Latin American Urbanization: Historical Profiles of Major Cities

Latin American Urbanization: Historical Profiles of Major Cities

Latin American Urbanization: Historical Profiles of Major Cities

Latin American Urbanization: Historical Profiles of Major Cities

Synopsis

This volume provides extensive information on the urban experience in Latin America. Following a general overview, the work includes chapters devoted to urbanization in specific countries. Each chapter begins with an introduction providing geographic information and a survey of the nation's urban development, and then includes historical profiles of ninety selected cities, as well as maps. Thus, the work provides both national and city-specific perspectives. Chapters also provide a list of bibliographic resources, and the work is fully indexed.

Excerpt

The urban history of Latin America predates the arrival of the first Europeans. Especially in the region known as Middle America (extending from the Central Valley of Mexico through the Yucatan and Guatemala) and in highland areas of South America, Amerindian peoples established urban- based societies whose origins date to perhaps 3000 B.C. These ultimately included both city-states and extensive empires. the presence of masses of sedentary indigenous peoples profoundly affected initial Spanish settlement patterns. Amerindian populations, through tribute and forced labor, provided a critical resource during the conquest and early colonial period. the Spaniards and their Portuguese counterparts in Brazil founded many settlements in order to "pacify" and control the labor of Amerindian peoples. in many instances, religious orders including Franciscans, Augustinians, Dominicans, and, prominently, Jesuits, forcibly resettled Indians into towns, ostensibly to achieve the goals of Christianizing and "civilizing" them. Indeed, Spanish law officially recognized two distinct realms: pueblos de indios (Indian towns) and pueblos de españoles (Spanish towns), though economic pressures and the development of a new, mixed population element, offspring of Spaniard and Indian liaisons, soon blurred this distinction.

Although the dramatic population decline of indigenous peoples increasingly minimized the economic rationale for regulating Indian labor, the pattern of cities functioning as administrative control centers and spearheads for settling land and organizing economic activity remained characteristic of the long colonial period. Cities served as mining and supply centers, as points of penetration and communication into the interior, and as fortified garrisons protecting Spanish interests against both indigenous peoples and European rivals. Within the Spanish imperial system, however, the administrative/bureaucratic function of cities assumed paramount importance. Colonial cities, whether great viceregal capitals like Mexico City and Lima or . . .

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