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Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Bianca Premo

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Mark D. Szuchman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Darden Pyron

Fourth Advisor's Name

Charles Bleiker


History, Education, Nationalism, Hemisphere, Argentina, United States, Boston, Buenos Aires, Atlantic, Gender, Women, Teachers, Imperialism, Cosmopolitanism, Urban History

Date of Defense



To reveal the theories and practices that linked education to the development within the cities of Boston and Buenos Aires, and in turn to the development of US and Argentina nationalism, “Cosmopolitan Imperialism” centers on two education reformers, Horace Mann (1776-1859) and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888). Mann and Sarmiento formed part of a supra-national community where liberal intellectual elites created a republic of letters, or perhaps better said, a republic of schools. As different versions of education branched out from a common Atlantic origin during the nineteenth century, Mann and Sarmiento searched for those ideas that better fit their national projects, a local project that started in the cities and moved to the interior parts of the country.

In Boston and Buenos Aires, modern nationalism intertwined with imperial projects. This dissertation thus analyzes nationalism and reform in the nineteenth-century as an imperial project led by cosmopolitan intellectual elites. While we might expect to find Mann and Sarmiento’s ideas on education to be centered on their national experiences, looking to Europe for inspiration, this dissertation shows that it was quite the opposite. Educational ideas developed within an interconnected network and traveled within the North-South axis connecting Boston with Buenos Aires. This framework moves the focus from the interchange of ideas between America and Europe and places it within the American continent. At the same time, it allows us to consider Latin American and the US as both creators and recipients of educational ideas.

There is a traditional way of talking about nationalism and reform in the nineteenth-century, especially in terms of education and educational policies. It is common to imagine that in the US, and even more certainly in Latin America, educated elites looked to the so-called West for inspiration. The argument is that they ended up adapting foreign models to their local and internal contexts. This dissertation challenges that idea and shows that different versions of education developed from a shared Atlantic milieu in which reformers in certain cities saw themselves as part of the same cosmopolitan empires.



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