Paula Alonso Gortari


François Chevalier Fellow

George Washington University

The promotion of democracy between Spain and Latin America: “El Americano” and the construction of transatlantic networks at the end of the 19th century


Paula Alonso is Associate Professor at George Washington University and specialises in the political history of Latin America, principally Argentina. In her work, “politics” has a broad sense that includes the traditional areas of institutions, political parties, citizenship and electoral systems; the cultural world of publications (including pamphlets, newspapers, images), rituals, practices and representations; and ideological struggles to impose a particular vision of history and society. Her current research focuses on the history of democracy. She received her Ph.D. from Oxford University, has taught at universities in England, Argentina (where she was also a researcher at CONICET) and the United States, and is a corresponding member of the National Academy of History of Argentina. She is the author of several monographs, edited books, journal articles and collaborations, and her research projects have received funding from, among others, the Leverhulme Trust and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung.


Research project 

This project analyses the promotion and circulation of ideas on democracy and the construction of networks for the exchange of political thought that took place in the second half of the 19th century between Spain and Latin America. This objective is studied, more specifically, through the professional relationship and friendship established between the Spanish historian, journalist and politician Emilio Castelar (1832-1899) and the Rio de la Plata journalist Héctor Florencio Varela (1833- 1891). It focuses on El Americano. Ilustrado, político, literario, a weekly publication (as well as a series of calendars or almanacs) published between 1872 and 1874. It was a printed project developed with the aim of promoting democratic principles on both sides of the Atlantic. The research is related to studies on democracy and the circulation of ideas, and intervenes in the methodological debates of global history and the history of knowledge, analysing the scope and limitations of transatlantic intellectual relations and networks.


Selected publications

- 2023 “Political cultures and practices in Spanish American Cities”, with Marcela Ternavasio, in Eduardo Posada-Carbó, Joanna Innes and Mark Philp, Re-imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1870-1870, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 186-214.

- 2010, Jardines secretos, legitimaciones públicas. El Partido Autonomista Nacional y la política argentina de fin del siglo xix, Buenos Aires, Ed. Edhasa.

- 2007, “Ideological Tensions in the Foundational Decade of “Modern Argentina”. The Political Debates of the 1880s”, Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 87, N.1, 3-41.

- 2000, Between Revolution and the Ballot Box. The Origins of the Argentine Radical Party in the 1890s, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, Revised and translated as Entre la revolución y las urnas. Los orígenes de la Unión Cívica Radical y la política argentina en los años noventa, Buenos Aires, Ed. Sudamericana/Universidad de San Andrés, 2000.

- 2003 Editor, Construcciones impresas. Panfletos, diarios y revistas en la formación de los estados nacionales en América Latina, 1820-1920, Buenos Aires, Fondo de Cultura Económica.