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Scientific Republics – Knowledge, engineering, society and state building in Latin America 1790–1870 – Coord. Annick Lempérière
Andrés Estefane

Bureaucracy and State Knowledge: On the Production of Statistics in Chile (1750s-1870s)

Burocracia y saberes de Estado: la producción de estadísticas en Chile (1750-1870)
[08/10/2019]

Résumés

This article studies the formation of the Chilean statistical service in a period that ranges from the last decades of colonial rule to the 1870’s. The purpose of this chronology is to place the first republican scientific efforts in a broad time horizon, linking them with the proto-statistical researches ordered by the Spanish Crown during the second half of the eighteenth century. I argue that the colonial experience was crucial, but not determinant for the production of statistics in the early republican period. This line of continuity rested primarily on those intellectuals and bureaucrats who did research for the Empire and later performed similar tasks in the nascent republic. Such scientific heritage, however, started to change in parallel to the consolidation of the Chilean State, which brought about the development of a more robust and better anchored bureaucracy, the emergence of a specialized institution in charge of producing statistics, the increasingly national focus of the State research programs, and the inclusion of the local statistical production in global networks of knowledge exchange. By tracing the connections between scientific knowledge and State bureaucracy at provincial level, this article seeks to show the role statistics played in the forging of the Chilean State.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1This article studies the production of statistical knowledge in Chile from the 1750s to the 1870s, tracing the connections between the administrative reports produced in the last decades of colonial rule and the first research programs of the republican period. Despite the political changes the continent experienced in the transition from colony to republic, the history of the production of statistics shows significant continuities between the scientific concerns of the Enlightenment and the search for useful knowledge on the part of the States that emerged after the dissolution of the Spanish Empire. The similarities in terms of bureaucratic routines and patterns of information gathering, as well as the predominance of a qualitative approach to statistics are some of the factors that explain a familiarity that endured at least until the first half of the nineteenth century. It was such continuity, I argue, which allowed statistics to play a crucial role in the forging of the Chilean republic, since statistics provided knowledge and ways of knowing when knowledge was scarce and the State bureaucracy was still incipient. That scientific heritage, however, started to change in parallel to the consolidation of the Chilean State, which meant the development of a more robust and territorially anchored bureaucracy, the emergence of a specialized institution in charge of producing statistics, the increasingly national focus of the State research programs, and the inclusion of the local statistical production in global networks of knowledge exchange.

  • 1 Good examples of works focused on the transitional years, devoted to the Peruvian, Mexican, and Bra (...)
  • 2 The list of “major works” is wide and any selection will be unjust, but for this approach are parti (...)
  • 3 The frictions between the universal aspirations of a global science deployed in an era of national (...)

2This article builds upon a robust body of literature whose main focus is the formation of national statistical systems, which in Latin America is strongly attached to the history of the republican State and the development of national imaginaries. Even though there was significant statistical research before the collapse of the Spanish Empire, such experience tends to occupy a marginal place in the history of statistics when statistics is understood merely as a republican device, and ends up depicted as simple background in fairy tales that always reach their highest spots decades after Independence. However, as other authors have showed, there are good reasons to explore the transitional period, and these reasons go beyond the simple fact of noticing overlooked links or confirming historical dissociations.1 The second argument of the article, which highlights the particularities in the trajectory of the Chilean statistical system, examines the same kind of problems studied in the major works on the history of Latin American statistics throughout the nineteenth century. In this sense, the Chilean case does not seem radically different from the processes seen elsewhere, albeit its chronology and the factors that enabled the acclimatization of statistics offer insights into the importance of not assuming predictable and uniform paths.2 Likewise, the study of how the global and the local intersect in the formation of a national statistical system, a theme derived from the second argument, illustrates once again the impact of local institutional arrangements on the production of scientific knowledge, stressing thus the necessity of not loosing sight of the national variability within a field that was far from being homogeneous.3

3The first section of this article studies some “proto-statistical” surveys ordered by the Spanish Crown during the second half of the eighteenth century with the aim of tracking the links between the colonial way of knowing and the emergence of the Chilean statistical system. The second section, focused on the 1840’s, aims to explain to what extent the production of official statistics prompted fundamental changes in the physiognomy and functioning of the Chilean State, pushing for the development of an ubiquitous and specialized bureaucracy able to collect information more efficiently, which in turn defined new patterns of relationships among the State, the territory, and its population. Those changes were key during the 1860s and the 1870s, when the local statistical production became part of international networks of knowledge exchange. That process meant the adoption of scientific criteria that would foster new changes in the bureaucracy involved in the production of statistics.

