Workshop of Revolution: Plebeian Buenos Aires and the Atlantic World, 1776–1810

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Duke University Press, May 5, 2011 - 410 pages
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The plebeians of Buenos Aires were crucial to the success of the revolutionary junta of May 1810, widely considered the start of the Argentine war of independence. Workshop of Revolution is a historical account of the economic and political forces that propelled the artisans, free laborers, and slaves of Buenos Aires into the struggle for independence. Drawing on extensive archival research in Argentina and Spain, Lyman L. Johnson portrays the daily lives of Buenos Aires plebeians in unprecedented detail. In so doing, he demonstrates that the world of Spanish colonial plebeians can be recovered in reliable and illuminating ways. Johnson analyzes the demographic and social contexts of plebeian political formation and action, considering race, ethnicity, and urban population growth, as well as the realms of work and leisure. During the two decades prior to 1810, Buenos Aires came to be thoroughly integrated into Atlantic commerce. Increased flows of immigrants from Spain and slaves from Africa and Brazil led to a decline in real wages and the collapse of traditional guilds. Laborers and artisans joined militias that defended the city against British invasions in 1806 and 1807, and they defeated a Spanish loyalist coup attempt in 1809. A gravely weakened Spanish colonial administration and a militarized urban population led inexorably to the events of 1810 and a political transformation of unforeseen scale and consequence.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
Late Colonial Buenos Aires
17
Masculinity Sociability Skill and Honor
51
The Shoemakers and Silversmiths of Buenos Aires
85
The Guilds of Silversmiths and Shoemakers Fail
117
Chapter Five The French Conspiracy of 1795
149
Needing Wanting Having and Saving
179
Chapter Seven WorkingClass Wages Earnings and the Organization of Urban Work
215
The Plebe Transformed
249
Epilogue
283
Notes
297
Bibliography
367
Index
391
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About the author (2011)

Lyman L. Johnson is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is a co-author of Colonial Latin America, the editor of Death, Dismemberment, and Memory: Body Politics in Latin America, and a co-editor of Aftershocks: Earthquakes and Popular Politics in Latin America and The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America.

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