Event Details

Organizers: Leticia Arroyo Abad (CUNY), José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez (Yale) and Emily Sellars (Yale)

Sponsored by the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund at the MacMillan Center at Yale University and the Economic History program at the Economic Growth Center at Yale University

Papers are password-protected - please contact Noel Sardalla for access.

Event Description

The literature on the consequences of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas takes a general approach to assessing whether colonial institutions were “good” or “bad” for long-term development. Colonial institutions, however, were not a monolith. A wide variety of institutions regulated labor, land, taxation, and the political rights of different segments of the population and were very different across time and space. Moreover, applied differently to Europeans, indigenous, and Afro-descendant people. While colonial institutions were usually designed to benefit the Crown and the local elites at the expense of commoners, these commoners—workers, servants, peasants, artisans, and enslaved people—were often able to subvert, resist, negotiate, or co-opt the institutions for their own purposes, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Conference Program

Friday, December 8

87 Trumbull St., B120

9:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast
10:00 - 10:30 AM Welcome by Leticia Arroyo Abad (CUNY & CEPR), José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez (Yale University), and Emily Sellars (Yale University) 
10:30 - 11:15 AM "The Political Economy of Labor Coercion in Colonial Spanish America" by Leticia Arroyo Abad (CUNY & CEPR), José Antonio Espín-Sánchez (Yale University), and Desiree Desierto (George Mason University)
11:15 – 12:00 PM "The Encomienda: An Early Modern Global Institution of Empire-Making" by Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez (University of Texas at Austin)
12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch


1:00 – 1:30 PM "Connecting the Dots and Braving the Gaps: Building a Spatiotemporal Framework for Colonial Spanish America” by Werner Stangl (EHESS-CRH Paris)
1:30 – 2:15 PM "Constructive Extraction? Encomienda, the Colonial State, and Development in Colombia" by Jean-Paul Faguet (LSE), Camilo Matajira, Fabio Sánchez (Universidad de los Andes)
2:15 – 3:00 PM "Mutuality and Self-Governance in the Guaraní Mission World, Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries" by Shawn Austin (University of Arkansas)
3:00 – 3:30 PM Coffee Break
3:30 – 4:15 PM   "The Complexity of Urban Grain Market Institutions in Late Colonial Mexico" by Amílcar Challú (Bowling Green State University)
4:15 – 5:00 PM "Corruption and Market Power in New Spain's Tobacco Monopoly" by Carlos Ponzio (ITESM)
6:00 PM Dinner (by invitation only)

Saturday, December 9

87 Trumbull St., B120

9:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast
10:00 - 10:45 AM "Contesting the Empire: Indigenous Resistance under Colonialism" by Edgar Franco-Vivanco (University of Michigan)
10:45 – 11:30 AM "Unequal Burden: Colonial Taxation and Living Standard Disparities Within Minorities" by Jenny Guardado (Georgetown University)
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM "The End of Slavery in Brazil: Escape and Resistance on the Road to Freedom" by François Seyler (Wesleyan University) and Arthur Silve (Université Laval and Institute for Advanced Study)
12:15 PM Lunch
* If you have been invited to and plan to attend Friday’s group dinner, please sign up at https://doodle.com/meeting/participate/id/b8oGz2oa. Thank you!


Leticia Arroyo Abad
The City University of New York and
The Center for Economic and Policy Research

Shawn M. Austin
University of Arkansas

Amílcar E. Challú
Bowling Green State University

Desiree Desierto
George Mason University

José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez
Yale University

Jean-Paul Faguet
London School of Economics

Edgar Franco-Vivanco
University of Michigan

Jenny Guardado
Georgetown University

Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez
University of Texas at Austin

Carlos Ponzio
Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM)

Emily Sellars
Yale University

François Seyler
Wesleyan University 

Werner Stangl
L'Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales Paris (EHESS-CRH Paris)