State Formation and Democracy in Latin America, 1810-1900

State Formation and Democracy in Latin America, 1810-1900

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 6 photographs, 11 tables, 6 figures Published: April 2000

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies, Politics > Political Science

Despite a shared colonial past, South American nations experienced different patterns of conflict in the nineteenth century. These differences led to the creation of a variety of states and regimes, from authoritarian military oligarchies to popular democracies. Using a rigorous logic of comparison, Fernando López-Alves explores the roots of state building in five countries and explains why the political systems of these early postindependent societies were prone to militarism, corporatism, or liberal democracy.
Breaking with the traditional economic analysis of South American development, López-Alves argues that civil-military relations lay at the core of state building. By comparing three countries in particular—Uruguay, Colombia, and Argentina—during an intense phase of state and regime formation, he shows how war and the collective action of the rural poor contributed to the construction of central armies, the rise of new social classes, and the emergence of civilian organizations. He also examines characteristics unique to each country’s war-formed culture and discusses how coalitions were built during this period. Examples from Paraguay and Venezuela and references to state formation in Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East add to the complexity and richness of the study’s comparative analysis.
Drawing on a vast bibliography of both primary and secondary sources, López-Alves goes beyond providing insights into the particular development of Latin American countries and introduces a comprehensive theory of state formation applicable to other regions. This book will interest Latin Americanists, historians, political scientists, and sociologists studying state formation.


“An extraordinary contribution to the literature on state formation and the origins of democracy in Latin America. López-Alves’s argument is extremely provocative, persuasive, and intelligently grounded in important historiographical debates on nineteenth-century developments in these countries.” — Charles W. Bergquist, University of Washington

“Instead of wringing his hands about failures of nineteenth-century Latin American states to match European models or retreating into mysteries of their culture, Fernando López-Alves boldly places Latin American state formation in historical and comparative perspective. The result is a fresh, informed view of political change during a struggle-filled century.” — Charles Tilly, Columbia University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Fernando López-Alves is Director of the UC Santa Barbara Washington Center and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations ix

Tables xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

1 The Argument: War, Polities, and the Rural Poor 15

2 Gauchos, Ranchers, and State Autonomy in Uruguay, 1811-1890 49

3 A Weak Army and Restrictive Democracy: Columbia, 1810-1886 96

4 A Stronger State and Urban Military: Argentina, 1810-1890 140

5 Two Alternative Paths of State Making: Venezuela and Paraguay 193

Conclusions 212

Notes 221

References 225

Index 285
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2474-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2450-8
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