LAC Main Seminar Series: War and the Extraction-Coercion Cycle in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

Convener: Francesca Lessa (ODID/LAC)

Speaker: Luis Schenoni (UCL)

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Comparative historians have long argued that reliance on custom duties and foreign credit in world peripheries severed the link between war and state formation in Latin America. This article systematically investigates the immediate economic and political consequences of international warfare at the height of state formation in nineteenth-century Latin America. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I find that these states could seldom rely on foreign tariffs and loans to finance even limited war. Conversely, inter-state conflict is associated to domestic taxation and intra-state conflict, suggesting it triggered a state-making mechanism often referred to as the extraction-coercion cycle. After exploring the effects of inter-state militarized disputes in a panel of eighteen Latin American countries from independence to 1913, I look at causal mechanisms within wars, revealing how specific constraints such as naval blockades and sovereign defaults forced states to impose heavy burdens on society, even in the context of light or limited warfare.


Luis Schenoni is Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science, University College London. He is also an Affiliated Professor at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (Mexico), and Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina). ​ Luis works on state building and international conflict, with a focus on Latin America. His research has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, and Democratization, among other journals. ​He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Konstanz.