Ancient Constitution or Paternal Government? Extraordinary Powers as Legal Response to Political Violence (Río De La Plata, 1810-1860)
Otto Danwerth, Karl Härter, Angela De Benedictis (eds.) Violent political conflicts and legal responses: a transatlantic perspective (18th to early 19th century),Global Perspectives on Legal History, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2016 Last revised: 15 Feb 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2016
The regime of caudillos is a common subject in the classic analysis of the first half of the 19th century in Latin America. In the case of Río de la Plata, the experience of caudillos has been subject of academic revision. Scholars have discussed about the cultural background of this phenomena, contrasting their outcomes with the typical picture of a “lawless realm”. Within this debate, they have proposed new interpretations on the classic topic of the extraordinary powers granted to governors during this period. Considering the extraordinary powers as a sort of legal response to political violence, this paper deals with the historiographical characterizations of such powers, trying to outline a different framework of interpretation. At first, in order to define the “political violence”, we consider the possible normative meanings of the notion of political crime and its relationship with the diverse cultural backgrounds, pointing out some relevant features of our context of study. In the second place, we analyze the historiographical approaches on caudillo's regimes and on their extraordinary powers. Rejecting the theses according to which these “extraordinary powers” took part of a presumed “ancient constitution”, we suggest that they were rooted both, in a paternal conception of the sovereign, and in the role assigned to the adjectives ordinary / extraordinary in the traditional legal language.
Keywords: Extraordinary powers, Ancient Constitution, Political Crime, Caudillos government, Rio de la Plata, 19th century
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