Latin American and Related Sessions at the American Historical Association Meeting December 28-30, 1976, Washington, D.C.

Initialed meeting and session reports were written by Robert H. Davis (Luther College); Martin A. Jackson (Maritime College, SUNY); Peggy K. Liss (Akron, Ohio); Richard Millet (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville); Robert C. Padden (Brown University); Jaime E. Rodríguez (University of California, Irvine); James R. Scobie (Indiana University); Stanley J. Stein (Princeton University); and J. Benedict Warren (University of Maryland).

Chairman for 1976 Stanley J. Stein (Princeton University) presided at the Conference on Latin American History annual luncheon and business meeting. Following the luncheon, awards were presented to the winners of the various CLAH prizes. The 1976 Herbert E. Bolton Memorial Prize for best book published in the field of Latin American history was awarded to David Rock (Cambridge University) for his Politics in Argentina, 1890-1930: The Rise and Fall of Radicalism, with Honorable Mentions going to Charles H. Harris, III (New Mexico State University) for A Mexican Family Empire: The Latifundio of the Sánchez Navarro Family, 1765-1867 and to Stanley E. Hilton (Louisiana State University) for Brazil and the Great Powers, 1930-1939: The Politics of Trade Rivalry. The James Alexander Robertson Memorial Prize for best article in the HAHR was awarded to Charles W. Bergquist (Duke University) for “The Political Economy of the Colombian Presidential Election of 1897,” HAHR 56 (Feb. 1976). Thomas Flory (University of Califorma, Berkeley) won Honorable Mention for “Judicial Politics in Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” HAHR 55 (Nov. 1975). Leon G. Campbell (University of California, Riverside) won the 1976 Conference on Latin American History Prize for “The Changing Racial and Administrative Structure of Peru under the Later Bourbons,” The Americas, 32 (July 1975) while Stanley E. Hilton again took Honorable Mention for “Vargas and Brazilian Economic Development, 1930-1945: A Reappraisal of His Attitude toward Industrialization and Planning,” Journal of Economic History, 35 (Dec. 1975).

Nettie Lee Benson received the Distinguished Service Award for 1976 for having performed outstanding service in the acquisition, organization and dissemination of teaching and research materials, not only in her home institution (University of Texas, Austin), but also through her work in national bibliographical and library associations and programs.

Rodolfo Stavenhagen (El Colegio de México) delivered an interesting and provocative luncheon address, speaking on the topic, “Peasants and Social Change in Latin America.”


Committee on Mexican Studies—In this session on colonial social history, Ida Altman (who with James Lockhart has edited Provinces of Early Mexico: Variants of Spanish American Regional Evolution, UCLA Latin American Center) read an introductory statement by Lockhart, who could not be present. He called for working toward an overview of continuity and change within all Latin American colonial history. And he proposed searching for universals and distinctions. Focusing research on specific regions and factors within them, he wrote, could illuminate the broader supraregional picture. It was a tall order. Yet the reports on recent regional research which followed strove to touch on all of these themes.

John C. Super (West Virginia University) isolated as important factors in Querétaro’s colonial history its location, its physical and human resources, its economic structure aimed at internal markets, and its continuous growth. He suggested that these conditions might serve as measuring rods for comparison with other regions. In Querétaro by 1650 cattle raising had given way to crops and haciendas were replacing estancias, producing for a domestic market. Super made good use of comparison with other areas, juxtaposing the textile obrajes of Querétaro to Quito where textile manufacturing was done in outlying towns and to Chillán, where a putting-out system prevailed. Although Querétaro at conquest lacked a large indigenous population, it subsequently attracted Indians, resulting in an Indian history (for the city) “of increased fusion which led to increased social differences based on participation in the Spanish economy.” Querétaro grew slowly at first, but by 1803 had a population of 50,000, one of the largest in the hemisphere.