From the Colonial Way of Knowing to the First Republican Statistical Research Projects

  • 4 For some examples of this type of interpretation, Mizón, Luis, Claudio Gay y la formación de la ide (...)

4Chilean historiography has assumed a divorce between the organization of the national statistical system and the researches carried out during the colonial period and right after Independence. According to the local narrative on the development of this science, colonial and early-republican investigation were not more than imperfect or preliminary versions of a practice that would reach its modern shape much later, at least from 1843 on, when the first specialized statistical agency was founded.4

  • 5 In this contrast I follow Ventresca, Marc, “When States Count: Institutional and Political Dynamics (...)

5The relationship I propose here in no case suggests a coherent continuity between colonial and republican ways of knowing. At first glance, there seem to be more differences than similarities. Colonial researches responded to occasional initiatives and did not succeed in consolidating routine practices; they were not undertaken by specialized bureaucracies nor were differentiated from the daily tasks of government. The knowledge produced did not have a public orientation, nor was it intended for open discussion; on the contrary, data was usually administered under restricted circulation or secrecy.5 All these features contrast with the republican modality of counting, usually commissioned to specialized bureaus, aimed at fixing stable protocols of information gathering, and committed to produce public data. However, there are some links that allow seeing colonial inquiries as direct forerunners of what the Chilean State tried to organize later under a formal institution.

  • 6 De Solano, Francisco (ed.), Cuestionarios para la formación de relaciones geográficas de Indias, si (...)

6Let us start by the questionnaires sent by the Spanish Crown for the formation of topographic descriptions. Most of them were prepared by the Council of the Indies (Consejo de Indias) with the aims of knowing the territory, identifying its resources, and determine the state of the empire’s subjects. Colonial authorities were responsible for distributing surveys, processing information, and writing the synthesis reports. The circulation of these interrogations, that in some cases had 400 questions, date from the Conquest period. It is estimated that over thirty questionnaires crossed the Atlantic during the three centuries of colonial rule (eight during the 18th century), and although there were inquiries designed for specific territories, most of them had a continental reach and depended on relatively uniform processes of data accumulation. Viewed together, these consultations emerge as extraordinary administrative efforts that mobilized and bonded almost all the bureaucratic strata of the Empire, from viceroys to village priests.6

  • 7 “Real Cédula al Gobernador de Chile urgiéndole, lo mismo que al Virrey del Perú y otras Audiencias, (...)
  • 8 For more details of his biography, Donoso, Ricardo, Un letrado del siglo XVIII, el doctor José Perf (...)
  • 9 The answers to Salas’ questionnaires can be seen in De Solano (ed.), Relaciones geográficas del Rei (...)

7During the eighteenth-century, these colonial interrogations were ordered by a Royal Decree issued in 1741 and reissued a decade later due to noncompliance with the first call.7 José Perfecto de Salas, then prosecutor of the Royal Audience (Real Audiencia) in Chile, was in charge of executing the measure.8 The details of his commission show him as a bureaucrat of particular sensitivity. As the demand for information from Spain had been limited to identify general problems, with rather vague formulas, Salas opted to reduce such vagueness posing different, more precise questions. Interestingly, his intervention did not result in a unique questionnaire to be applied throughout the territory, but in the preparation of at least six different forms defined according to administrative and bureaucratic position (civilian, military, ecclesiastical) of the interviewees. With this change, Salas intended to accumulate inputs of different origin to obtain descriptions attuned to the peculiarities of the colonial space, ensuring the precision of the information as well. That is why the surveys included questions that enabled crosscheck the data registered by each official.9

  • 10 Regarding the Valdivia census, Guarda, Gabriel, “La visita del Fiscal Dr. José Perfecto de Salas al (...)
  • 11 Silva Vargas, Fernando, “La visita de Areche en Chile y la subdelegación del regente Álvarez de Ace (...)

