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‘This Mixed Species of Population Will Consume’: Atlantic Expectations about Spanish American Consumers in the Age of Revolutions, 1780–1831

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2019

Ana María Otero-Cleves
Affiliation:
Associate Professor in the Department of History, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This article explores how late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century ideas of the Spanish American consumer took shape. It argues that Atlantic debates on consumption, on the one hand, and on racial difference, on the other, provided a common ground on which foreign visitors, diplomats and commentators, as well as Colombian elite intellectuals, could jointly create a positive idea of the Spanish American consumer. The article demonstrates that, in the eyes of those who had either political or economic interest in the region, it was possible for Spanish American Indians, Blacks and ‘mixed races’ to gradually overcome their ‘backwardness’ by adopting new practices of consumption. The consumption of new necessities by the Spanish American popular sectors became, for many of these commentators, an irrefutably civilising force.

Spanish abstract

Este artículo explora cómo tomaron forma las ideas del consumidor de la América Hispánica de fines del siglo XVIII y principios del XIX. Señala que los debates atlánticos sobre el consumo, por un lado, y sobre la diferencia racial, por el otro, proporcionaron un terreno común en el que visitantes extranjeros, diplomáticos y comentaristas, así como intelectuales de la élite colombiana, pudieron crear conjuntamente una idea positiva del consumidor hispanoamericano. El artículo demuestra que para aquellos que tenían intereses políticos o económicos en la región era posible concebir que los indios, negros y ‘razas mezcladas’ de Hispanoamérica podrían superar gradualmente su ‘atraso’ mediante la adopción de nuevas prácticas de consumo. El consumo de nuevas necesidades por parte de los sectores populares hispanoamericanos se volvió, para muchos de estos comentaristas, una fuerza civilizadora irrefutable.

Portuguese abstract

Este artigo explora como se formaram ideias sobre o consumidor Hispano-Americano no final do século dezoito e começo do século dezanove. Também argumenta que debates Atlânticos, que de um lado abordavam consumo e de outro a diferença racial, proporcionaram um consenso sobre o qual visitantes estrangeiros, diplomatas, comentaristas, e também intelectuais da elite Colombiana, puderam criar uma ideia positiva do consumidor Hispano-Americano. Este artigo demonstra que aos olhos dos que tinham interesse político ou económico na região, era possível para os índios Hispano-Americanos, negros e miscigenados gradualmente superar seus estados de ‘atraso’ através da adopção de novas práticas de consumo. O consumo de novas necessidades pelos sectores populares Hispano-Americanos se tornou, para muitos destes comentaristas, uma força civilizadora irrefutável.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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References

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3 For the eighteenth-century political economy of Spain and Spanish America see, among many others, Cañizares-Esguerra, Jorge, How to Write the History of the New World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004)Google Scholar; Cañizares-Esguerra, Jorge, ‘Eighteenth-Century Spanish Political Economy: Epistemology and Decline’, in Nature, Empire, and Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), pp. 96111Google Scholar; Paquette, Gabriel, Enlightenment, Governance and Reform in Spain and its Empire, 1759–1808 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)Google Scholar; Paquette, Gabriel (ed.), Enlightened Reform in Southern Europe and its Atlantic Colonies, c.1750–1830 (London and New York: Routledge, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On New Granada, see: María José Afanador-Llach, ‘Political Economy, Geographical Imagination, and Territory in the Making and Unmaking of New Granada, 1739–1830’, unpubl. PhD diss., University of Texas, 2016.

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11 Unlike Hume and Smith, Mandeville saw consumption as a source of public wealth, but not of individual virtue: ‘avarice, prodigality, luxury, envy, vanity, and gluttony lead not to social decay and disorder but to prosperity’, cited in de Vries, The Industrious Revolution, p. 46. For a complete and excellent summary of the subject, see de Vries, The Industrious Revolution, chapter 2.

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19 Ibid., as cited by Paquette, ‘Views from the South’, p. 85.

Ibid.

20 Melo, Jorge Orlando, ‘Introducción’, in Escritos económicos: Antonio de Narváez y José Ignacio de Pombo (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 2010), pp. 78Google Scholar.

21 de Vargas, Pedro Fermín, Pensamientos políticos y memoria sobre la población del Nuevo Reino de Granada (Bogotá: Biblioteca Popular de la Cultura Colombiana, 1944), p. 95Google Scholar. My emphasis. This and subsequent translations from Spanish to English are mine.

22 De Vries, The Industrious Revolution, chapter 2.

23 Papel Periódico de la Ciudad de Santafé de Bogotá, no. 12, 29 April 1791, pp. 89–90. My emphasis.

Ibid.

25 José Ignacio de Pombo, ‘Informe del Real Consulado de Cartagena de Indias’, in Escritos económicos: Antonio de Narváez y José Ignacio de Pombo, p. 282.