David Szewczyk spoke of Tlaxcala in the sixteenth century and its ties to Puebla and the city of Mexico through interprovincial trade, usually in textiles. Tlaxcala, escaping encomienda and legally an Indian province, avoided large-scale Spanish ranching but not Spanish settlers, who raised “wheat, barley, and other Old World grains,” and held small, family-owned estancias or labores. Yet in 1618 Indians still owned ninety percent of Tlaxcalan lands. Tlaxcala got obrajes in the 1560s, twenty or more of them owned by Europeans and usually employing about thirty contracted Indian laborers. These workers “were not invariably in debt to the obrajero, [and had] very definite stratification of work. Women did the cooking, combing and threadmaking, while men progressed from combing to threadmaking, and eventually ended up as weavers. There were no women weavers. Conditions were not nearly as harsh as portrayed by Phelan or O’Gorman.” Indian principales, emulating Spaniards, also set up obrajes.

In the fringe area of Yucatan, Marta Espejo-Ponce Hunt found that by the seventeenth century Spaniards had developed livestock estates while Indian villages supplied most grain. Encomenderos headed society and local bureaucrats were dependent upon them. Merchants and encomenderos were linked economically—often encomendero, merchant, and estate owner were the same person—and merchants were socially mobile, marrying into the encomendero aristocracy and fully controlling the port town of Campeche. Some vertical mobility was possible at all social levels, yet, in one of the most interesting comments of the evening, she expained the impossibility of extreme social movement:

The reason is hidden in the availability of investment credit open to the various socio-economic groups. Wealth has always been the key to social advancement in Hispanic America and Brazil . . . The “banks” of colonial Yucatan were the capellanías or private endowments of the secular clergy, as well as other church endowments placed at interest . . . However, just as the merchant aviadores in New Spain bailed out their own kind, the merchants and miners connected with the production of silver in Guanajuato and Zacatecas when a new influx of capital was needed, so one would expect to see a close relationship between clerical endowments and the people who were responsible for their creation in the first place. Capellanías represented the accumulated surplus wealth of the creole population, mainly the encomendero families. They were monies put at interest by an individual or family in perpetuity for the purpose of supporting a succession of priests. The priest received only the interest . . . The family, in the person of the patrón, retained control of the capital and used the monies for its own economic purposes. These purposes, particularly after 1650-60, became increasingly the financing of the expansion of the first cattle estates . . . [and] were responsible for the growth of many . . . [and also] for ventures into long-distance trade activities, as many encomenderos switched their main interest.. . . Others with access to capellanía capital were persons allied to the encomenderos through ties of blood, friendship, marriage, and business. These individuals were often merchants and middling people, [or] poor relatives of encomenderos. Persons of the next degree of marginality, however—blacks, mestizos, or poor immigrants—could not hope to tap capellanías for their purposes, and their enterprises were always to remain small through lack of capital.

Ida Altman, John Tutino, and Paul Ganster commented on these reports, as did the audience. The panelists concluded that colonial history is entering a period of increasing complexity and re-examination of stereotypes. The enthusiasm of the panel and the audience for further discussion was unfortunately frustrated by poor scheduling of rooms, so that the session was made to begin late and to end promptly, and thus foreshortened. Copies of Lockhart’s commentary and bibliography are available from Ida Altman (Johns Hopkins University).

P. K. L.

Committee on Caribe-Centro American Studies—Twenty-six individuals attended the December 28, 1976 meeting of CLAH’s Caribe-Centro America Committee, held in Washington’s Shoreham Americana Hotel. Professor Richard Millett (Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville), Committee Chairperson, presided at the meeting which opened with a brief discussion of business matters including a report by Professor Kenneth Grieb (Wisconsin State University at Oshkosh) on the status of the proposed research guide to the Central America-Caribbean area. The bulk of the session was devoted to paper presentations by Professors Graeme Mount and Joan Mount of Laurentian University and Professor Charles Stansifer of Kansas University.