8This topographic description coordinated by Salas was one of the most sophisticated experiences of statistical knowledge production in eighteenth-century Chile. But it was not the only one. Salas himself had raised a detailed population census of the Valdivia region in 1749 as part of an inspection visit. The following year, as a corollary of that trip, he wrote the Informe sobre el Reyno de Chile, sus Poblaciones, Fuertes y Missiones (Report on the Kingdom of Chile, its Villages, Forts and Missions), focused on the local administrative units located between Santiago and Chiloé and proposing a series of political reforms.10 In 1778 there was a new survey, this time conceived as part of the administrative visit of José Antonio de Areche to the Viceroyalty of Peru. Tomás Álvarez de Acevedo, then regent of the Royal Audience, represented him in Chile. Along with on-site inspections, Álvarez also circulated a questionnaire among civil authorities and wrote the Noticias Generales del Reino (General Notes of the Kingdom), in seventeen books.11

  • 12 On the census of Jáuregui and its place among the different forms of registering population in the (...)
  • 13 These censuses are part of what is called the local “proto-statistical” tradition, which also inclu (...)

9There were also efforts to count the population in the last quarter of the eighteenth-century. The first general census was conducted between 1777 and 1778, during the government of Agustín de Jáuregui.12 Although the task was entrusted to the colonial corregidores, they delegated this task to different local figures that toured the territory and enumerated its inhabitants. In 1784 another count was conducted, but restricted to the Chiloé Island and its surroundings. Three years later, in 1787, a partial population census of the Bishopric of Santiago was carried out. In 1791 and 1793 Governor Ambrosio O’Higgins ordered new censuses for the bishoprics of Santiago and Concepción, both directed by ecclesiastical authorities and conducted on the basis of parish books. Finally, in 1796 O’Higgins organized a partial recount of the southern mapuche population, representing the first serious attempt of enumeration in Arauco. The count was applied with the assistance of the lengua general (official interpreter) and the capitanes de amigos (colonial middlemen), and classified the inhabitants according to their own socio-territorial categories.13

  • 14 Hernández, Roberto, “Chile conquista su identidad con el progreso. La enseñanza de las matemáticas, (...)
  • 15 Araya, Alejandra, “La Matrícula de Alday (1777-1778): imaginarios sociales y políticos en el siglo (...)

10What is interesting of this imperial program was the role intermediate and low-level officials played as compilers, reviewers and even ghost narrators of the local reports remitted to viceroyal and peninsular authorities. It is in these strata of the bureaucratic chain where one can find significant links between late colonial investigations and the organization of a national statistical system in Chile. Of course, the choreography of agents that collected knowledge for both colonial and republican authorities goes beyond the civilian members of the colonial administration. Military engineers, for example, were one of the most advantaged groups in the use of mathematics, a knowledge that had less prestige than disciplines like philosophy, law and theology at the time.14 Ecclesiastical bureaucrats were of similar relevance, enhancing the mathematization of religious records as a way to rationalize the administration of souls and sacraments since the second half of the eighteenth century.15

  • 16 Egaña, Juan, Informe presentado al Real Tribunal de Minas, Santiago, Gastón Fernández Montero Edito (...)

11Among civilians, Juan Egaña is who best represents the connection between colony and republic. As one of the most influential intellectuals of the second half of the eighteenth-century in South America, it was no surprising that his signature appears associated with the major policy proposals and economic and educational projects that circulated right after the Chilean Independence. Egaña’s formal relation with statistics started with a celebrated report he drafted in 1803 as Secretary of the Royal Mining Tribunal (Real Tribunal de Minería). Albeit this work only aimed to offer a cadaster of the mineral deposits existing in the country, it included an enlightening geographical, natural and political description of the territory and its administrative units. The familiarity in terms of tone and format with the abovementioned imperial topographic descriptions is one of the most interesting features of this work, confirming the prevalence of a hegemonic modality of research and classification of data.16

  • 17 These debates ended up forcing a military coup that took over the government and shut down Congress (...)
  • 18 For details of the 1813 census preparations, Archivo Nacional, Censo de 1813. Levantado por Juan Eg (...)

12It is common to state that such experience explains why Juan Egaña was commissioned by the republican authorities to prepare and conduct the population census of 1813, the first one carried out after Independence. According to the testimonies of the time, no one was better prepared to fulfill that task. The idea of taking a census was first discussed in 1811, when the definition of the number of representatives for the first Congress showed the urgency of counting the population.17 However, the political agitation of the time prevented the project from being concretized. The idea was resumed in mid-1813, despite the political context was less favorable than the existing two years earlier. Besides the growing frictions between the elites of Santiago and the provinces, there was a counter-revolutionary campaign led by Viceroy José Fernando de Abascal from Lima to put an end to the autonomous government. Amid such uncertainty, the authorities assumed a new working plan that rested on the nascent civil bureaucracy and citizens’ support. The Juntas Cívicas or Civic Boards [local government institutions] were responsible for coordinating the census sending commissioners to the four cardinal points of each jurisdiction. When the territory, due to its extension or orography, exceeded the capabilities of the original commission, the Boards could summon volunteers to cover smaller geographic units. Immediately after the end of the counting, a Board member had to collect and send the maps, forms, and all the relevant paperwork to the authorities in Santiago, who then would process and summarize the provincial reports.18

  • 19 Nevertheless, at the moment of combining the results, a local census taken in 1812 by the Episcopal (...)

