Iris Zavala argues that Hispanic modernism is an emancipatory narrative of self-representation. Out of Cuba's struggles against Spanish and U.S. colonialism, modernism emerged among the Hispanic intelligentsia as an attempt to create a collective narrative rejecting colonial cultural patterns.
Hispanic modernism crusaded for a cosmopolitanism opposed to colonialism. The work of José Martí, Rubén Darío, Valle-Inclán, Unamuno and Julián del Casal rejects a hegemonic idea of progress and the imposition of alien political and cultural practices. Through a poetics of negation, they generated a revolutionary social and artistic awakening that resulted in the unprecedented cultural achievments of Hispanic modernism.