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27 This argument will be further developed in the third section of this article.

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40 See, for instance, Anonymous [Manuel Torres], Reflexiones sobre el comercio de España con sus colonias en tiempo de guerra (Philadelphia, PA: T. and G. Palmer, 1799), published in English in 1800.

41 Torres, An Exposition of the Commerce of Spanish America, p. 1.

42 Ibid.

Ibid

43 Torres used colonial territorial administrative divisions to describe Spanish America: the viceroyalties of New Spain, New Granada, Peru and Rio de la Plata, and the four captain-generalships of Yucatán, Guatemala, Venezuela and Chile, the islands in the Caribbean – Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, etc. – and those in the Pacific, off the shore of Chile. Torres, An Exposition of the Commerce of Spanish America, p. 8.

44 Ibid., p. 9. This is a characterisation that was certainly shared with other Neogranadinos. Indeed, Francisco José de Caldas and his contemporaries had been offering in the scientific journal Semanario del Nuevo Reyno de Granada – which Torres knew – a somewhat utopian view of the kingdom's commercial destiny based on the uniqueness of New Granada's geography and of its blessed and bountiful natural resources. In his Estado de la geografía del Virreinato (p. 188), Caldas proclaimed in a tone very similar to that of Torres that ‘Nueva Granada appear[ed] destined by its geographical position for universal commerce’.

Ibid.

45 Torres, An Exposition of the Commerce of Spanish America, p. 7.

46 Ibid., p. 10.

Ibid.

47 Ibid., pp. 10–11.

Ibid.

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54 Ibid., p. 477.

Ibid.
Ibid.

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62 Archivo General de la Nación (Bogotá, Colombia), Historia, SAA-I.17, 23, D.69. Título 69. This archive contains, inter alia, Walker's reports to the Colombian government on British public opinion regarding Spanish American independence and his complaints to Zea about not being paid regularly.

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68 Ibid., p. 6.

Ibid

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71 The scholarship on ideas of race in the eighteenth century has grown too large to cite exhaustively, but see especially Davis, David Brion, ‘Constructing Race: A Reflection’, William and Mary Quarterly, 54: 1 (1997), pp. 718CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hudson, Nicholas, ‘From “Nation” to “Race”: The Origins of Racial Classification in Eighteenth-Century Thought’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 29: 3 (1996), pp. 247–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Pagden, Anthony, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)Google Scholar; Kidd, Colin, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 Henderson, Observations on the Great Commercial Benefits, pp. 43–4.

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74 Ibid., p. 7.

Ibid

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76 As argued by Jan de Vries, ‘the New Luxury paired what David Hume called a “refinement in the gratification of the senses” with incentives to the expansion of commerce’, and polished and softened manners in a commercial society: The Industrious Revolution, p. 45.

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79 Ibid., p. 64.

Ibid.

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81 Ibid., p. 68; emphasis added.

Ibid.

82 Ibid., pp. 172–5, cited in Afanador-Llach, ‘Political Economy’, p. 66.

Ibid.

83 Safford, Frank, ‘Race, Integration, and Progress: Elite Attitudes and the Indian in Colombia, 1750–1870’, The Hispanic American Historical Review, 71: 1 (1991), pp. 133CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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85 Hall, Francis, Colombia: Its Present State, in Respect of Climate, Soil, Productions, Population, Government, Commerce, Revenue, Manufactures, Arts, Literature, Manners, Education, and Inducements to Emigration: With an Original Map; and Itineraries, Partly from Spanish Surveys, and Partly from Actual Observations (London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, 1827), p. 11Google Scholar.

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Ibid.

87 Ibid., p. 14.

Ibid.

88 Ibid., p. 36; my emphasis.

Ibid.

89 Ibid., p. 37.

Ibid.

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91 Ibid., p. 330.

Ibid.

92 Gerbi, Antonello, The Dispute of the New World: The History of a Polemic, 1750–1900 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Cañizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World.

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Ibid.

95 Pombo, ‘Informe del Real Consulado de Cartagena de Indias’, p. 330.

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98 Ibid., Preface, p. [v].

Ibid.

99 Ibid., p. 14.

Ibid.

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102 José Ignacio de Márquez, Esposición que el Ministro de Estado en el Despacho de Hacienda presenta a la Convención sobre los negocios de su Departamento (Bogotá, 3 Oct. 1831), p. 2. Available at http://repositorio.banrep.gov.co/handle/20.500.12134/186, last access 10 Jan. 2019.

103 Ibid, p. 7.

Ibid

104 Henry Wood to George Canning, 28 Feb. 1826, quoted in Humphreys (ed.), British Consular Reports, pp. 236–7.

105 Otero-Cleves, ‘Foreign Machetes and Cheap Cotton Cloth’.

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