Two new forms of political history have emerged in the last couple of decades. The English-language literature trends toward the “postmodern,” primarily concerned with gender and cultural issues. Literature in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian, on the other hand, has reexamined the nature of political institutions and processes (work by German historians inclines toward this later perspective). It considers the “colonial” period an Antiguo Régimen comparable to the Old Regime in Europe. Indeed, the reevaluation of the European “absolutist state” has provided these historians with a framework with which to study Latin America.

Dinámicas del Antiguo Régimen is an excellent example of the second trend in political history. Most of the 13 essays (dealing with Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil) are based on original research, and they are divided into three sections: “La dinámica del reformismo ilustrado,” “Territorio y poderes entre Antiguo...

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