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  • Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America. by John Tutino
  • Nathaniel Millett
Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America. By John Tutino. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. 712 pp. $99.95 (cloth); $29.95 (paper).

John Tutino’s Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America is a richly detailed and impressively researched history of the rise of capitalism between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the Bajío region, which is located northwest of Mexico City. Primarily focusing on the silver mining industry, Tutino argues that the development of capitalism in the Bajío and the region’s silver were central in the creation of a global economy that linked China, the Americas, Europe, and Africa during the early modern era. In the process of making this broad economic argument, Tutino admirably engages with social and cultural historical perspectives to produce a book that makes an important contribution to the fields of Latin American and world history.

Making a New World is a large and dense book that, remarkably, is the first of two planned volumes. A prologue, introduction, eight chapters divided evenly into two four-chapter parts (“Making a New World,” which covers the period between 1500 and 1770, and “Forging Atlantic Capitalism,” which focuses on the years from 1770 to 1810 respectively), a conclusion, and epilogue span the first 492 pages. This is followed by seven appendices over 117 pages that present an array of statistical data. Forty-seven pages of notes, an eighteen-page bibliography, and a thirteen-page index round out a 698-page monograph. This is a lot and may well put off the reading public and even some scholars whose research interests do not directly intersect with Making a New World. However, others will appreciate Tutino’s tight and descriptive prose, which makes assessable topics as diverse as Fernand Braudel, Karl Marx, race in early modern New Spain, and globalization as the author deftly weaves between theory and narrative.

Making a New World is organized chronologically in its attempt [End Page 210] to illustrate the centrality of Bajío silver in the global economy and the role that individuals and communities played in this process. The introduction lays out important topics such as early modern capitalism, Atlantic empires, trade, global history, patriarchy, ethnicity, and religion. These concepts provide the book with its theoretical underpinnings and serve, throughout the text, to provide the robust narrative with analytical life.

The first four chapters cover the period between 1500 and 1770. Chapter 1 looks at Querétaro until 1660, with particular attention paid to the Chichimeca wars, the rise of a commercial economy, the coming of Christianity, and the role of silver in each of these developments. The second chapter examines the development of silver mining in the Bajío while paying close attention to the lives and shifting identities of the region’s increasingly diverse population. Chapter 3 explores the boom era between 1680 and the Seven Years War in which the Bajío’s cities and countryside developed a thriving production- and consumption-based economy. On the eve of the Seven Years War, as the result of this economic growth, the Bajío had developed clear social, ethnic, and gendered hierarchies as an array of people contributed to a dynamic regional economy that had continental and global repercussions. The fourth chapter shifts gears and examines the period between 1760 and 1767, when the Bajío was rocked by a series of uprisings that were born from decades of mounting tensions and triggered by the fallout from the Seven Years War. Unlike in the Anglo colonies to the north, these movements were largely quashed and, when combined with imperial reform, did not set the scene for later revolutions.

Part 2 examines the period between 1770 and 1810. This was a particularly dynamic period in global history that was marked by political revolutions, imperial wars, and tremendous social and economic turbulence. In the Bajío this would prove to be a period of economic boom coupled with intense social and cultural pressures that...


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