This book by Rolando Rojas analyzes how Peru's liberal elite imagined the nation-state after independence in the early 1820s. Rojas starts by observing that today nobody doubts that the social and political realities of independence-era Peru did not conform to the ideals outlined by the constitution. According to the constitution, all Peruvians were equal before the law. All adult men had political rights, and both the parliament and the head of state were to be elected through fair and competitive elections. The new political order put an end to the Old Regime's division between commoners and nobility. However, discrimination against indigenous people and the urban poor did not disappear. The rule of law did not exist for most Peruvians throughout the nineteenth century (or the twentieth, one might add). Therefore, the legal order had little in common with actual political and social...

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