Borderlands and Public Violence in a Shadow Polity

Costa Ricans, Nicaraguans and the Legacy of the Central American Federation
  • Robert H. Holden


Historians have long claimed Central America’s configuration as the Western Hemisphere’s land bridge between the oceans to be the most consequential feature of the region’s physical geography. The history of Central America’s exceptionally complex political geography, however, seems to have attracted much less interest. Among the most politically fragmented areas of the world for the past century and a half, Central America nevertheless can claim an even older and longer history of political unity, which in turn has never ceased to nourish a strong desire for reunification. Just how those legacies of initial unity, subsequent fragmentation, and the longing for reunification have shaped the state formation process in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua is a problem that still awaits its historian. This chapter approaches the problem by analyzing the borderland histories of the five countries, focusing on that of Costa Rica and Nicaragua during the Cold War both to explain and to weigh the results of a tradition of borderland-associated violence and intrigue.


National Identity Public Security Political Violence Transnational Organize Crime National Security Council 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert H. Holden
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of History, Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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