Douglas Kristopher Smith
Universidad de Chile y Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile


This article outlines a series of notes and reflections on the orientalist notions of civilization in Latin American political thought, focusing on the letrados in mid-nineteenth-century Chile in the aim of interrogating the establishment of hierarchies of sociocultural legitimacy and the subjectivities that they inferiorize and marginalize in constituting themselves on the foundation of notions constructed about the other. Far from being an exhaustive study of each author mentioned, this article pinpoints the discursive parameters that condition their writing and underlie their ideas therein. The aim is, first, to demonstrate a line of thought informed by the European/French notions of the “barbarous” oriental other in opposition to the “civilized” western subject appropriated by the Latin American intellectual elite, and, second, to propose a translational approach, making it possible to better understand the contradictions inherent to the case at hand by focusing on its context of emergence.

Keywords: Civilization, Orientalism, translation, Chile, letrados.