Mexico and Central America

Authored by: Richard Weiner

Routledge Handbook of the History of Global Economic Thought

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415508490
eBook ISBN: 9781315761084
Adobe ISBN: 9781317644125


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Despite the fact that there are indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica today who contend that they are still resisting the European conquest, Mexico and Central America have had a long history of connections to the West. Indeed, Mexico’;s National University (founded 1551) is one of the Western hemisphere’;s oldest European-influenced universities. Thus, Western thought and culture have been influential in the sphere of economic ideas. But contrary to the claims of those who critiqued Mexicans and Central Americans for imitating imported economic ideas that did not fit local conditions (e.g. dependency theorists such as André Gunder Frank, who charged that Latin American elites blindly adhered to wrong-headed free market ideals during the nineteenth-century export boom), foreign ideas have not been thoughtlessly adopted. Rather, they have been reformulated and adapted to fit the local and national contexts. This refashioning is partly a consequence of the distinct histories and cultures of the region. For example, a history of revolt and concern with unrest has helped to make social liberalism prominent in Mexico. Similarly, the region’;s proximity to the United States has inspired anti-imperialist discourse. Refashioning has also been inspired by politics. Foreign concepts have been “nationalized” by incorporating national symbols to give them greater credibility.

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