Justice in Hispanic America: The Case of the Social Uses of Judicial Competence in Chile, 1825-1875


Author: Brangier, Víctor Mauricio
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 19, Number 1 / March 2020

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30884/seh/2020.01.06

In the context of the intense litigiousness of the colonial period and the nineteenth century in Hispanic-America, this article problematizes social evaluations of and attitudes towards republican judicial design. It presents original research on the case of a rural area in South-Central Chile, during the reorganization of the competences of local judges. We have examined 85 trials for interpersonal conflicts between middle and lower-middle class residents; this data was analyzed for the social uses of competences in the new judicial organization. Drawing on the theoretical approach of ‘jurisdictional power,’ this study demonstrates the social evolution of a know-how within the judiciary to adapt to its new organizational design, the increasing recourse to professional judges, and the permissiveness of judges towards social transgressions of judicial competence. The article concludes that the validity and tensions within social evaluations of accessibility to justice are part of an inheritance of a long regional political culture.

Víctor Mauricio Brangier Peñailillo, Bernardo O'Higgins University more