The Mounts’ presentation was devoted to a survey of “Historical Resources in Trinidad.” Joan Mount surveyed library resources on the island, stressing the varied nature of the available collections and detailing ways in which access could be gained and problems involved in utilizing the materials available. Graeme Mount discussed archival resources and made several pertinent observations regarding the materials available and ways in which further research in Trinidadian history might be facilitated. Anyone considering research involving Trinidad would find the paper of considerable assistance. Copies may be obtained by writing Prof. Graeme Mount, Department of History, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Professor Charles Stansifer’s paper, “What We Don’t Know About Costa Rica and How to Find Out,” consisted of a detailed critique of Costa Rican historiography, surveying the available works in both English and Spanish, noting areas where greater research is needed and suggesting sources for such research. Considerable emphasis was placed upon evaluating existing work in the area of biography, with Stansifer observing that, despite the relative richness of Costa Rican historiography, at least when compared to the rest of Central America, many major figures lacked any serious studies of their careers. This paper was of considerable value not only to those planning research in Costa Rica, but also to any faculty members looking for possible thesis or dissertation subjects for their students. Copies of the paper may be obtained by writing Prof. Charles Stansifer, Department of History, Kansas University, Lawrence, Kansas.

The session concluded with questions from the floor which further broadened the focus of the papers, eliciting information on areas such as Church-State relations and the problems of Costa Rica’s black population.

R. M.

Committee on Andean Studies—The session, chaired by Jaime E. Rodríguez (University of California, Irvine) began with a short business meeting. The chairman announced that the Nominating Committee, composed of Leon Campbell (University of California, Riverside) and Miguel Monteon (University of California, San Diego), had proposed and the membership had elected William F. Sater (California State University, Long Beach) chairman for 1977 and reelected Mark Burkholder (University of Missouri, Saint Louis) executive secretary. Chairman Rodríguez then proposed that the term of the executive secretary be extended to two years to formalize current practice since all previous executive secretaries have been reelected for a second term. The membership approved the recommendation which will go into effect in 1978. John TePaske (Duke University), who was unable to attend, sent word that the Andean Research Guide will appear in 1977.

The rest of the meeting consisted of a panel on “Recent Trends in Andean Historiography.” Stephen Stein (State University of New York, Stonybrook) discussed the Peruvian literature. The most striking advance, in his view, has been the development of research tools—bibliographies, guides and general histories. His paper was principally devoted to an analysis of their importance. It concluded with a brief discussion of major monographs.

Linda A. Rodríguez (University of California, Riverside) analysed recent developments in Ecuador. She stressed three aspects: the improvement of archives and repositories, the emergence of a new group of professional historians, and a growing interest in Ecuador among foreign scholars. She identified Julio Estrada, the director of the Archivo Histórico del Guayas, as one of the leading proponents of the “new history” that emphasizes archival research and institutional and social history. Rodríguez also noted that foreign scholars have made valuable contributions in the areas of social, economic and demographic history.

William F. Sater reviewed the trends in Chile. He indicated that the volume of historical research has been so great that it was impossible to discuss it in a brief time. Therefore, he elected to focus on political history. After discussing recent syntheses, the speaker commented upon works which provide new interpretations of the impact of Bourbon reforms. While observing that literature on the early national period is scanty, he stated that excellent work has been done on the Balmaceda period and on the Parliamentary Regime. There are, moreover, innovative studies describing the important decades of the 1920s and 1930s. He also noted that scholars are increasingly turning their efforts to contemporary topics.

The session concluded with comments from the audience. Several persons expressed interest in aspects of twentieth-century Ecuadorian history, such as labor and the role of José M. Velasco Ibarra. Others indicated that valuable new work is being done in the colonial period, especially in Chile and Peru. There was general agreement that important advances had been made in Andean Historiography.

J. E. R.

Committee on Gran Colombian Studies—The Committee on Gran Colombian Studies met December 29th at the Shoreham-Americana Hotel in Washington, D.C. Chairperson, Robert L. Gilmore (University of Kansas) presided.