13The 1813 census was neither taken in Santiago and its neighboring districts nor in the Bishopric of Concepción, by then under the domain of the Royal troops advancing towards the capital city.19 As a partial census, this experience illustrated several of the administrative challenge this nascent State power would face over time. So it was in this context and with that type of challenges in mind – precariousness of provincial bureaucracies, lack of familiarity with data-gathering and data-processing protocols, distrust of the population regarding census activities – that the first programs oriented to the establishment of a permanent statistical institution began to take shape.

  • 20 The references to the larger report may be found in “Memorias de los servicios públicos del Dr. Don (...)

14The tracks of that history, yet again, converge in Juan Egaña. Although what today is known of the 1813 census is basically the enumeration of the inhabitants of the country, there are clues that allow seeing it as a more ambitious investigation. Egaña himself referred to the census as a chapter of a larger report on “the state of the kingdom [reino] in all its branches”. Although it is impossible to prove it, since the report remains lost along with the documents that disappeared after the victory of Viceroy Abascal, the trace is worth paying attention as dovetails with other initiatives sponsored by Egaña, which account for his understanding of statistics as something larger or more complex than mere demographic counts.20

  • 21 Proyecto de Constitución para el Estado de Chile (1811) publicado en 1813 por orden de la Junta de (...)
  • 22 Constitución Política del Estado de Chile de 1823, Título XVII: Dirección de Economía Nacional, Nat (...)

15In his Proyecto de Constitución para el Estado de Chile (Proposed Constitution for the State of Chile) of 1811, Egaña sketched the creation of a Consejo de Economía Pública (Council of Public Economy). Along with being in charge of fostering the “industrial, rural, and commercial” development of the republic, this institution should conduct “political arithmetic research” and apply its results “to policía and governmental goals”. Of the six directors of the Consejo, two had to act as “travelers” over the national territory verifying inspection visits, collecting news on the state of the industries, and proposing improvement measures; two would travel abroad to promote commercial contacts and identify experiences of economic advancement to be replicated in the country; the other two would assume the daily routines of the institution.21 This interest in establishing a regular office in charge of “political arithmetic” research was reaffirmed a decade later in the Constitution of 1823, also drafted by Egaña. Although in this second text the Consejo de Economía Pública was called Dirección de Economía Nacional (Directorate of National Economy) and “political arithmetic” was replaced by “statistics”, the number of directors was the same and the tasks assigned to each member were almost identical.22 Although the 1811 project did not enter into effect and the 1823 Constitution did it briefly, it is revealing that in both texts statistics appears as a central concern to the republic, with specialized institutions devoted to its development.

16A common feature in these early attempts to institutionalize the production of statistical knowledge was the reproduction of a centralist vision of the administration of State data. Indeed, both the Consejo de Economía Pública and the Dirección de Economía Nacional were agencies located in Santiago that operated according to the monocentric logic of knowledge administration of the late colonial period. The tasks of the “traveling directors” were nothing more than an updated version of the old “territorial visits”, and although there were no clear guidelines regarding the procedures through which these officials were to gather news, it can be deduced that the format of colonial questionnaires remained the model for this research program.

  • 23 Proyecto de reglamento provisorio de las atribuciones de las Asambleas, S.C.L., vol. XIV, January 1 (...)
  • 24 Constitución Política de la República de Chile promulgada en 8 de agosto de 1828, Art. 114, n° 13. (...)

17However, such centralist orientation experienced a twist towards the second half of the 1820s, when the advancement of Liberalism – which led the country to embrace a federal political project – ceded to the provinces the production of statistics. In effect, in December 1826 it was proposed that Provincial Assemblies were in charge of conducting censuses and local statistical inquiries in accordance with the instructions given by the Congress.23 The accumulation of data at a local level was thus considered part of the attributions that would consolidate the relative autonomy of the provinces, a thesis retrieved in the liberal Constitution of 1828.24

  • 25 Sagredo, Rafael, “De la historia natural a la historia nacional. La Historia Física y Política de C (...)

