of the priest's sermons during the solemn national religious celebrations.

(13.) The work of Halperin describes how the revolution uses the term "gente decente" in several decrees describing the resilience of previous social categories in the nascent republican order.


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Author:Caride, Ezequiel Gomez
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Geographic Code:3ARGE
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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