Assimilation via integration: Lía Quarleri, ‘New forms of colonialism on the frontiers of Hispanic America: Assimilationist projects and economic disputes (Río de la Plata, late eighteenth century)’, in Damien Tricoire (ed.), Enlightened colonialism: Civilization narratives and imperial politics in the Age of Reason, Palgrave, 2017, pp. 93-110


Abstract: By the end of the eighteenth century, intense transformations had taken place in the Americas in relation to both local processes and to more general circumstances that affected the population, economy, and politics. Accordingly, the Spanish Crown expressed a vigorous interest in its American colonies through economic goals formulated in the framework of a general plan regarding fiscal, administrative, and geopolitical reforms. In the Río de la Plata area, in particular, a policy fostering the territorial annexation of strategic regions was implemented. These zones had remained, until that moment, peripheral and marginal areas because of their proximity to Lusitanian domains, to resistant indigenous populations, or to the lack of direct state intervention. Areas inhabited by Guarani Indians that had been under the administration of the Jesuits are a case in point. The colonial expansion in the territory of the missions was part of a bigger plan, which can be termed “frontier reformism.” This chapter aims, therefore, to analyze the specificities of the new assimilationist policy applied to former Jesuit missions in the Río de la Plata area. The period under study extends from the Jesuit expulsion in 1767 to the “exemption” of the communal obligations project implemented by Viceroy Avilés in 1801. Particularly, it focuses on the internal contradictions of the Bourbon policies regarding the well-being and happiness of the people, and the disputes over power and economic resources.

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