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Centenary Subjects
Race, Reason, and Rupture in the Americas

Author(s): Shawn McDaniel

Centenary Subjects examines the ideological debates and didactic exercises in subject formation during the centenary era of independence (the decade of the 1910s)—the peak of arielismo—and proposes a new reading of the arielista archive that brings into focus the racial anxieties, epistemological and spiritual fissures, and iconoclastic agendas that structure, and at times smother, the ethos of that era.

Arielismo takes its name from José Enrique Rodó’s foundational essay Ariel (1900), a wide‑ranging gospel dedicated to Latin American youth that incited a cultural awakening under the banner of the spirit throughout the Americas at an ominous juncture—when the US co-opted the Cuban War of Independence in 1898, effectively rebranding it as the Spanish‑American War. Rodó’s optimistic message of transcendence as an antidote to the encroaching empire quickly became one of the most pervasive and malleable paradigms of regional empowerment, reverberating throughout a range of Latin Americanist projects in the twentieth and twenty‑first centuries.

Centenary Subjects recovers a series of important but understudied essays penned by arielista writers, radicals, pedagogues, prophets, and politicians of diverse stripes in the early twentieth century, and analyzes how, under the auspices of the arielista platform, young people emerged as historical subjects invested with unprecedented cultural capital, increasing political power, and an urgent mandate to break with the past and transform the sociopolitical and cultural landscape of their countries. But their respective designs harbor racial, epistemological, aesthetic, and anarchistic strains that bring into sharper relief the conflicting signals that the centenary subject had to parse with respect to race, reason, and rupture.

Biography of Author(s)


  • "Significant, original, and timely. This book adds to the range of texts and ideas that can be considered as parts of Rodó’s legacy . . . [and] speaks to our current moment, even as its research contribution will very likely continue to be relevant for years to come."
    Aníbal González-Pérez, author of In Search of the Sacred Book: Religion and the Contemporary Latin American Novel