Doctor Essay

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Between the Old and the New Regime: the Triumph of the Intermediate Bodies in the Quito Audience, 1765-1830. Federica Morelli The aim of this essay is to show that, during the period that goes from the Bourbon reforms and the crisis of the Spanish monarchy to the formation of the independent states, one of the main Spanish American colonial institutions was reinforced and politically consolidated: the cabildo, or said in more modern terms, the municipio (town council). In the region corresponding to today’s Ecuador, as well as in other Spanish American areas, the consolidation of the municipio would determine a very specific historical and political situation, though not unique in the landscape of that time: the victory of the intermediate bodies of the old regime over the modern state. This topic is of great importance because it has direct implications for the Latin American concern for the construction of the nation state. Traditional historiographical approaches consider that caudillos, the army and factionalism were responsible for the so-called „anarchy“ of the first decades of the postcolonial republics. However, the performance of these political actors would not have been so successful without the support of the towns and their councils. Indeed, the fracture between state and municipio accompanies the long process of construction of the nation state in Latin America, and it is evident that „municipalismo“ continues to be a strong and positive value for Latin Americans. Throughout the whole of the nineteenth century governments considered that the municipios should be administrative bodies, whereas the pueblos (communities, villages) saw them as the main instrument to achieve the local self-government. As we will see, this fracture has its origin in the Cádiz period, when hundreds of elective ayuntamientos (municipal councils) were constituted

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