Spanish 280: Christianity and Capitalism

Instructor: Professor Ivonne del Valle

According to Max Weber the spirit of Protestantism made possible the emergence of capitalism proper. In his recounting, Spain’s imperial/colonial experience could be bracketed as a previous and/or different moment, what Marx termed primitive accumulation. Without negating that the 16th and 17th centuries in the Americas (one of the central vantage points of the course) could be rightfully considered in such a way, we will study how religion and economy intermingled, clashed, and related to each other in an enterprise in which they were the central, directing forces (evangelization/exploitation of people and resources).

Focusing on Spain’s Catholic version of the economy we will investigate violence and its justification, religious metaphors and ideology, as well as the processes of rationalization and discipline, ordering that accompanied the expansion of Christianity, in order to understand the particular forms the economy took under early modern/colonial Catholicism and the cultural, social forms that accompanied it.

  • Elective Requirement: This course fulfills the Intellectual History or elective requirement for the DE in REMS.