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9 - Shades of Unfreedom

Labor Regimes in Latin America in the Nineteenth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2023

Marcela Echeverri
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut
Cristina Soriano
Affiliation:
The University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

This chapter challenges received wisdom that focuses solely on politics to understand the revolutionary nature of independence in Latin America. It revisits Latin America’s independence processes by investigating the multiple forms of coerced labor regimes and forced migrations that emerged throughout the continent after the breakdown of colonialism. The region is a crucial site for exploring how in the nineteenth century liberal legal discourses aimed at erasing categories of social difference continued to reproduce inequality based on multiple iterations of unfree labor. In addition to placing Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish American mainland in the same frame, the chapter connects African, Chinese, and indigenous peoples’ histories. Seeking to shed new light on how independence impacted labor regimes, we engage with scholarship that argues for the employment of a transregional lens in the study of global labor regimes during the nineteenth century. A transregional approach to labor regimes reveals new dimensions to mechanisms of inequality and oppression that have long gripped the continent, while also connecting it to trends reshaping labor regimes on a global scale.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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