Two papers were delivered at the session. Ms. Susan Thompson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts, discussed immigration practices in Venezuela. Her essay, “Venezuelan Immigration Policy and Politics, 1948-1958, argued that while Venezuela’s official policy during the period was one of open immigration, the actual number and type of entry permits granted would indicate a restrictive and highly selective program. She emphasized efforts by the Pérez Jiménez government to identify itself with specific ethnic strains as a means of gaining support for the administration.

Mr. Jay Grusin, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona, made the second presentation: “Liberalism and Conservatism in Nineteenth-Century Latin America: The Case of New Granada, 1848-1854.” Mr. Grusin stressed the unfortunate degree to which traditional interpretations explain political events on the basis of the Liberal-Conservative dichotomy. Through the use of roll-call votes in Congress and other such data, he argued that there was in fact almost no difference between Liberals and Conservatives in New Granada during the period in question and called for a reassessment of political interpretations in other than strictly ideological or rhetorical terms. Professor Gilmore commented on both papers. Following the papers, the Committee heard a report from Dr. Miguel Bretos, Oberlin College, regarding a proposed international colloquium on Colombian history. Summarizing the results of a questionnaire he had distributed in the summer of 1976, Bretos indicated that approximately thirty people had responded positively to the idea of an international meeting, probably to be held in Bogotá or elsewhere in Colombia. The majority seemed to favor restricting the meeting to historical subjects and to Colombian history, although the discussion which followed the Bretos report did not accept either of these criteria definitively. The members attending the December 29th meeting were enthusiastic in support of the idea although somewhat apprehensive about the magnitude of the undertaking and the means of financing it. The Committee membership referred the matter to a Colloquium Planning Committee to be composed of the 1977 officers of the Committee on Gran Colombian Studies and Dr. Bretos for further development.

Dr. Jane Loy, University of Massachusetts, assumed the office of Chairperson for the Committee in 1977. The Executive Secretary reported that Dr. J. León Helguera, Vanderbilt University, had been elected Vice-Chairperson for the year. Members were asked to assist the Secretary in the current revision of the membership list.

R. H. D.


To begin the session on “Crime and Justice among the Poor in Late Colonial Latin America” Michael Scardaville of the University of Florida in “Urban Poor and Public Disorder: Léperos and Vagrants in Mexico City, 1774-1803” analyzed the social composition of Mexico City’s léperos through criminality and “deviance,” ransacking libros de reos (1794-1807) and drawing heavily from the 4,300 cases of 1798. Major categories of arrest involved drink-related crimes (forty-five percent) and violence (six percent). Most arrested were males (seventy-nine percent), sixty-eight percent of crimes were caused by the twenty to thirty-nine year-old age group, while fifty-three percent of those arrested were married. A high percentage (thirty-nine percent) of crimes were caused by urban in-migrants. Of the arrested, surprisingly fifty-four percent claimed an occupational skill—the largest occupational group being tobacco-factory workers (eight percent). Scardaville argues, then, that léperos were “not a distinct group,” only a “cross-section of the lower social sectors of Mexico City.” In the second section, he shifted from léperos to urban crime as a facet of “a subculture of deviance” with its own “values, attitudes and patterns of conduct” which accepted “interpersonal violence and excessive drinking.” Scardaville concluded that the high incidence of crime among the urban poor was part of their accepted behavior, thereby “integrating . . . the heterogeneous lower classes.”

Patricia Aufderheide’s paper, “Local Justice in Late Colonial Brazil: Work, Play and Family Relations among the Poor,” was more unambiguously focused upon personal violence as an expression of social solidarity among the poor of an “agro-town” of the Brazilian northeast. Here, too, court records (investigations, complaints, arrests, 1780-1840) in Cachoeira (Bahia) constituted the documentary base for deductions about age, color, occupation and the categoration of crimes. She detected a rising percentage of free people of color offering testimony, most of them “mixed bloods,” subsistence or tenant farmers, with some artisans. Personal violence accounted for sixty percent of arrests, sex crimes were minor, few females were either witnesses or defendants. The major theme of the cases was physical aggression among males of “middling social status” caused by sensitivity to female virtue and family honor, issues providing “social security for the poor.” A number of cases were then narrated. The other aspect of the paper concerned the social significance of alcoholism in taverns. Aufderheide concluded that violence among the poor helped maintain family status and for the society as a whole, immobility.

