‘Disguised slavery’: debt peonage in Chiapas, 1876–1914

Sarah Washbrook

in Producing Modernity in Mexico

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780197264973
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754128 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

‘Disguised slavery’: debt peonage in Chiapas, 1876–1914

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This chapter analyzes the institution of debt peonage in Chiapas during the Porfiriato. The first section examines Porfirian debates regarding the relationship between debt peonage, slavery, and market development in Chiapas. The second section addresses the economics and economic rationality of debt peonage. The third section focuses on the legal foundations of rural peonage and domestic servitude in the state. The fourth section tackles the issue of coercion and consent and the ‘popular legitimacy’ of debt peonage. The final section looks at the issue of debt peonage in Chiapas after the resignation of President Díaz, comparing the legislative proposals of local politicians with those of the Constitutionalists who descended on the state in 1914, and underlining the significance of the institution during the years of Mexico's armed Revolution (1910–20).

Keywords: Porfiriato; slavery; market development; domestic servitude; coercion; consent

Chapter.  14943 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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