From the Father to the Mother of the Nation: The Metamorphosis of the Politics of Commemoration in Nicaragua (1936-1997)

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation examines how the politics of commemoration illustrates the metamorphosis of the sublime bodies of the nation. Scholars around the world have demonstrated that by displaying, performing and visualizing the power of symbols, rituals and rhetoric, the politics of commemoration unveils the identification of the nation as family. Commemorations legitimize official political projects, sanction patriarchal national genealogies, monumentalize state leaders as the sublime bodies of the nation, and shape racially homogeneous nations. Together, these elements frame political transformations and continuities through time. Embracing this framework, this dissertation argues that the politics of commemorations in Nicaragua experienced a gendered, political and symbolic metamorphosis of the sublime body of the nation from 1936 to 1997.

Expanding Anderson’s model of “imagined communities,” my study identifies the “imagined nation” as a family. Instead of identifying the nation as horizontal and homogeneous political communities, nations are vertical entities. Political leaders take advantage of the symbolic and political power of the politics of commemorations to become sublime bodies of the nation, either as father or mother. My study challenges Anderson’s emphasis on nations as homogeneous entities. My work argues that the degree of homogeneity of an “imagined nation” illustrates how successful the government, elites and intellectuals, are in erasing the heterogeneity of the members of “imagined nation.”

Each political regime, from the Somocista dictatorship to the Sandinista revolution and the post-1990 neoliberal democracy institutionalized their own politics of commemoration and their own version of a sublime body of the nation. The nation becomes a hierarchical political entity, where the state leader is institutionalized as the sublime body of the nation and the citizens as political children. Citizens should demonstrate their filial devotion and loyalty toward their national leaders. The dictators of the Somocista dynasty constructed a politics of commemoration to explicitly portray themselves as the fathers of the nation. At the same time, by leading clandestine and insurrectional political commemorations, the Sandinista’s revolutionary leaders fractured and demolished the dictator as the sublime body of the nation. The Sandinista revolution (1979-1990) placed a patriotic hero, Sandino, as the Father of the Revolution. Finally, the neoliberal democracy crafted, after 1990, a Nicaraguan Mother of the Nation, Violeta Chamorro. However, despite this political and symbolic metamorphosis, Nicaragua continued holding to a harmonious and homogeneous myth for the nation by commemorating and monumentalizing Rubén Darío (1867-1916) as the “mestizo” father of Nicaragua.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04212014-103418

Author Susy Mariela Sanchez Rodriguez
Advisor Edward Beatty
Contributor Edward Beatty, Committee Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline History
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2014-03-21

Submission Date 2014-04-21
  • United States of America

  • race and commmemoration

  • gendered nation

  • anticommunism

  • central america

  • cold war

  • national days

  • neoliberalism

  • sandinista revolution

  • somoza dictatorship

  • sublime bodies

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.