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School reforms, culture wars, and national consolidation: Uruguay and Belgium, 1860s-1915

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jens R HentschkeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-ND 4.0).


Uruguay is a prime example of how a peripheral country creatively digested foreign experiences and became not only Latin America’s first welfare state democracy, but also a pioneer of free, compulsory, and lay education, the work of two political generations, positivist varelistas and Krausist batllistas. This article, based on new archival sources, contemporary newspapers, official publications, and monographs by protagonists argues that one of their consistent reference points, largely ignored in historiography, was Belgium, a country founded almost at the same time as Uruguay and admired for its liberal constitutionalism. Uruguayan reformers’ fascination with Belgium, but also their risk awareness, increased when, from the 1860s, both countries implemented conflictual secularizing school reforms that aimed at belated cultural nation-building.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hentschke JR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Historia

Year: 2023

Volume: 56

Issue: 1

Pages: 255-290

Online publication date: 31/07/2023

Acceptance date: 01/10/2022

Date deposited: 25/10/2023

ISSN (electronic): 0717-7194

Publisher: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile