Chambers, Sarah C. Families in War and Peace: Chile from Colony to Nation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.
In this in-depth analysis of the relationship between families and politics in colonial Chile, Sarah C. Chambers argues that family reintegration was one of the keys to forming a stable government and society in the shift from colonial to independent Chile. Further, Chambers asserts, this book will "trace the influence of family politics both at and beyond the elite level to demonstrate how the state in Chile garnered legitimacy by enacting policies aimed at providing for families across the society" (13). The author weaves her argument seamlessly through the narrative of the Carrera family and their involvement in the Chilean wars for independence and subsequent state-building during the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth centuries. While Carrera family members make appearances, and meet various fates, the one constant throughout the book is Javiera Carrera, the matriarch of the family. Javiera serves as the lynchpin of this history.
Chambers breaks this narrative down into two parts, which correspond chronologically to the periods before and after the independence movement. The chapters are separated into relevant themes. Chapter 1 corresponds to how men and women utilized their extensive familial connections to pursue political endeavors. Chambers uses primary source material to support her assertions in this chapter by way of the large amount of correspondence from the Carrera family that regarded such matters. Chapter 2 corresponds to the restoration of Spanish rule in Chile from 1814 to 1823. A major focus in this chapter is the impact of this restoration upon families that fled from Chile and Spanish rule, as well as those that remained. In addition to this, Chambers investigates how families were torn apart by the political affiliations of family members, espionage charges due to maintained contact with those who had escaped Chile over the Andes, and retribution against the royalists by patriot forces. Chapter 3 is centered on the seizure of property. Both royalists and independence supporters alike sought to confiscate property from suspected aides of enemy forces (sequestration). The chapter also analyzes how sequestration affected the families who fell victim to this practice, and state responses to their petitions for clemency, thus serving as a transition to the second part of the monograph.