Latin America is a collective name of a group of countries and dependent territories located in the Western Hemisphere, and the use of Spanish and Portuguese languages dominates there. The term “Latin America” for the first time was used in 1856. There are various interpretations of the appearance of the idea of this region. From one point of view, the history of Latin America should be viewed within the principle of modernity. The second possible opinion implies that this term reflects coloniality and the process of decolonization more than the paradigm of modernity. The current paper discusses the mentioned variations of understanding of Latin America.
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As it was mentioned in the introduction, Latin America, if it is estimated through the concept of modernity, is not a newly emerged phenomenon. Instead, it is the extension of the initial invention of America, which was not discovered but rather devised by the European colonizers. Such a vision diminishes the importance of geopolitics and emphasizes the significance of the decolonization movement (Mignolo, 2009). Taking into consideration this reading of Mignolo’s writing, it could be supposed that he tries to separate the territorial location of Latin America from its name. This inference appears since the process of decolonization affected not only the Western hemisphere but also the African region and Oceania.
The second possible interpretation of the concept of Latin America is performed in the “paradigm of co-existence” (Mignolo, 2009, p. 19) and impugns the notion of historical progress. Compared with the previously discussed point of view, the current one pays attention to the phenomenon of decolonization as well. At the same time, this vision treats the history of Latin America separately from one of Europe.
To sum up, these two perspectives are not contradictory but complementary. The initial appearance and the further history of Latin America have a close connection with the process of modernization, political evolution, and the history of European states. Simultaneously, this region could not be separated from the geographical position since it also contributes to its development. Therefore, these two visions are better not to be separated but united because each of them reduces the significance of either history or geography, which undoubtedly influence the history of Latin America.
Mignolo, W. D. (2009). The idea of Latin America. John Wiley & Sons.