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Colonial Institutions and Cross-Cultural Trade: Repartimiento Credit and Indigenous Production of Cochineal in Eighteenth-Century Oaxaca, Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2005

JEREMY BASKES
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, Department of History, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio 43015. E-mail: jabaskes@owu.edu.

Abstract

Colonial societies exhibit peculiar institutions frequently attributed to the unequal and exploitative nature of the relations between colonizer and colonized. Repartimiento has been depicted as a coercive system of production and consumption designed by Spaniards to draw reluctant Amerindians into the market. An examination of repartimiento through the lens of New Institutional Economics provides an alternative understanding of this credit system. Characteristics of the repartimiento most often identified as exploitative are better explained as institutional adaptations designed to facilitate contract enforcement and economize on transaction costs in this cross-cultural trade. Consequently, this peculiar colonial institution served to expand trade.

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ARTICLES
Copyright
© 2005 The Economic History Association

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