Approaches to the Study of Latin American Economic History in the Post-Colonial Period
THE economic history of colonial Latin America has received considerable scholarly attention, but the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have not been as well served until quite recently. One reason for this is that the running of the highly centralised, bureaucratic Spanish and Portuguese empires generated a much greater quantity of documentation than the briefer and more chaotic national period. It has also been suggested by Stein [Cortés Conde and Stein, 1977] that until the Great Depression there was relatively little modern economic history written because what had sparked off such research in the more advanced countries — the far-reaching changes associated with the industrial revolution — had not occurred here. Furthermore, before 1929 substantive critical analysis was limited because it was widely believed by most observers that Latin America would follow the path of development mapped out by the industrialised countries, or at least develop by exploiting its supposed comparative advantage in the production of primary commodities within the world economy.
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