conclusion
The central thesis of this book, its red thread, is that land privatization
peonage did not bring about the capitalist transformation of rural Gra
from1870to1930.Myargumentgoesagainsttheprevailingviewthatth
of coffee production in Nicaragua consolidated capitalism. In this co
sion, I reassess theories of capitalist development, patriarchy, and mest
presentedearlierandconsiderwhethertheevidencefromDiriomosupp
theircentraltheses.Icomparemyfindingswithotherstudiesoftheregio
ascertainwhetherDiriomo’shistorywastypicaloratypicalofsocialch
in Nicaragua.
On Capitalist Development
A major controversy in Latin American history centers on the nature
timing of the region’s transition to capitalism. This study revisits tha
bate, adding a gender perspective. I conclude that analysis of the gend
characterofclassrelationsfundamentallychangesourunderstandingof
talist and noncapitalist transitions. Arnold Bauer first challenged the
vailing view that Latin American peonage was the antithesis of capi
labor.1
Turning that interpretation on its head, he argued that in the n
teenthcenturydebtpeonagewasanincipientformoffreewagelabor.B
proposed that planters deployed debt to coax peasants out of subsist
production and into the free wage labor force of expanding export ec
mies.Inhisview,debtwasamarketmechanismandplanters’cashadva
amanifestationofthecompulsionofthemarketplace.Incontrasttoea
writerswhomaintainedthatpeonageperpetuatedatypeoffeudalism,B
argued that debt peonage played a pivotal role in the region’s great t
formation to capitalism by precipitating market relations. His theory
highly influential and became the template against which to measure p
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