Recent scholarship has shown that Latin American popular actors engaged creatively with the new system of republican law that followed the region's independence from Spanish rule. But what impact did republican citizenship rights have on political relations on large agricultural estates, or haciendas, where settlements existed on privately owned land? How did local governance function in the absence of public space for republican institutions to grow in? This article examines the challenges to landed power initiated by requests from two hacienda communities in the state of Guanajuato in the early 1820s to erect constitutional townships on their estates, as well as the landowners' responses to this challenge. From these cases the article moves to a wider investigation of the reorganization of power structures internal to haciendas in the aftermath of Mexico's War of Independence. By analyzing haciendas as a kind of constitutional gray zone in which vaguely defined property rights clashed with vaguely defined directives for constitutional political organization, the article contributes to understanding liberal state formation in Latin America during the crucial first years of the new republics.
Law of the Land? Hacienda Power and the Challenge of Republicanism in Postindependence Mexico
Timo Schaefer is a PhD candidate in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of History. His articles have appeared in Third World Quarterly, Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos, and the Journal of Social History, and his research has been funded by a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council. His dissertation, provisionally titled “Law and Labor in Mexico's Century of Utopian Failure, 1821–1870,” will examine the relationship between legal culture and republican politics in the Mexican countryside during the nineteenth century.
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Timo Schaefer; Law of the Land? Hacienda Power and the Challenge of Republicanism in Postindependence Mexico. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 May 2014; 94 (2): 207–236. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-2641244
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