Working Definition:

A feature of Spanish colonialism, haciendas were estates established by settlers in rural areas who commonly exploited local labor to maintain these lands. The emergence of haciendas in the Philippines occurred through historical contingencies and complexities different from those that made the estates prevalent throughout the Americas between the 16th and 18th centuries. According to historian John A. Larkin, “the Spanish commitment to the Galleon trade, their tax system, their use of conscripted labor, and their employment of native functionaries set the pattern for rural exploitation. Native farmers and laborers were assigned to the role of support for foreign and domestic leadership, which benefitted directly or indirectly from ties to externally oriented commerce.” The history of haciendas in the Philippines underscores the multifarious class dynamics between Spanish colonists, wealthy landowners from the Philippines, and laborers. Though the term is not inherently harmful, it should be used within its proper historical contexts, which can be complex given the extent of the hacienda system, its varied use across the archipelago, and its centuries-long existence.

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Suggestions for Further Reading:

Adrian De Leon, Bundock: A Hinterland History of Filipino America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2023); John A. Larkin, “Philippine History Reconsidered: A Socioeconomic Perspective,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 87, No. 3 (June 1982): 595-628; J. H. Elliot, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).