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Economy and political culture of the indigenous population in Mexico during the transition from colony to independent nation-state, 1750-1850. A neo-institutional perspective

The project aims to analyze the relationship between economic performance and practices on the one hand and cultural influences on the other hand in order to better understand the role of the indigenous population in economic processes in Latin America, i.e. Mexico and the impact of colonialism on their behaviour within the colonial and national society. We use the neo-institutional approach that views culture as an informal institution that constrains and guides the choices of economic agents, and explains Latin American underdevelopment by referring to a supposedly stable and homogenous “Hispanic culture”, as a starting point. Parting from this approach we intend firstly to complicate the issue by combining it with discussions on transculturation in order to show the complexity and heterogeneity of colonial culture in Spanish America and secondly to integrate colonialism’s impact on the indigenous population in the analysis. Furthermore, we are interested in the appropriations and cultural transformations of political concepts that influenced the agency of indigenous groups in different socioeconomic settings. Thereby, we hope to contribute to recent research emphasizing the agency of the indigenous population and their contributions to economic and political developments in a central phase of Latin American history.

José Antonio Serrano Ortega