By Nicholas Cushner
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Additional info for Jesuit Ranches and the Agrarian Development of Colonial Argentina, 1650-1767
Although the city governments, with authority from the central government, approved the size of government-granted plots (mercedes mentioned in Chapter 1), no government authority actually determined before settlement how the land would be divided, nor did it decide on the layout of the roads. In other words, there was no settlement plan. The result was a dispersion of not-too-widely scattered farmsteads in which units arranged themselves according to natural or man-made features.
A second theme is the frequent use of European religious models for comparison rather than other Latin American or Mexican prototypes. This bias is deliberate primarily because both Mexican and South American religious communities used European monasteries as archetypes. This does not mean that regional variations did not emerge, determined by diverse physical and ministerial circumstances. As Herman Konrad has so clearly shown in his splendid work on Santa Lucía hacienda, the Jesuits in Mexico did not hesitate to adjust their rural economic activity to local circumstances, even though it meant abandoning traditional European practices.
The largest Jesuit constructions in colonial Argentina were of those enterprises belonging to the College of Córdoba, Jesús María and Altagracia, and to the Jesuit province as a corporation, Santa Catalina. All of these figure prominently in this book. This does not mean that the Jesuits were the sole owners of large farms and ranches in Córdoba. Spanish colonization of the region far antedated the arrival of the Society. Land was distributed, the soil plowed, and cattle raised long before the first Jesuit set foot in Tucumán.