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Hispanic American Historical Review 82.1 (2002) 151-152

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Book Review

La organización regional del mercado interno Novohispano:
La economía colonial de Guadalajara, 1770-1804.

La organización regional del mercado interno Novohispano: La economía colonial de Guadalajara, 1770-1804. By ANTONIO IBARRA. Puebla: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2000 . Maps. Tables. Figures. Appendixes. Bibliography. 254 pp. Paper.

The historiography of Guadalajara and its surroundings is as rich and extensive as the region it describes. In this volume, Ibarra uses the example of Guadalajara and its region to challenge scholars to go beyond traditional descriptive regional histories and develop models and theories that could be applied more universally throughout Mexico. While acknowledging the wealth of documentary sources and historians' use of many concepts and explanatory models from other disciplines, Ibarra believes that defining the economic relationships (or lack of them) among colonial regions is needed in order to better understand important obstacles to postindependence national integration. He, therefore, proposes to analyze the dynamics of trade and economic production within Guadalajara's region, between the region and other areas of New Spain, and between the region and overseas territories.

Ibarra has written elsewhere about the workings of Guadalajara's late colonial economy, focusing on broad patterns of economic change as well as such details as the annual commercial fair at San Juan de Los Lagos and the alcabala. Here, he analyzes data on production and trade, in both volume and value, using Intendant José Fernando Abascal's Relaciones of 1802 and 1803 .

Ibarra's goal is to compare the movement of goods and wealth into and out of the region, in order to determine the relative importance of different economic sectors as sources of regional economic growth, and the place of the region's economy in the colonial-metropolis network. To do this, he considers separately the four main productive sectors of late colonial Guadalajara: agriculture, livestock, industrial goods, and mining. He examines the role of each sector in providing inputs for mining and manufacturing, and in meeting the demand for food and for other commodities. He carries out this comparison both for the region's internal economy, and for suppliers and markets in the external sector, meaning the colony of New Spain and overseas territories. The result is a series of calculations leading to a number of conclusions about specific goods and markets, and about Guadalajara's patterns of economic change.

One of Ibarra's general conclusions is that Guadalajara's regional economy experienced growth at the end of the eighteenth century, as it shifted from supplying inputs for mining and manufacturing to producing consumer goods such as foods, textiles, and leather goods. However, in its external trade, imports of goods from New Spain and overseas, especially luxury goods, were beginning to outweigh the income brought by sales outside the region. This imbalance, paid for with the wealth generated by local economic growth, eventually strangled capital [End Page 151] accumulation and the expansion of local textile manufacturing. The region's relations with external spheres played a strong role in its economic development as it entered the nineteenth century, and it is therefore important to reach beyond the region's boundaries in assessing its economic situation. The discussion is supported by more than one hundred tables of data and a number of maps, some of which are nearly impossible to interpret.

As Ruggiero Romano points out in the preface, readers may doubt the wisdom of applying modern statistical and accounting methods to this particular set of historical data. Indeed, on some important points Ibarra disagrees with Eric Van Young, Ramón María Serrera Contreras, and other highly respected historians. However, he gives the regional historical specialist food for thought and a creative methodology that should provoke future discussion of scale of analysis, quantitative techniques, and the use of historical data.


Linda Greenow
State University of New York-New Paltz



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pp. 151-152
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Archived 2004
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