18In light of these precedents it is necessary to go over the prevailing narrative on the beginnings of statistics in Chile, a narrative where the central figure is neither Salas, Egaña nor those who participated in the colonial inquiries, but the French polymath Claudio Gay, who emerges as ideologue of the first Chilean statistical agency. Gay arrived in Chile in 1828 from Paris to work as science teacher. Just after the Conservative triumph in the 1829-30 Civil War, he was hired by the government to carry out a scientific expedition throughout the national territory and produce the first scientific portrait of the country.25 Although the Liberal governments of the 1820s had pursued similar objectives, hiring Juan José Dauxion Lavaysse, José Alberto Bacler D’Albe and Ambrosio Lozier, none of them managed to finish their commissions. Now, with Gay, the Conservatives aimed to fulfill that need, replicating in the field of knowledge their triumph in the battlefield.

  • 26 Gay, Claudio, Correspondencia de Claudio Gay. Recopilación, prólogo y notas de Guillermo Feliú Cruz (...)

19The Conservative revolution was consolidated in the Constitution of 1833, which marked a transition to an authoritarian and centralist order based in Santiago. This meant a serious challenge to villages and provincial elites, who from then on began to lose the power they had accumulated in the previous decade. One of the main reforms brought about by the Constitution was the elimination of the Provincial Assemblies, which directly affected the statistical model proposed in the 1820s. In this sense, Gay’s statistical plan came just to reinforce the centralist leaning of the Conservative revolution, helping to eradicate any provincial aspiration to produce and administer knowledge.26 The triumphant administration would thus inaugurate a new era in the local history of statistics, making visible the impact of the State’s institutional design on the production of scientific knowledge. Since the 1830’s onwards, the idea of a decentralized statistical system fell into relative oblivion.

The Organization of the Statistics Office: Implementation, Limits and Reforms

  • 27 For a review of this discussion, Estefane, Andrés, “La institucionalización del sistema estadístico (...)

20The Oficina de Estadística (Statistics Office) was provisionally established in 1843, and formally founded in 1847. Although there was consensus on the importance of statistics for the definition of a modern relationship with the population and the territory, several problems delayed the institutionalization of the discipline. Budgetary constraints and disagreements among the authorities regarding the scope of the investigations the new office should conduct were some of the first setbacks.27

21After the Office’s formal foundation, a new series of obstacles emerged. The most pressing one was the definition of the linkages between the Statistics Office and an administrative structure that showed several deficiencies in terms of provincial anchoring. This was the result of a mixture of indifference and ignorance regarding statistics on the part of local functionaries, aggravated by the precariousness of the emerging national bureaucracy; another set of problems came from the people and their distrust with this type of inquiries, which in their imaginary were linked to taxation and military conscription. The pressure to produce official statistics ended up exposing the limits of the Chilean State to consolidate its control over the territory and its officials. Even though the two former director of the Statistics Office – Fernando Urízar (1843-1847) and José Miguel de la Barra (1847-1851) – focused their energies on overcoming these obstacles, they still seemed insurmountable towards the beginning of the 1850s.

  • 28 Fernando Urízar developed the first research program of the Statistics Office in 1843. It consisted (...)
  • 29 “Memoria que el Ministro de Estado en el Departamento de Interior presenta al Congreso Nacional, añ (...)

22In effect, the track records of both administrations were not positive at all. Although the formal organization of the Office in 1847 meant a significant improvement, the institution experienced several difficulties to takeoff. As in the beginning, the main pitfall was the weak articulation between the functionaries based in Santiago and the provincial bureaucracies. Therefore, the research program the Office embraced could not be covered in the short term, and the legal obligation to produce periodical statistical reports had ended up reduced to printing isolated volumes that were far from any consistent editorial policy.28 Considering this diagnosis, in March 1851 the government decided to intervene the institution, rationalizing its objectives and reorganizing its composition.29

  • 30 National Archives of Chile (hereafter NA), Ministry of Interior (hereafter MINT), vol. 122, f. 180 (...)
  • 31 El Araucano, Santiago, October 13, 1855.

