Patricia Londoño-Vega’s dogged archival truffling has uncovered a lush world of Catholic and secular voluntary associations in Antioquia, Colombia, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The boom in Catholic charitable organizations, religious vocations, teaching orders, and lay religious fervor convincingly challenges the timeworn portrayal of the late nineteenth century as an era of increased secularization; this finding alone should inspire a tectonic shift in the historiography and a redoubling of efforts to create a larger geography of piety in late-nineteenth-century Latin America. Moreover, Londoño-Vega’s relentless cataloguing of voluntary organizations reveals a Habermasian bent, yet her interpretation of this data is decidedly unorthodox. Her theme is neither the flowering of democratic practices within these groups, nor the development of an independent and critical political sphere outside of a weak and fragmentary state. Rather, she claims that Antioquia’s dense web of sociability bound...

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