Madre y Matríz: The Politics of Town-Making in Cordoba, 1887-1905

Madre y Matríz: The Politics of Town-Making in Cordoba, 1887-1905

Volume 44 Issue 1

Author(s): Patricia A. Schechter

Recommended Citation:

Schechter, Patricia A. (2019) “Madre y Matríz: The Politics of Town-Making in Cordoba, 1887-1905,” Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies: Vol. 44 : Iss. 1 , Article 6.



Spain can be difficult to place in contemporary discourses about the economic global north or global south. This ambiguity has a pointed history in moves by European actors on the Iberian Peninsula. In the late nineteenth century, the House of Rothschild expanded their investment portfolio via the mining and rail industries of Andalucia. This paper sifts the results of these activities that produced the rural industrial and mining village Pueblonuevo del Terrible in northern Cordoba province. Drawing on the scholarship on transnational company towns and place making, the essay explores the actions of local miners and shopkeepers that created this municipality. Documents reveal a protracted struggle over numerous issues: the power to draw political boundaries, the Catholic character of Spanish life, the place of migrants in the community, and the status of land-ownership. The parties to these disputes relied on a gendered language of family, especially the notion of a matríz, a founding, original settlement, in order to ground their sense of place and belonging. Over time, however, the language of family broke down and hobbled the political process in Cordoba. The foreign mining company largely disappeared itself from the debate and, finally, in 1905, the administration in Madrid ruled in favor of creating the new town. The essay suggests that the achievement of town status marked a crisis of politics and political meaning as much as it did a successful effort at place making by everyday Spaniards at the peak of international industrial capitalism.

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