Drawing extensively on judicial and military records, Salvatore reveals the state’s files on individual prisoners and recruits to be surprisingly full of personal stories directly solicited from paysanos. While consistently attentive to the fragmented and mediated nature of these archival sources, he chronicles how peons and peasants spoke to power figures—judges, police officers, and military chiefs—about issues central to their lives and to the emerging nation. They described their families and their wanderings across the countryside in search of salaried work, memories and impressions of the civil wars, and involvement with the Federalist armies. Their lamentations about unpaid labor, disrespectful government officials, the meaning of poverty, and the dignity of work provide vital insights into the contested nature of the formation of the Argentine Confederation. Wandering Paysanos discloses a complex world until now obscured—that of rural Argentine subalterns confronting the state.
Ricardo D. Salvatore is Professor of Modern History at Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. He is coeditor of Crime and Punishment in Latin America: Law and Society since Late Colonial Times and Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.–Latin American Relations, both published by Duke University Press.
Beginning in the late 1840s, subaltern groups entered the political arena to forge alliances, both temporary and enduring, with the elite Liberal and Conservative Parties. In the process, each group formed its own political discourses and reframed republicanism to suit its distinct needs. These popular liberals and popular conservatives bargained for the parties’ support and deployed a broad repertoire of political actions, including voting, demonstrations, petitions, strikes, boycotts, and armed struggle. By the 1880s, though, many wealthy Colombians of both parties blamed popular political engagement for social disorder and economic failure, and they successfully restricted lower-class participation in politics. Sanders suggests that these reactionary developments contributed to the violence and unrest afflicting modern Colombia. Yet in illuminating the country’s legacy of participatory politics in the nineteenth century, he shows that the current situation is neither inevitable nor eternal.
Tracing the transition from colonial Natural Law to instrumental legal understandings of property, the book shows that the developments of constitutionalism and property law were more than coincidences: the polity shaped the rituals and practices arbitrating economic justice, while the crisis of property animated the support for a centralized and executive-dominated state. In dialectical fashion, politics shaped private law while the effort to formalize the domain of property directed the course of political struggles.
In studying the legal and political foundations of Argentine capitalism, the author shows how merchants and capitalists coped with massive political upheaval and how political writers and intellectuals sought to forge a model of liberal republicanism. Among the topics examined are the transformation of commercial law, the evolution of liberal political credos, and the saga of political and constitutional turmoil after the collapse of Spanish authority.
By the end of the nineteenth century, statemakers, capitalists, and liberal intellectuals settled on a model of political economy that aimed for open markets but closed the polity to widespread participation. The author concludes by exploring the long-term consequences of nineteenth-century statehood for the following century's efforts to promote sustained economic growth and democratize the political arena, and argues that many of Argentina's recent problems can be traced back to the framework and foundations of Argentine statehood in the nineteenth century.
The essays are unified by their attempt to view the penitentiary (as well as the variety of representations conveyed by the different reform movements favoring its adoption) as an interpretive moment, revealing of the ideology, class fractures, and contradictory nature of modernity in Latin America. As such, the book should be of interest not only to scholars concerned with criminal justice history, but also to a wide range of readers interested in modernization, social identities, and the discursive articulation of social conflict. The collection also offers an up-to-date sampling of new historical approaches to the study of criminal justice history, illuminates crucial aspects of the Latin American modernization process, and contrasts the Latin American cases with the better known European and North American experiences with prison reform.