Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil

Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil

Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil

Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil

Synopsis

This book provides a general history of Latin America in the period between the European conquest and the gaining of independence by the Spanish American countries and Brazil (approximately 1492-1825). It is both an introduction for the student at the college level and a provisionally updated synthesis of the quickly changing field for the more experienced reader. The authors' aim is not only to treat colonial Brazil and colonial Spanish America in a single volume, something rarely done, but also to view early Latin America as one unit with a centre and peripheries, all parts of which were characterized by variants of the same kinds of change, regardless of national and imperial borders. The authors integrate both the older and the newer historical literature, seeing legal, institutional, and political phenomena within a social, economic, and cultural context. They incorporate insights from other disciplines and newer techniques of historical research, but eschew jargon or technical concepts. The approach of the book, with its emphasis on broad social and economic trends across large areas and long time periods, does much to throw light on Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well.

Excerpt

Plans for this book go back to the time some years ago when, participating in a conference session on comparisons between Spanish America and Brazil in the early period, we discovered that the two of us had written nearly the same paper. Rather than comparing Spanish and Portuguese America as two separate entities, we had each treated the whole of Ibero-America as one entity, finding that the parts of Brazil tended to fall together typologically and in other ways with certain parts of Spanish America in contrast to other Spanish American areas, especially Peru and Mexico. We decided that there ought to be at least one work in English which treats within a single framework the entire area occupied by Iberians during what is usually called the colonial period.

In the years since our first commitment to the project, an additional motivation for it has grown ever more important in our minds. the spate of significant scholarly production in the field after World War II, in the period of about 2950-65, has been followed by an even more varied and voluminous outpouring. Under these conditions, frequent updating of syntheses is called for. Here, as in the matter of the two imperial zones, our aim is a unified view. Subfields have grown up-not an entirely new phenomenon in Latin American history-which hardly seem to recognize each other's existence, much less speak each other's language. in trying to combine the results of the subdisciplines, we also try to achieve a common vocabulary. Although we are not incognizant of the contribution of anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and other neighboring disciplines, and although we have developed some new terminology of our own in this book, we attempt to stay inside the boundaries of the readily intelligible across disciplines and specialties.

Intending the volume as both synthesis and introduction, we have forgone footnotes, which here tend to be irrelevant for the neophyte or general reader and unnecessary for the professional, who will quickly recognize many of the works on which we draw and the extent to which we follow or comment upon them. We do, however, provide a relatively ample selected bibliography to satisfy partially . . .

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