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Salt and the Colombian State

Local Society and Regional Monopoly in Boyacá, 1821-1900

Joshua M. Rosenthal

Publication Year: 2012

In republican Colombia, salt became an important source of revenue not just to individuals, but to the state, which levied taxes on it and in some cases controlled and profited from its production. Focusing his study on the town of La Salina, Joshua M. Rosenthal presents a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the early Colombian state, its institutions, and their interactions with local citizens during this formative period.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Latin American Series

Front Cover

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p. v

Acknowledgments [Includes Note on Sources]

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pp. vii-xii

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1. The Salt Monopoly, the State, and the Boyacá

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pp. 3-16

In 1806, when Ignacio Caicedo drew a sketch of La Salina de Chita, in eastern Colombia, it wasn’t much of a town, though that hardly mattered to him. An administrator who oversaw the sale of salt, all of which was controlled in theory by a Spanish royal monopoly, Caicedo was...

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2. Change and Community in La Salina

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pp. 17-40

People made salt in the spot that would become La Salina de Chita long before the Spanish arrived and gave the town its name. Its pre-Columbian residents were the Lache, an indigenous group that formed part of the polity called the confederación del Cocuy. ...

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3. Making Salt in a Ministry Works

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pp. 41-61

Salt is now a humble substance. Industrial advances in drilling and chemistry have long rendered salt easy to make and cheap to buy. If anything, we now consume too much salt rather than too little. This was not the case for most of human history, during which salt ranged from relatively...

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4. The Ministry Monopoly and the Market Monopoly

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pp. 62-93

The history of salt making in La Salina presents many ironies, among them the widespread perception that La Salina’s salt-making industry was a failure even though, at least in terms of production, it was a success. As with contemporary scholarship that considers the state, reflections...

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5. La Salina and Colombian History to 1857

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pp. 94-112

La Salina was unique as a town in the way that an outsized state presence—specifically, the state’s economic policies—remade local life there and in the way that this effort generated systematic documentation. But the portrait of local state building has implications beyond this single...

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6. La Salina, Boyacá, and Colombia after 1857

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pp. 113-144

In La Salina 1857 marked the zenith of local defiance to the Finance Ministry. In the nation as a whole, it was the year when Colombia moved from being a country composed of provinces to one formed by increasingly sovereign states. Formally this process played out in the ratification...


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pp. 145-199


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pp. 201-217


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pp. 219-222

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822977988
E-ISBN-10: 0822977982
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961802
Print-ISBN-10: 0822961806

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pitt Latin American Series
Series Editor Byline: John Charles Chasteen and Catherine M. Conaghan, Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794925897
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Salt and the Colombian State

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Government monopolies -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Salt industry and trade -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Salt mines and mining -- Government policy -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Colombia -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • Boyacá (Colombia : Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Colombia -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
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