The Millennial New World

The Millennial New World

The Millennial New World

The Millennial New World

Synopsis

Much has been written about millennialism in the U.S. and its European roots. But although it is widely recognized that millennialism is also endemic to Latin America, until now there has been no systematic study of this phenomenon as it has flourished in that part of the world. Graziano here offers the first such study, examining Latin American millennialism from its Iberian and indigenous antecedents to present social, revolutionary, religious, and political movements.

Excerpt

Ideologies and actions regarded variously as apocalyptic, messianic, millennial, and utopian have been prevalent in Latin America, as in much of the world, throughout the course of its history. Although the noted qualifiers tend to be used indiscriminately and, even when carefully applied, seem ambiguous, they nevertheless together designate a complex of cultural, social, religious, and political phenomena that hold identifiable attributes in common. My intent, following a succinct sorting of definitions, is to briefly catalog those attributes as an introduction to their illustration and analysis in the chapters that follow. It will become clear that the emphasis is on the syncretic post-conquest cases that predominate in the source material; that no individual case necessarily comprises all features of the generic composite; and that a certain suspension of nuance is necessary to collectively describe related but varied phenomena drawn from interacting African, American, and European cultures over a period of a thousand years. Such breadth likewise demands that the study as a whole make no claim to a comprehensive or exhaustive treatment. I intend an exposition more than an argument, pursuing the themes of millennialism across a range of representative cases and drawing conclusions only in passing. If overtly millennial ideologies and actions are considered beside those manifesting only nuanced suggestions, if nativist shamans, European kings, sect messiahs, and populists turn up with something in common, it is not to suggest that they are reducible to some secret essence, that they are equally important, or that their cultural and historical contexts are insignificant. The themes under discussion are dynamic precisely because the varied subject matter is permitted to speak through--not despite--the obvious differences.

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