Abstract

This article examines the Roto Chileno war memorial in downtown Santiago as a complex site of Chilean identity making in the republican era. Conflating two separate nineteenth-century military victories over the combined forces of Bolivia and Peru, the memorial was a physical manifestation of an intricate process of identity construction that celebrated the mestizo heritage of average citizen-soldiers while also emphasizing the idea that Chileans were racially superior compared to other South American nations. The memorial being dedicated specifically to the roto, a mutable racialized term that can be perceived as pejorative even in the present, is therefore an especially evocative example of how this conceptual combination was visually rendered to access elements of white identity. Using fine art media coverage, this article highlights the entangled relationship between memory, nationalism, and race in late nineteenth-century Latin America to consider the role that militarism and masculinity play in the construction of whiteness.

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