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Volume 58 / Humanities

HISTORY: GENERAL HISTORY


JOHN BRITTON, Gasque Professor of History, Francis Marion University


THIS TWO-YEAR HARVEST of books and articles on general topics yielded some welcome contributions, especially on the immigration experience, nationalism, and economic history. The expected decline in the quantity of publications on the early colonial period with the passing of the Quincentennial did not mean that the quality of work on this era diminished to any appreciable extent.

The field of social history benefitted from several outstanding publications that applied a healthy diversity of approaches to the task of understanding day-to-day existence, especially in the colonial period. López Cantos examined public entertainment, such as fiestas, in the colonial era as a means of probing the life-styles of several social strata (item #bi 96015513#). Martinelli Gifre analyzed early methods of communication between native Americans and the Spanish ranging from translation to physical gestures (item #bi 96015531#), and Mira Caballos discussed the small group of native Americans who were transported to and lived in Spain in the 1500s (item #bi 97003819#). Martínez's arresting examination of the evolution of styles of dress traced fashion from the 16th-19th centuries (item #bi 97010184#).

A quartet of authors concentrated on the signs of disruption and unrest that began to appear in the 18th century. Gallegos' survey of society under the Bourbon Reforms pointed out the stresses and strains evident in law enforcement, the legal system, and native American communities (item #bi 96015536#). Merino and Newson provided a scholarly overview of the consequences of the expulsion of the Jesuit order from their mission systems in North and South America (item #bi 97005754#). In a refined work of synthesis, McFarlane assessed the causes of several major revolts in the last decades of the colonial period with an emphasis on local grievances as the driving forces behind the likes of Tupac Amaru and Hidalgo (item #bi 96001355#).

The role of women in Latin American history continues to receive much-needed attention. Reviewed in the previous volume, but meriting further mention here is Lavrin's subtle and substantial critique of Spanish American women's writing in the 1970s-80s (see {HLAS 56:1068}). In this biennium, outstanding studies appeared on topics from the early colonial period to the late-20th century. Pareja Ortiz contributed two valuable colonial era studies: a specialized examination of the daily life of Sevillian women in the Americas (item #bi 96015548#), and a survey of marriage laws under the Spanish empire (item #bi 95012907#). Economic and political issues were at the forefront of two impressive articles: Monteón examined the burdens placed upon women in the Great Depression of the 1930s and the debt crises of the 1980s (item #bi 96006162#), and Luna continued her consistently fine work in gender studies with an analysis of women's political participation (item #bi 95019050#). Many publications in this recent surge in gender history have challenged the usefulness of the Marianismo-machismo dichotomy. Exploring and enlarging the innovations in this area, French and James assembled a collection of well-researched articles based on sensitive and sophisticated approaches to the study of gender in the work place, the union hall, and the realm of politics. In their introductory and concluding essays, they point out promising directions in research and conceptualization that have large ramifications in this area (item #bi 98000429#).

Nationalism, a topic that has received little attention in Latin American history in recent decades, re-emerged in this biennium in the work of scholars following the lead of David Brading, whose prescient and impressive 1991 synthesis, First America, examined the colonial era sources of Creole national identity in Mexico and Peru (see HLAS 54:941). In this biennium, Brading extended his study of nationalism into the late 19th and 20th centuries in a perceptive essay (item #bi 95014082#). Entrena Durán emphasized the function of populism in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico through the coalescence of the nation-state in these three countries in the 1930s-40s (item #bi 96018470#). Bermudez's innovative study traced the development of the graphic arts in Latin America from the colonial period into the early 20th century. His interpretation reveals that national identity began to play a significant role in the graphic arts in the early 1800s (item #bi 96015541#).

One of the major benefits of the flood of publications related to the Quincentennial was the large number of books and articles on the subject of immigration. Editorial MAPFRE was a leader in this important field and deserves special recognition for its prolific role in immigration history, as well as in many areas in Latin American history and international history in general. The long list of MAPFRE publications constitutes a historiographical accomplishment of significant proportions that will have a lasting influence on the understanding of the interactions of many nations and peoples. Five excellent examples of this type of contribution can be found in this biennium's list on immigration history: Albonico's book on the Italians in the Americas from Columbus to Valentino (item #bi 96015534#), Jones' survey of British immigration to the Western Hemisphere (item #bi 96015545#), Yanaguida's much-needed discussion of the movement of Japanese to Latin America, the US, and Canada (item #bi 96015533#), Kitroeff's path-breaking work on Greeks in the Americas (item #bi 96015537#), and Morner's magisterial overview of immigration throughout the region (item #bi 97010160#).

Other authors contributed to the growing bibliography on this topic. Klich and Lesser's article on Middle Eastern immigrants (item #bi 96024438#) and Vilar's examination of Jewish immigration from Morocco (item #bi 97008363#) covered topics rarely studied while Yanez Gallardo and Biagini examined familiar ground by using new approaches. Yanez Gallardo produced two books: one, a quantitative study of general Spanish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries (item #bi 96015563#), and the second, an examination of kinship networks in Catalonian migration to the Americas (item #bi 97010182#); and Biagini appropriately infused intellectual history into immigration studies with his exploration of the growing Spanish interest in Argentina in the last decades of the 19th century (item #bi 97010193#).

Perhaps as a reflection of the economic turmoil of recent years, a number of scholars have focused on economic history. Vila Vilar wrote an exemplary study of the activities of two merchant families in Peru and Spain of the late 1500s and early 1600s (see {HLAS 56:2511}). Yeager employed the concepts of neoinstitutional economics to explain the Spanish Crown's decision to favor the encomienda over slavery as a labor source (item #bi 96005483#). Two historians give serious, in-depth treatment to often overlooked, but important topics. Río Moreno details the significance of the pig in the Spanish conquest (item #bi 96018462#), and Smith explores the use of the tomato from the preconquest period into the 19th century (item #bi 96015553#). Footpaths and railroads symbolize the evolution of transportation systems through the colonial era to the middle of the 1800s as covered in the superior synthesis by Gutiérrez Alvarez (item #bi 96015512#). Dore contributed a thought-provoking examination of the social and ecological repercussions of mining in Latin America (item #bi 97008246#), while Haber rendered a pointed critique of the concept of dependency in his articulate introduction to the New Economic History (item #bi 97012123#). Three important studies of foreign economic influences in the region appeared: Riguzzi's article on the Latin American reaction to the intrusions of US business interests from 1870-1914 (item #bi 96008570#), Bottcher's historiographical summation of published works on the role of British merchant houses in the region from 1760-1860 (item #bi 97007525#), and Jones' overview of British trade and investment in the region (item #bi 97010181#). Finally, in an exceptional work of synthesis, Salvatorre adroitly analyzed three surges of economic reform: the Bourbon era of the 1700s, mid-19th-century liberalism, and the neoliberalism of recent years (item #bi 96022323#).


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