Colonial Legacies or Revolutionary Innovations? New Research on Race, Slavery, and Citizenship in Latin American Independence

By Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

Once seen as deeply conservative, Latin American independence in the early 19th century now appears to have been deeply democratic and radical, especially in societies where slavery figured prominently. Political democracy, the removal of formal racial discrimination, and the abolition of slavery are among the accomplishments that historians now point to when positing the revolutionary changes of the period. This article discusses how these profound revisions have come about and explores how historians have treated the role of colonial structures in shaping revolutionary expectations.

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