Ricardo V. Luna, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center and former Ambassador of Peru to the Unites States, will describe the efforts of thinkers and leaders from North and Latin America to achieve a commonsense definition of a single Western culture across the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
His lecture, “The Quest for an Elusive Continental Ideal,” will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.
Luna will examine preconceptions about each culture, such as the “black legend” of Spanish domination of South America, and the “exceptionalism” of the United States. “These two legends are self- enforcing and have dictated the process of convergence,” he says.
Whether conceived as a work-in-progress (Simon Bolivar) or a system “unto itself” (Thomas Jefferson), the ideal of a single hemispheric identity has captivated thinkers and statesmen for more than two centuries. Shifting trends in thought are present not only in the time of Bolivar and Jefferson but also in the times of José Marti and Theodore Roosevelt, Benito Juárez and Abraham Lincoln, and Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy.
North American politicians and specialists as well as Latin American elites have stimulated the discourse concerning hemispheric identity. Luna suggests that to better understand vague notions of a single culture, it is important to penetrate these discourses on identity and to demystify stereotypes.
Luna served as Peru’s ambassador to the United States from 1992 to 1999. He was the Peruvian ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992, and ambassador to the Court of St. James, London, from 2006 to 2010. He has taught international relations at Brown, Columbia, Tufts, Harvard and Princeton universities and the University of San Martín de Porres in Lima, focusing on United States-Latin American relations and Andean governance. He graduated from Princeton University in 1962, earned a Master of International Affairs degree at Columbia University in 1964 and entered the diplomatic service of Peru in 1966.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 147 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.
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