Thursday, September 07, 2006

A landmark Hispanic Philippines study: Colonias para después de un imperio

I recently finished reading Josep M. Fradera's landmark cross-colonial study, Colonias para después de un imperio. In contrast to most other historians who base their colonial narratives on documents and studies from their particular countries, Señor Fradera crosses the oceans to compare the experiences of the three colonies left behind with the metropolí after the 1820s: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Through this exhaustive 750-page book, Sr. Fradera examines the economic structures that were established to continue the fiscal maintenance of each colony, going into a comparative detailed study of their nascent sugar and tobacco industries, as well as the social systems built around them, in particular slavery. He also examines very carefully the political systems in each colony, which were a marked contrast from the liberal tendencies in Madrid.

He exposes the systematic exclusion of the American and Philippine colonies from the constitutional processes resurgent in 19th century Spain, leaving them under an authoritarian rule in sharp contrast to that of the Peninsula. This book is a landmark study not only in the Philippines but also in Spain, because it establishes definitively the authentic global dimensions of Spanish history from the 18th to late 19th century.

Sr. Pradera is a Ph.D. in contemporary history of Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and currently teaches at Universidad Pompeu Fabra. He was a visiting professor at Harvard and New York University. He has published several titles on comparative colonialism, including the brilliant book Filipinas, la colonia más peculiar (CSIC: Madrid, 1999).


No comments: