Jordana Dym explores the fascinating transition from colony to nation in the Central American isthmus and defends the intriguing thesis that the locus of crucial organization and identity for the community is the municipality. Far from being the privileged bastion of the elites, the municipality became a stage of contention among all social groups. She argues that the political revolution in Central America that captured the hemisphere was essentially city-centered. This “municipal sovereignty” set the stage for the unfolding drama that at first produced a federation (1824 – 39) and later the emerging nations. Dym’s analysis focuses on agency and identity: How did people organize themselves over time and create a nexus of representation that responded to the demands of the crown and to the possibility of political independence? How did the municipalities ally with or break from provinces and regions? And how...

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