Underlying Arnold Bauer’s (University of California, Davis) wide-ranging critique was the judgment that what was important was not the nature of crime by the “poor” but why attitudes—particularly those of the dominant classes—toward “boozing, boasting in taverns and skipping work” changed. Both papers, he felt, broke new ground but their material required digestion. In both papers he detected distortion of the past by examining it through the prism of current preoccupations, e.g., social instability and sexism; he questioned generalization about mass behavior and “mentalities” where evidence is inadequate and the time-span brief.

In Colin MacLachlan’s (Tulane University) prism, crime must be examined in a broad rather than narrow upper-class perspective. Aufderheide’s explanation of criminal motivation he found shallow and he felt that the Brazilian poor’s” growing access to law courts signalled a “society in transition.” As for Scardaville’s perception of the Mexico City “poor,” he considered it elitist and he questioned Scardaville’s view that parental patterns of violence necessarily led to imitation by children. Crime has two faces; to Scardaville’s hypothesis that crime shattered a sense of class unity against oppression, MacLachlan opposed the notion that crime might forge class unity, if briefly.

Obviously both papers had the benefit of sensitive and informed criticism.

S. J. S.

On Wednesday afternoon, December 29, following the annual luncheon-business meeting, some seventy persons attended the session, “Electoral Behavior in Twentieth-Century Argentina” chaired by James R. Scobie.

Joseph S. Tulchin (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) summarized his extensive investigation of “County Types and Voting Behavior in Argentina, 1910-1930,” by describing the relationships between agricultural activities and population characteristics as seen in two of the seven pampas regions defined by him. The differences between the two regions—one, a zone of cereal farms established by immigrant colonists along the northern edge of the pampas in Santa Fe, and the second, a ranching and wheat-growing zone largely developed by native-born Argentines in the south of the province of Buenos Aires near Mar del Plata—demonstrate, according to Tulchin, how ecological characteristics can be related to the success of the Radical Party in attracting votes. Tulchin briefly touched on his methods, known as multi-dimensional, non-metric scaling, which he explained extensively in his paper. He then concentrated on his conclusion that the Radicals attempted to capture the most typical counties of each region. According to his analysis, the Radicals succeeded superbly in meeting the needs of the socioeconomic structures in this export economy and thereby ended the era of competitive politics in Argentina. The conservatives in 1930, therefore, had no alternative but to resort to a coup.

An historian and a political scientist from Washington University joined forces for the afternoon’s second paper, “Elections in the Province of Buenos Aires, 1912-1946: The Socioeconomic Bases of Party Support.” Richard J. Walter set the stage with a description of the province’s predominance in Argentine politics, a graphic display of Radical, Conservative, and Socialist percentages of total vote and voter turnout from 1912 to 1955, and a comparison of Radical and Conservative campaign techniques. Barry Ames added a summary of the methods—zero-order correlation coefficients—used by the two investigators in their analysis and a discussion of what could be done in relating ethnic and class data to voting patterns. He described the validity and limitations of the various measures and indexes constructed from 1914 and 1947 national censuses and the 1881 provincial census. After listing initial findings—for example that Radicals did poorly in areas where a high percentage of the population was occupied in farming, or that government policy, including depressions, seemed generally unrelated to shifts in political party support—Ames concluded by expressing doubts as to whether a behaviorally rooted theory of electoral choice could be developed for the province of Buenos Aires, since adequate measures for social class and ethnicity do not exist at present. Exploitation of the manuscript 1895 census may, however, yield such answers in the future.

