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Rediscovering America: Political Economy of Spanish Colonies according to the Explorers Juan-Ulloa, Malaspina and Humboldt

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Article of journalPerdices de Blasa, Luis; Ramos Gorostiza, José Luis. (Univ. Complutense de Madrid, España). Rediscovering America: Political Economy of Spanish Colonies according to the Explorers Juan-Ulloa, Malaspina and Humboldt.  / Redescubrimiento de América: Economía política de las colonias españolas según los exploradores Juan-Ulloa, Malaspina y Humboldt Revista de Historia Económica. Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, 2016 vol. 34 no. 1 p. 135-159. Keywords:
Latin America
Jorge Juan; Antonio de Ulloa; Alessandro Malaspina; Alexander von Humboldt; colonias hispanoamericanas
19th century | 18th century


Two scientists and sailors from the Spanish Navy, Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, the Italian sailor and explorer Alessandro Malaspina, and the German sage Alexander von Humboldt were the main actors in three great voyages to Spanish America between the second-third of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. This enabled them to provide three first hand «photographs» of the state of the Spanish empire in America at three different moments in time: approximately before, during and after the implementation of colonial reforms designed in the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III. This work aims, in the first place, to compare the socio-economic views of Spanish America deriving from the three expeditions, highlighting similarities and differences. Second, this work aims to connect the analysis of the weaknesses of the politico-institutional organisation of Spanish colonies, which the four travellers did at first hand, with the present debate on the role of colonial institutions in long-term economic development.

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