November 16, 2011 "The Quest for an Elusive Continental Ideal" Lecture, Dec. 8

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: John W. Kluge Center (202) 707-3302
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Ricardo V. Luna, former ambassador of Peru to the United States, will talk about the efforts of thinkers and leaders from North America and Latin America to develop a definition of a single Western culture across the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Luna, a distinguished visiting scholar at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will present “The Quest for an Elusive Continental Ideal” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 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.

According to Luna, the ideal of a single hemispheric identity has captivated thinkers and statesmen for more than two centuries, whether conceived as a work-in-progress (Simon Bolivar) or a system “unto itself” (Thomas Jefferson). Shifting trends in thought are present not only in the time of Bolivar and Jefferson, but also in the times of Benito Juárez and Abraham Lincoln, José Marti and Theodore Roosevelt, 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 will examine preconceptions about each culture, such as the “black legend” of Spanish domination of South America and the “exceptionalism” of the United States.

Luna was appointed in July by the Librarian of Congress as a distinguished visiting scholar at the Kluge Center, where he is studying the intellectual history of hemispheric political and cultural links.

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.

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


PR 11-225
ISSN 0731-3527