Peter H. Smith (University of Wisconsin, Madison) who acted as first commentator, praised these new lines of inquiry, which carried forward the work of scholars such as Darío Cantón and Ezequiel Gallo. He pointed out several questions that needed further attention including how evenly was fraud distributed across the areas studied, or, what was the effect of the 1922 split within the Radical Party? With reference to the Walter/Ames study, he asked what was the analytical significance of focusing on the province of Buenos Aires and added that some evidence might actually suggest that voting behavior bore little relation to class. With regard to Tulchin’s paper, Smith criticized the reification of regions and questioned whether the typical counties statistically were actually the most powerful ones—i.e., those most sought after by political parties.

Peter Snow (University of Iowa) as the second commentator concentrated on the methodological problems raised in the papers. He echoed Smith’s contention that the effect of fraud as a variable must be addressed by the analysts, and he suggested dangers in correlating census data, especially in the fast-changing province of Buenos Aires, with elections which occurred ten to fifteen years after the census. He noted that although both papers took pains to skirt ecological fallacies, such implications occasionally slipped into the analysis. He demonstrated the difficulty of drawing correlations between ratios, suggested the lack of meaning in certain measures such as the level of urbanization and illiteracy, and showed skepticism toward the selection and significance of several other variables. Following a few questions from the audience, the session closed with brief rejoinders from Walter, Ames, and Tulchin.

J. R. S.

The session on “Women in Colonial Spanish America: A Reappraisal,” chaired by R. C. Padden (Brown University), emphasized two basic approaches to the study of women in colonial Spanish America. Asunción Lavrin (Howard University) and Edith B. Couturier (Northwestern University) presented a heavily documented study of the socioeconomic role of women in colonial Mexico (1640-1780), utilizing as major sources dowries, wills, and notarial and religious records. In a second paper, Elinor C. Burkett (Frostburg State College) addressed some of the theoretical and methodological problems inherent in conceptualizing and investigating women’s history.

In their presentation Professors Lavrin and Couturier demonstrated the breadth and significance of traditional marital and familial relationships in colonial society. The role of women was central, embracing multiple social and economic functions. The passivity of the female role was most evident in their discussion of patria potestad, the traditional relationship between children and parents that gave males the right to arrange financially advantageous marriages for their daughters. Women were not ordinarily free to use matrimony as a means of satisfying their own desires or ambitions. This fundamental restriction, accompanied by scores of lesser ones, has long supported the assumption of an almost total oppression of colonial women by their male masters. This presentation, however, made clear the fact that legal restrictions which restrained women’s activities were frequently circumvented by other legal provisions that allowed them freedom of action and enterprise. For example, even though dowries were binding economic links between individuals and families, they also served as protective devices for women’s futures. Women held the right to control their dowries and inheritances during and beyond marriage. This factor, together with the bilateral inheritance system, prevented the absorption of the woman’s personality in the conjugal union and afforded her the means to exert her will and choice. There is abundant evidence that women commonly did so. Women were often appointed as executors of their husband’s wills with power to liquidate holdings. Notarial archives reveal women as entrepreneurs operating independently of their husbands, sometimes in partnership with another male or a relative. The same documents suggest the existence of a network of credit, loans among both men and women, with involvement in small businesses. Single women not uncommonly maintained independence of self through inheritance or private income and were not dependent upon males for security and status. In summary, Lavrin and Couturier find that the power of men was real, but not as complete or overwhelming as has been assumed. There were obstacles and there was oppression, but they did not constitute the whole of reality; women did express themselves economically, socially, and emotionally. “At this point,” they conclude, “it is to the dynamics of both forces, repression and expression, that historical research on colonial women should address itself.”

Professor Burkett’s paper, while securely anchored in her past researches on race, class, and sex in colonial Peru during the first 125 years of colonial life, was essentially concerned with methodology. Her primary purpose was to challenge the popular assumption of women’s history which holds that there is a common female experience. She first examined female roles in the colonial economy, reviewed the social functions of marriage, and identified the major female social networks. She then followed the current pattern of women’s historiography by delineating the fundamental commonality of female experience in those three areas with the following result: (1) Women of all social groups were found to operate in violation of social expectation and were concentrated in a few, almost completely female economic sectors. (2) Marriages were governed by and beneficial to the white male ruling class. (3) Female activities facilitated the formation of female social networks.

