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Title: Natural resources, state formation and the institutions of settler capitalism : the case of Western Canada, 1850-1914
Author: Velasco, Gustavo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 8016
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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A renewed discussion about inequality and economic divergence between countries has re-introduced the debate about the role played by natural resources, geography and the institutions of settler capitalism as promoters of growth and development in the long-term. Countries like Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, among others, expanded their frontiers of settlement, created important infrastructural transformations, received millions of immigrants and capital and became the most important producers of natural resources for exports during the first era of globalization (c. 1850-1914). Comparative studies that study these countries’ development have particularly praised the democratic distribution of land in small lots, like in the United States and Canada, which created a class of successful farmers. With the help of Geographic Information system (GIS), this dissertation revisits the political economy of Western Canada settlement by using a historical economic geography approach. Previous investigations on Western Canada settlement used decennial census records to estimate where settlers established themselves. This method is problematic as the expansion of the frontier of settlement happened on a very dynamic period where settlers moved frequently from one region to another. The use of annual postal records, instead, provides a more complete understanding of the region. As postal facilities opened where immigrants had already established themselves, the location of post offices gives a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of the frontier of settlement. This study reconstructed the historical postal and railroad networks that revealed an uneven pattern of settlement with more details. Similarly, by analyzing updated homesteads entries and cancellations data during the period, this dissertation found that farmers’ failures were more frequent than the classical literature assumed, particularly after the 1890s, a period scholars regarded as one of more stable settlement. The production of space and the formation of the institutions in Western Canada from the 1850s to 1914 shows the dynamic of capitalist expansion and natural resources exploitation in a new territory. The location of post offices helps to understand in a granular form the uneven development of regions and the emergence of small communities that later became nodes of an important railroad network.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HC Economic History and Conditions