Modernization Theory Revisited: Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura. 2011;38(1):243-279


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura

ISSN: 0120-2456 (Print); 2256-5647 (Online)

Publisher: Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Society/Institution: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Departamento de Historia

LCC Subject Category: History (General) and history of Europe: History (General) | History America: Latin America. Spanish America

Country of publisher: Colombia

Language of fulltext: English, Spanish; Castilian, Portuguese

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Fernando López-Alves (Universidad de California)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 43 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Theories of modernization, globalization, and dependency have assigned a clear role to Latin America: the region has been seen as dependent, exploited, and institutionally weak. In these theories, modernization and globalization are seen as forces generated elsewhere; the region, in these views, has merely tried to “adjust” and “respond” to these external influences. At best, it has imitated some of the political institutions of the core countries and, most of the times, unsuccessfully. While there is very good empirical evidence that supports these views, the essay argues that these theories need some correction. Latin America has been an innovator and a modernizer in its own right, especially in its cutting-edge design of the nation-state and in its modern conceptualization of the national community. Thus, the essay suggests that the region has not merely “adjusted” to modernization and globalization. Rather, the paper makes a case for a reinterpretation of the region’s role as a modernizer and an important contributor to the consolidation of the modern West.