Burkett then subjected this approach to extended criticism which yielded the following reservations: (1) While all women deviated from the male-established norm, they did so for a variety of reasons; some acted from economic necessity while others exercised personal choice. (2) Elite women could and sometimes did benefit from the marriage system while non-elites were usually further oppressed by it. (3) Social networks established among women did not necessarily reflect friendship or shared interests. Elite women tended to view such networks as utilitarian, while non-elites found them little more than intelligence sources.

In lieu of the myth of a common female experience, Burkett suggests a class perspective that divided the female experience. She holds this perspective to be essential in studying the history of colonial women. “For if we continue to view females as members of some distinct and unique social grouping rather than as members and often beneficiaries of clearly defined social classes,” she warns, “we will continue to get women without history or history without women or, at best history with women tacked on as some last minute appendage.”

The commentary of Susan Soeiro (University of Utah) acknowledged the contribution to our understanding of colonial Mexican society made by the researches of Lavrin and Couturier. She also identified a series of complex problems which their work raises: questions of family organization, of apparent tensions between endowment and inheritance practices, of differentiations in terms of class, each of which pose far-reaching implications for social history. Soeiro voiced a general agreement with Burkett’s position on class analysis, but felt that her attempt to see the society from the bottom up seemed to suggest that there is no oppression other than material deprivation, thus omitting the wider realm of psychological oppression. She also expressed a doubt that the female experience within social groups, as an entity, can be negated because it does not transcend class lines. On the other hand, Soeiro lauded Burkett’s forthright and provocative questioning of some of the premises of women’s history, recognizing it as a rare and valuable exercise in self-criticism.

In his concluding commentary, Keith A. Davies (Vanderbilt University) recognized the work of Lavrin and Couturier as a model for future investigation of female groups in colonial society. Like Soeiro, he found their conclusions valid and suggestive. He did point out one reservation that needs to be taken into account: the sources they used illuminate the affairs of the elite, rather than the lower classes. Generalizations derived from them must be likewise confined, pending further investigations. Davies saw Burkett’s paper as a successful attempt to stimulate discussion of how the study of women in colonial Spanish America should be conducted. He found her class analysis valid, even though he was concerned about the limits of such a theoretical approach and about the breadth of its required generalizations. He enumerated a host of questions, largely unanswered, that the generalizations suggest. Both papers, he found, were essentially concerned with the affairs of urban, Hispanic women. He ended his comment with a plea that “while reevaluating the work done on women, we make note today that it proceeds mainly along lines which exclude most non-hispanic women, particularly those in the countryside, and that we should encourage research into that neglected area.”

R. C. P.

The session on “Latin America: The Seventeenth-Century Crisis” was chaired by J. Benedict Warren (University of Maryland). The announced chairman, Dauril Alden (University of Washington) was absent on a research grant in Brazil.

Peter J. Bakewell (University of New Mexico) speaking on “Silver Mining and the Economy of Seventeenth-Century Latin America,” reasserted the hypothesis that the signs of economic decline, as seen by some authors in the statistics of external trade, may in reality indicate a greater degree of economic self-sufficiency on the part of the colonies during the seventeenth century. He maintained that silver production did indeed decline in both New Spain and Peru during the seventeenth century, but he considered this at least partially a result of the fact that investment capital was going into other areas, such as commerce and agriculture, at a time when both the demand for and the value of silver had declined.

John TePaske presented a paper on “The Seventeenth-Century Crisis in the Spanish Empire: Myth or Reality?”, which he and Herbert Klein had prepared. Working from the cartas cuentas, or records of the income and outgo of funds in the treasuries of New Spain (with some material from Lima), they found no periods of serious economic depression during the seventeenth century. Moreover, they did not find evidence of a significant over-all decline in silver production during the century, although there are perhaps indications of stagnation in the non-mining sectors of the economy. Regarding the expenditure of royal funds, the prime destination was the Philippines, with lesser amounts being remitted to Castile and expended on local administration and defense.

