Liberals, the Church, and Indian Peasants: Corporate Lands and the Challenge of Reform in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Americaed. by Robert H. Jackson (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 84, Number 1, January 1998
- pp. 160-161
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- Additional Information
160BOOK REVIEWS the ultramontane CathoUc energizer (centered in Rome) and the evangeUcal Protestant thrust from societies in England. Amid this divergence is the somewhat neutral Hudson's Bay Company.TotaUy lost, in my opinion, is the voice of the "conquered." Given the expanse of geography, poUtics, and time he covers, Choquette manages the juggling with few mishaps. Repetition, redundancy, and some errors are but annoying mosquito bites that distract readers foUowing the miUtary analogy. Today's students, though, might find the analogy and Choquette's analysis lacking in respect to Amerindians, as noted above. Furthermore, he gives short shrift to CathoUc sisterhoods who allied themselves with the Oblates to serve the peoples of the Northwest. His nominal acknowledgment of the Sisters in the text is compensated for, somewhat, by Ulustrations. Unfortunately, the Ulustrations only depict these women cutting fish, feeding chickens, or demurely sitting with staid settlers. Choquette's bibliography provides serious readers with possibiUties for deeper, more specific, studies. For example, the Sisters of Saint Ann preceded the Oblates at Dawson in theYukon in 1898.These women brought to the northwest missions decades of experience in education and health care in British Columbia and Alaska. Accounts of Oblate interaction with the various sisterhoods sharing mission experiences in the North would have added important nuances to Choquette's weU-documented story. AU in aU, Robert Choquette is to be commended for his contribution to the ReUgions and BeUefs series. His book does enlighten the reader about the organization and immensity of the project that, wiUy-nUly, forever now wiU be Ln my mind as the Oblate assault on Canada's Northwest. Margaret Cantwell, S.S.A. Victoria, British Columbia Latin American Liberals, the Church, and Indian Peasants: Corporate Lands and the Challenge of Reform in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America. Edited by Robert H. Jackson. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1997. Pp. vi, 228. $47.50.) The essays in this anthology analyze nineteenth-century Uberal poUcies in selected nations of Mesoamerica and the centralAndean BoUvarian republics that were intended to curtaU both clerical control of corporate properties and the communal ownership of indigenous lands. In seven case studies drawn largely from archival sources in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and BoUvia, the contributors document simUarities and differences in the implementation of laws affecting land utUization. Their findings demonstrate why proposed sweeping reforms often were modified to address local needs and aspirations. Many of their conclusions offer new perspectives, revising several interpretations in such works as Jan Bazant's 1971 Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico: Social and Eco- BOOK REVIEWS161 nomic Aspects of the Liberal Revolution, 1856-1875, and Florencia MaUon's recent comparative study, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru. WhUe delineating persistent Uberal objectives concerning Indian communal lands and ecclesiastical holdings foUowing the achievement of Latin American independence, most of the essays focus on trends and resistant strategies after 1850.They contrast the often imprecise and vague reform efforts of early national leaders and theorists with the clearly defined developmental projects of poUcy makers during the second half of the nineteenth century. Reflecting Enlightenment ideals, liberals in Mexico and Bolivia initiaUy were eager to transform church estates into more productive agricultural enterprises, modernize society, and end the isolation of the indigenous population from national institutions . Their determination to reaUze these goals was evident in anticlerical legislation aimed at halting mortmain, attempts to replace church schools with pubUc ones, and plans to make the Indians yeomen citizens whose loyalties would extend beyond their native vUlages to the emerging national state. Several of the case studies Ln the volume attribute the uneven success of these reformers to local demands and exigencies, which either altered Uberal laws or prevented their enforcement. PoUcy makers during the closing decades of the nineteenth century assumed more pragmatic approaches to modernization and economic development. In the 1870's, for example, whUe Justo Rufino Barrios was directing the disentailment of church properties in Guatemala to hasten socio-economic change, reformers Ln BoUvia encouraged missionary activities along the eastern frontier to foster agricultural expansion. Unlike Barrios , who ordered the closing of aU convents, BoUvian leaders, recognizing the support various congregations of nuns had traditionaUy enjoyed...