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The Makings of Marginality: Land Use Intensification and the Diffusion of Rural Poverty in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Uruguay


This thesis examines the historical-geographical processes that led to the marginalization of a rural underclass in Uruguay and to the formation of rural informal settlements, or rancher�os. In doing so, it brings forth three main ideas. The first is that of the pastoral city-state as a metaphor for the excessive centrality of Montevideo in a territory dominated by extensive livestock raising. The second and third look at the makings of rural marginality and the gradual transformation of Uruguay’s rural proletariat from semi-nomadic gauchos to sedentary peons as the result of the closing of two frontiers; a spatial frontier in the colonial period, and a technological frontier in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In both cases, the intensification of land use resulted in the consolidation of Montevideo’s primacy.

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