This article examines the consumption of foreign machetes and, to a lesser extent, imported textiles by peasants, smallholders, and artisans in nineteenth-century Colombia to show that the popular sectors of society were the largest consumers of foreign goods and as such were able to change market conditions and make specific demands regarding the quality of imported products intended for their consumption. By so doing, the article questions the premise that because of their poverty Colombian popular classes were always drawn to buying cheaper imported goods and sacrificing quality for price. Thus, the article adds not only to the recent historiography of consumption in Latin America but also to the broad literature on nineteenth-century popular groups by inviting historians to start viewing peasants, artisans, and smallholders as active participants, both as citizens and as consumers, in a new political and economic reality.

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