Economic Woes: Debt and the Ethics of Capitalism in Modern Mexico


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships , Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the American Antiquarian Society during academic year 2019-2020


This project analyzes conflicts over economic justice in Mexico from the eighteenth century to the present. It examines how middle-class people navigated the changing legal rules and moral norms for borrowing and lending money in colonial courts, in the chambers of nineteenth-century judges, and in today’s Credit Bureau. It reveals that the everyday practices of ordinary people—rather than top-down policy—drove most economic change and shaped the emergence of capitalism. The long-term approach connects the late colony with the recent past to unearth the continuities, changes, and recurrences in the history of capitalism and economic life.