This book offers original and important contributions to a key scholarly and political debate. Begun several decades ago, the debate turns around the Bourbon reforms in the New World during the eighteenth century, their impact on the Spanish empire, and their far-reaching consequences for national states created after independence in the region. The Bourbon reforms gained scholarly prominence among legal historians in the late 1950s, and the subject began to be discussed soon by historians of the politics, institutions, and economics of Spain and Latin America. Furthermore, the ongoing debate has a profound impact on politically complex issues, such as colonialism, nationalism, and the oppression of nonwhite ethnic groups before and after independence in Latin America.

When a historiographical debate continues for decades, contributions tend to remain inside certain parameters: fresh interpretations of certain facts, and sometimes new data, can be expected....

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