Institutional and Cultural Development in Baroque Santa Fe, New Granada

35 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2020

See all articles by Maria Lopez Forero

Maria Lopez Forero

Organization of American States

Clay G. Wescott

International Public Management Network; World Bank Independent Evaluation Group

Date Written: December 10, 2012


In 17th and 18th century Bogota, Colombia (formerly called Santa Fe, New Granada), intersecting developments of social, political and cultural institutions worked together to create a colonial society. The approach was to use the relatively large indigenous population, along with imported African slaves, as the basis for extractive institutions to capture rents for the ruling elites. There also emerged a substantial population of mixed cultural heritage and racial descent, best known as mestizaje. To maintain control, Spanish colonizers maintained a strict caste system, with categories ranging from European born, to mestizaje, to indigenous and African. Colonial control was further maintained by corporate and other organizational forms, including urban centers built on a common architectural model unlike prior indigenous settlements. The Catholic Church had started on a path to reform exemplified by the 16th century Council of Trent, and played an important mediating role between state and local and mestizaje population in the Americas. Religious festivals based on the Catholic calendar were important in clarifying roles and responsibilities for all castes, guilds and corporations. In addition, anonymous composers took the musical form of the liturgical carol, originally inspired by the songs and dances of 15th century Spanish peasants, and added a mélange of indigenous, mestizaje, and African elements from the Americas. These carols played a crucial role in constructing behavioral models and values for men and women. There was a particular emphasis on constituting gender roles for women, based both on perceived differences and power relationships. The following will analyze how these institutional and cultural developments worked together to build, reinforce and legitimize an extractive governance structure in Santa Fe. It will also suggest how this structure laid the seeds for governance challenges facing modern Colombia today, and also helped to provide the basis for possible solutions.

Keywords: Cultural Studies, Colonial Studies, Latin American Baroque, Colombia, Gender, Music

Suggested Citation

Lopez Forero, Maria and Wescott, Clay G., Institutional and Cultural Development in Baroque Santa Fe, New Granada (December 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Maria Lopez Forero (Contact Author)

Organization of American States ( email )

1889 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

Clay G. Wescott

International Public Management Network ( email )

7798 Mulberry Ln
naples, FL 34114
United States


World Bank Independent Evaluation Group ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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