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Political Discourses, Territorial Configuration and Taxation : : Conflicts in Antioquia and Cauca, Colombia (1850-1899)


This dissertation analyzes Colombia's conflictive nineteenth-century state-building process, focusing in the subnational territories of Antioquia and Cauca. It studies the interconnected processes of territorial reconfiguration and decentralization (and recentralization) of state-authority from 1850 to 1899. Throughout these decades, the conflictive relations between the central government and the political elites in the nine subnational territories, and among them, set the stage for uncompromising politics and recurrent crises, that more frequently than not led to warfare and to abrupt institutional changes. Antioquia and Cauca were key players in these processes, counterbalancing the political elites governing in Bogotá. Though at times, their conflict-ridden relationship amplified political crises. Using taxation as an indicator of the subnational governments' effective political power and institutional development, I found that Antioquia, although territorially and demographically smaller than Cauca, developed into a far more effective collector of taxes, even before the consolidation of a coffee export economy but did not do so in the case of Cauca, although in other aspects, the two regions were more similar than different. This result contributes to the understanding of the state- building processes at the regional level and to explaining the persistence of institutional differences between Colombia's subnational territories

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