Crime and Punishment in Latin America

Law and Society Since Late Colonial Times

Crime and Punishment in Latin America

Book Pages: 480 Illustrations: 11 tables, 5 figures Published: September 2001

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies, Law > Legal History

Crowning a decade of innovative efforts in the historical study of law and legal phenomena in the region, Crime and Punishment in Latin America offers a collection of essays that deal with the multiple aspects of the relationship between ordinary people and the law. Building on a variety of methodological and theoretical trends—cultural history, subaltern studies, new political history, and others—the contributors share the conviction that law and legal phenomena are crucial elements in the formation and functioning of modern Latin American societies and, as such, need to be brought to the forefront of scholarly debates about the region’s past and present.
While disassociating law from a strictly legalist approach, the volume showcases a number of highly original studies on topics such as the role of law in processes of state formation and social and political conflict, the resonance between legal and cultural phenomena, and the contested nature of law-enforcing discourses and practices. Treating law as an ambiguous and malleable arena of struggle, the contributors to this volume—scholars from North and Latin America who represent the new wave in legal history that has emerged in recent years-- demonstrate that law not only produces and reformulates culture, but also shapes and is shaped by larger processes of political, social, economic, and cultural change. In addition, they offer valuable insights about the ways in which legal systems and cultures in Latin America compare to those in England, Western Europe, and the United States.
This volume will appeal to scholars in Latin American studies and to those interested in the social, cultural, and comparative history of law and legal phenomena.

Contributors. Carlos Aguirre, Dain Borges, Lila Caimari, Arlene J. Díaz, Luis A. Gonzalez, Donna J. Guy, Douglas Hay, Gilbert M. Joseph, Juan Manuel Palacio, Diana Paton, Pablo Piccato, Cristina Rivera Garza, Kristin Ruggiero, Ricardo D. Salvatore, Charles F. Walker


“This volume offers a collection of essays dealing with the multiple aspects of the relationship between ordinary people and the law in Latin America. Building on trends such as cultural history, subaltern studies, and new political trends, the contributors bring to the forefront topics of scholarly debate about the region’s past and present.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

"A very useful introduction. . . . This volume offers many insights into comparative histories with other formative legal orders. . .. A real milestone for historians wanting to take legal institutions seriously without portraying them in some of the rigid ways they once were." — Jeremy Adelman , Journal of Latin American Studies

"[A]n innovative examination of popular and state legal institutions throughout modern Latin America. . . . [A] strong contribution to the growing field of Latin American legal history."

— Jonathan D. Ablard , New Mexico Historical Review

"[C]ertain to be useful in establishing this emergent area of study. Its thoughtful, compelling and often clever empirical inquiries into the intersection of law and society across Latin American history enable the reader to see not only themes of broad theoretical interest in law and society, but also the history of this region, in a new light." — Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, Punishment and Society

"Fascinating. . . . Valuable for Latin Americanists precisely because the editors and authors succeed in making connections across time and space, and it is an important resource for nonspecialists looking for comparative examples and new perspectives to bring to their studies." — Joan Bristol , Journal of Social History

"Rich, and for the most part, highly readable texts for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses in Latin American history and anthropology." — Deborah Poole , American Historical Review

"The essays are very accessible to nonspecialists in either Latin American law or the contemporary nuances of cultural studies." — Michael Monteón , History: Reviews of New Books

"Ricardo D. Salvatore and Carlos Aguirre begin the volume with a brisk synthesis of Latin American legal history and a brief agenda for future research. This is a model essay that any graduate student preparing for comprehensive exams should appreciate for its broad yet concise critical assessment of a significant field. . . . [Crime and Punishment] will be a significant point of departure in research in the field of legal history for some time to come." — Peter Beattie , H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews

"These authors allow us a generally sensitive look at both the larger movements and at the individuals and communities negotiating their lives and fates."
— Malcolm Greenshields , Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"This fine collection of 15 essays plus a preface well illustrates the vigor and variety of newer work in the field. . . . [I]ntelligent. . . . [T]hese essays remind us that a healthy dose of sweat equity in the archives bolstered by reading beyond one’s narrow focus produce felicitous outcomes."
— Richard W. Slatta , Hispanic American Historical Review

"This volume's primary contribution is . . . a broadly comparative perspective on the ascendance of 'modernizing' liberal ideologies. Perhaps most importantly, these essays expose the disunity and incompleteness of Latin America's liberal project, as well as the marked divergence between the political liberalism of consolidating Latin American and the market liberalism of the United States and Britain." — Jocelyn Olcott , EIAL

“This collection makes clear, through well-researched case studies and specific examples, that the law and legal institutions have had a more important role in maintaining the social order and the regulation of contention in Latin American history than previously revealed. As such, it will have a crucial impact on this and other fields.” — Thomas H. Holloway, University of California, Davis

“This volume marks a breakthrough in the historical study of criminality, social deviance, punishment, and legal systems in Latin America. The contributions are empirically deep, interestingly theorized, and brought together by a very sophisticated introductory essay. The essays immerse us in such vital themes as modernization and the law, the medicalization of crime and deviance, and the modes by which ordinary people faced the state and its institutions—in the broad issue of legal culture, in other words.” — Eric Van Young, University of California, San Diego


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ricardo D. Salvatore is Professor of Modern History at the Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Carlos Aguirre is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oregon.

Gilbert M. Joseph is Farnam Professor of History and Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Tables and Figures

Preface / Gilbert M. Joseph


Introduction: Writing the History of Law, Crime, and Punishment in Latin America / Carlos Aguirre and Ricardo D. Salvatore

Part I. Legal Mediations: State, Society, and the Conflictive Nature of Law and Justice

Crime in the Time of the Great Fear: Indians and the State in the Peruvian Southern Andes, 1780-1820 / Charles F. Walker

Women, Order, and Progress in Guzmán Blanco’s Venezuela, 1870–1888 / Arlene J. Díaz

Judges, Lawyers, and Farmers: Uses of Justice and the Circulation of Law in Rural Buenos Aires, 1900–1940 / Juan Manuel R. Palacio

Work, Property, and the Negotiation of Rights in the Brazilian Cane Fields: Campos, Rio de Janeiro, 1930–1950 / Luis A. González

Part II. The Social and Cultural Construction of Crime

The Criminalizaton of the Syphilitic Body: Prostitutes, Health Crimes, and Society in Mexico City, 1867–1930 / Christina Rivera-Garza

Healing and Mischief: Witchcraft in Brazilian Law and Literature, 1890–1922 / Dain Borges

Passion, Perversity, and the Pace of Justice in Argentina at the Turn of the Last Century / Kristin Ruggiero

Cuidado con los Rateros: The Making of Criminals in Modern Mexico City / Pablo Piccato

Part III / Contested Meanings of Punishment

The Penalties of Freedom: Punishment in Post-emancipation Jamaica / Diana Paton

Death and Liberalism: Capital Punishment after the Fall of Rosas / Ricardo D. Salvatore

Disputed Views of Incarceration in Lima, 1890–1930: The Prisoners’ Agena for Prison Reform / Carlos Aguirre

Girls in Prison: The Role of the Buenos Aires Casa Correccional de Mujeres as an Institution for Child Rescue, 1890–1940 / Donna J. Guy

Remembering Freedom: Life as Seen From the Prison Cell (Buenos Aires Province, 1930–1950) / Lila M. Caimari

Afterword: Law and Society in Comparative Perspective / Douglas Hay



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2744-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2734-9
Publicity material