Woodrow Borah (University of California, Berkeley) commented on the need for a clearer definition of what is meant by the crisis or depression of the seventeenth century. He indicated that his own concept included a drop in gross output, linked to the decline in the labor force and a decline in the disposable surplus for shipment to Spain. He pointed out the necessity of considering other factors, such as climatic changes, the natural economic protection afforded by the ocean at that time, smuggling and various types of fraud, and the amount of silver being invested in land or converted into plate.

Murdo MacLeod (University of Pittsburgh) emphasized that the efficiency of the metropolis in draining silver out of the colonies may have resulted in a lack of coinage, thus depressing interregional commerce and leading to import substitution. But, when challenged by the influx of lower-priced goods in the eighteenth century, local production could not survive. He also felt that the authors of the papers had not adequately faced up to the problem of labor shortages.

The comments from the audience made even more clear the complexity of the topic and the need for continuing study.

J. B. W.

Aside from the obvious focus on Latin American history, the common theme of the three papers presented at the “Filmic Approach to Latin America’s Past” session was the use of film as evidence, as primary source material. Each of the authors explored a theme in Latin American history as documented and preserved in the film records, although it should be noted at once that film was never the sole source material, only the most important for these papers. Each scholar took full note of the standard printed and archival material to develop his or her ideas. The point, however, was that film was given equal status with the traditional historians’ source material and the session may stand as one more evidence, if more is still needed, that filmic resources offer the historian an enormously valuable and badly underutilized area for meaningful research.

Professor Paul J. Vanderwood (San Diego State University) in “American Cinema and Mexican Heroes: The Cases of Juárez and Zapata” explored the North American image of Mexican politics and culture via two well-known films on the subject: Juárez with Paul Muni (1939) and Viva Zapata starring Marlon Brando (1952). Making use of studio records and trade publications, Vanderwood traced the evolution of the scripts, casting and distribution of these two very different films, demonstrating the close connection between American political affairs and the portrayal of Mexican life on the screen. In the case of Juárez, the Roosevelt administration was anxious to alert the movie audience to the dangers of European Fascism, so that Maximilian became a symbol for the kind of European intervention that the Fascist states might attempt again in the late 1930s. The role of Juárez, of course, was written and played as the Mexican patriot, inspired by the example of Lincoln and his democratic northern neighbors to resist the European dictatorship. In the case of Viva Zapata, written and produced in a very different world, the radicalism and revolutionary fervor of the Zapatistas had to be muted in favor of a vague kind of agrarian reformism. The Cold War of 1952 and the oppressive influence of the McCarthy period made Zapata a difficult, if not impossible, figure to portray with historical accuracy. The result was a muddled, unsure film that tells us more about America in the 1950s than about Zapata.

Dr. Jane Loy (University of Massachusetts) in “The Past as Present” discussed the documentary films of Julien Bryan, seeing in them a major source for the understanding of American attitudes toward Latin America in the 1940s. Bryan was commissioned by the American government to produce a series of films about our Latin neighbors, hoping to deepen the Good Neighbor policy and to improve relations between the two regions. Bryan and his film crews travelled throughout Latin America, making an impressive group of films which, if outdated today, were notably superior in content and style to the existing material on that region. These Bryan films became familiar to several generations of school children and helped shape our view of Latin America until very recently.

Current Latin American cinema, especially in its historical content, was the subject of Dr. Julianne Burton’s (University of California, Santa Cruz) paper, “The New Latin American Cinema: Points on Spectrum of Approaches to History.” “History is the dominant theme of the New Latin American cinema,” said Dr. Burton, and she cited a variety of filmic evidence to support her thesis. Even allowing for widely varied political and social contexts, the younger Latin American filmmakers share a concern for and a sense of the historical roots of their current conditions. These filmmakers, for the most part radical and in varying states of exile, restriction or official censorship, view themselves as active participants in history; they are not merely filmmakers but participants in an historical process.

M. A. J.