Popular Movements in Nineteenth-Century Latin America
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0126
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0126
After most of Latin America became independent from Spain in the 1820s, popular groups faced the challenge of finding a place for themselves in the new, postcolonial nation-states. From being subjects of a European monarch, subaltern groups—be they indigenous peoples, Afro-Latin Americans, artisans, campesinos, women, or soldiers—now occupied an undefined social and political space in nation-states created, at least initially, by powerful elites. Over the course of the century, these groups utilized various strategies to deal with the new states and to attempt to improve their social, economic, and political livelihoods: direct rebellion, flight, concern with only local prerogatives, pursuit of patron/client relationships, and, most often, engagement with the nation and appropriation of the identity of citizen. It is this last strategy that has dominated the historiography of these movements since the 1990s. Before this, most works on popular movements asserted that 19th-century subalterns were ignorant of national politics, only concerned with life within view of their village church’s bell tower. If plebeians entered into national political life it was only as the clients of powerful patrons or as conscripted soldiers to serve as cannon fodder in wars between elite factions that meant nothing to them. Some subalterns did heroically rebel against the nation-state, but such insurrections were rare, doomed to fail, and ultimately did not affect the trajectory of Latin American societies. Since the early1990s, however, a new historiography of nation and state formation has stressed the importance of popular movements for shaping national politics and life. Not all popular movements rejected national life; many sought to claim a place in the nation, formed alliances with elite groups, called upon the state to help them, voted in elections, and fought in civil wars, all with an eye to bargaining with the powerful in order to improve their social, economic, and political lives.
There has yet to appear a synthetic “master narrative” on popular movements in 19th-century Latin America. Popular movements are, of course, treated in general histories of the region or individual nation-states. Most studies on popular movements focus on distinct and specific popular actions, in one country, often with a focus on one region. Studying subalterns’ politics and lives perhaps requires an intensely local focus, in order to understand how popular groups’ quotidian lives affected their participation in social movements. Additionally, the relatively recent focus on such movements in the historiography means that, arguably, only recently have enough secondary works appeared to allow a synthetic study. Therefore, comparative overviews and general treatments, beyond the national level, are still rare; Mallon 1995, a pioneering study, is the best, but compares only Mexico and Peru. Mallon’s study shares many theoretical preoccupations with Joseph and Nugent 1994, an edited volume to which the author contributed; both of these studies have informed many subsequent works. Larson 2004 provides the best effort at a synthetic study but covers only the Andean region, with a focus on indigenous peoples. Andrews 2004 offers a magisterial overview of the Afro-Latin American experience post-independence, with a much broader purview than popular movements, but does cover such actions in the 19th century. For those interested in Afro-Latin American experience after slavery, Scott, et al. 2002 provides an exhaustive bibliography in which to look for popular movements. Beyond these texts, perhaps the best general works are essay collections (Barragán, et al. 1997; Connaughton 2008) that bring together numerous approaches and topics (more of these collections may be found under Edited Collections).
Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America, 1800–2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Andrews argues for the essential role slaves and free people of color played in the independence wars, not just for wining independence but for initiating a great wave of movements for abolition and equality, which would roil the 19th century. He also explores how after the 1880s scientific racism’s dominance worked to roll back previous gains of citizenship and equality and restrict much popular action.
Barragán, Rossana, Dora Cajías, and Seemin Qayum, eds. El siglo XIX: Bolivia y América Latina. La Paz, Bolivia: Muela del Diablo Editores, 1997.
This edited collection, inspired by a conference in Bolivia (but covering the entire region), provides a rich overview of important trends in 19th-century historiography, from scholars working in Latin America, the United States, and Europe. While not all articles deal with popular movements, many touch on the importance of popular groups for understanding independence, regionalism, caudillismo, gender relations, labor and economic development, identity formation, nationalism, and national politics.
Connaughton, Brian F., ed. Prácticas populares, cultura política y poder en México, siglo XIX. Mexico City: Casa Juan Pablos, 2008.
A strong essay collection that seeks to emphasize the role of popular groups in shaping Mexican national politics, instead of the traditional focus on elites. The essays, which together provide an excellent overview of the variety of Mexican popular political activity, treat indigenous, Afro-Mexican, urban, campesino (country people), popular liberal, popular conservative, and popular religious movements.
Joseph, Gilbert, and Daniel Nugent, eds. Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994.
While almost every contribution to this volume is about post-revolutionary 20th-century popular movements, its theoretical framework has strongly influenced many studies of 19th-century movements. Instead of understanding popular movements as resistance against or accommodation to a hegemonic politics, the editors propose that nation and state formation was a negotiation between subalterns and elites and the state.
Larson, Brooke. Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Larson explores how immediately after independence indigenous peoples created their own visions of citizenship, focused on communal rights, within the new nation-states. Larson argues that after 1850, elites crushed such popular movements, embracing a liberalism (and racism) that rejected popular movements as antithetical to capitalist development and elite civilization.
Mallon, Florencia E. Peasant and Nation: The Making of Post-Colonial Mexico and Peru. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
The single monograph most synonymous with studies of 19th-century popular movements, especially popular politics. Mallon sought to understand why campesinos (country people) in Mexico and Peru supported liberal politicians, and how these subalterns’ popular liberalism affected both elite liberalism and nation formation. Instrumental in reviving an interest in 19th-century popular liberalism.
Scott, Rebecca J., Thomas C. Holt, Frederick Cooper, and Aims McGuinness. Societies after Slavery: A Select Annotated Bibliography of Printed Sources on Cuba, Brazil, British Colonial Africa, South Africa, and the British West Indies. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002.
This bibliography of both primary and secondary sources is an extensive and extremely useful resource for exploring Afro-Latin American life and action after emancipation in Cuba and Brazil (but not the bulk of Spanish America, unfortunately). While not directly focused on popular movements, the annotations do note which works share this concern.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500-1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in Nineteenth-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas