Article

Spanish America After Independence, 1825-1900

Clément Thibaud

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0178
Spanish America After Independence, 1825-1900

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The independence of Spanish America was the unexpected outcome of the monarchy’s rupture following the 1808 Napoleonic invasion. It resulted in an ensemble of motley republics that were confronted by serious difficulties throughout the 19th century. Independence had, in effect, created nations with blurred boundaries and precarious identities. Above all, the legacies of the colonial era were maintained since the new republics did not abolish old Spanish law. It remained in force nearly everywhere in the region up until the end of the 19th century. Social distinctions founded on honor, labor, race, and gender had admittedly been destroyed on a constitutional level, but they still remained rooted in society. Nearly everywhere, the construction of the nation and the modern state was a task made all the more complex by the preservation of a complicated corporate framework and the affirmation of local and regional authorities’ power. Thus, the fact that the legacies of the Spanish monarchy remained very much alive in the republics until the end of the 19th century justifies the inclusion of this century within the field of Atlantic history. This bibliographical choice has selected works that illustrate the tensions particular to Spanish America throughout the republican period following the creation of the Republic of Bolivia, which marked the end of the Wars of Independence (1825). Indeed, these are divided between the desire to create a set of modern republics, founded on equal citizenship and forward progress, and the postcolonial persistence of social practices and institutions of the ancien régime. It is for this reason that so much emphasis has been placed on the 19th century herein, as political, cultural, and social episodes marked the relative, but progressive, erosion of colonial practices. The “modern” mutation of South America was thus regulated by important moments which appear in the chronological and thematic choice of the works cited: the maintenance and abolition of slavery, the granting of citizenship to Indians and Afro-descendants, yet the persistence of discriminations based on color and race; grand midcentury liberal reforms and the preservation of influence by privileged entities like the Church and the army, the difficult construction of the modern state, the nation, and democratic systems; the progressive deterioration of corporate social structures and of the fueros; and the end of the Spanish presence in Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898 and the reinsertion of Latin America into the networks of the global economy at the end of the century and, finally, a new wave of European immigration. I have hardly sketched out the economic themes in this bibliography except for in the section International Relations: From Spanish Empire to British “Informal Empire”?. These themes are fundamental to understanding the history, Atlantic or otherwise, of South America in the 19th century. Additionally, an emphasis has been placed on those political and social works that tend to be included, more or less, in an Atlantic perspective. Books in English and Spanish, the principal scientific languages in this field of study, are favored, and translations in these languages are cited where available. However, good books exist in German, Italian, French, and Portuguese, many of which deserved, in all fairness, to be included in this selection. Translated from French by Andrew H. Bellisari.

Article.  9576 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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