23Manuel Talavera, who up to that moment had acted as archivist clerk, became interim Director.30 In line with President Manuel Montt’s centralization policies (1851-1861), Talavera implemented a series of reforms to overcome the morass in which the Office seemed to be stuck. The most relevant was his attempt at transforming the statistical inquiries into mandatory responsibilities for local government units. In October 1855 he created the position of provincial statistics official, in charge of overseeing data gathering procedures. The immediate objective was to deploy a permanent network of agents responsible for strengthening the links between the different layers of the administrative chain, all this in order to reduce the error rates in the performance of lower officials. At the same time, they had to enforce the adoption of homogeneous criteria for the collection of data.31

  • 32 NA, MINT, vol. 371, f. 18-24; also El Araucano, Santiago, February 19, 1856.

24As the effectiveness of this intervention depended on how well the new staff knew the features of their administrative units, four months later the Ministry of Interior sent a circular letter to the intendancies asking the new officials to recognize their territories. Each agent would manage one or more logbooks to register useful information. One of the goals the authority sought was that these reports allow determining the internal frontiers of the administrative map, a task whose postponement was affecting the exercise of power and could have a detrimental impact on statistical research. The determination of the civil administrative division could not be detached from the ecclesiastical division, especially from parishes, the basic territorial unit for the collection of demographic information. Hoping to count on the support of parish priests and other ecclesiastical dignities, statistics officials were asked to pay particular attention to the overlaps between religious frontiers and the limits of provinces and departments (these precisions were crucial because several parishes included territories corresponding to two or more departments, if not to different provinces). In the end, that information was the only reference that would later enable to explain and correct both the gaps and numerical duplications in the demographic balance sheets.32

  • 33 NA, MINT, vol. 122, f. 371-372.

25Even though these measures seemed to cover the main obstacles detected, soon another limitation emerged: provincial statistics agents were not authorized to leave the head cities in which they resided. Apparently, the law tended to overestimate the ties of bureaucratic subordination and the response capacity of the State’s functionaries, or at least did not foresee the difficulties of reaching the information sources nor the geographic challenges associated with the data gathering procedures. Several agents presented complaints and submitted travel requests to the Ministry of Interior to visit their sub-delegations and districts, usually entrusted to citizens with little instruction and alien to statistics. An illustrative example is the case of Guillermo Döll, Secretary of the Intendance of Valdivia, who requested authorization to leave the provincial capital during the summer of 1856. His demand pointed to the need to get to know the territory under his jurisdiction, due to the difficulties associated with this type of investigation and the lack of confidence on the news compiled by functionaries who either showed little interest in collecting them or lacked “the necessary capacity to do so”.33

  • 34 Regarding these epistolary exchanges, see NA, MINT, vol. 122, f. 383-389v and vol. 371, f. 114.

26Guillermo Döll’s concerns, shared by other officials, confirmed not only the limits of the recent reform, but also the gaps inside the bureaucratic apparatus. Both intendants and governors did not seem to be particularly committed with the statistics agenda, and those who did it, lacked of specific tools to put the machinery into motion. Not even sub-delegates and inspectors, essential agents in the basic units of the administrative chain, could do so. Predictably, all the limitations of the administrative scaffolding were attributed to the latter. Sub-delegates and inspectors were blamed for the lags and generalized disorder that the Statistics Office and the Ministry of Interior condemned daily. “Lack of habit”, “incompetence,” and “ignorance” were the words that appeared repeatedly in these bitter allegations, in which even other State services got entangled too. On more than one occasion the intendants of Atacama, Coquimbo, and Chiloé noted that the restrictions on the routes of the postal services hindered the interaction between authorities, making fluid communications almost impossible. What is revealing is that when the contact was periodic, the situation did not change: trusting on the regularity of communications, minor officials did not hesitate to ask for clarifications or more detailed instructions to fulfill their tasks, initiating extensive epistolary exchanges that ended up increasing the confusion and delaying the investigations.34

27Health problems distanced Talavera from the Statistics Office, preventing him to correct the wrongs of his reform. His positions was taken over by Santiago Lindsay by mid 1858. Lindsay was at the head of the office for eighteen years (1858-1876) putting into motion a new and ambitious plan oriented to overcome the obstacles his predecessors had faced. The atmosphere of relative stability and material progress imposed by the Liberal governments from the 1860s on undoubtedly reinforced the institutional impact of his measures. Lindsay’s administration faced three specific issues: the legal and bureaucratic fetters that hindered the performance of provincial agents; the lack of uniformity and consistency in the data accumulation processes, and the need to count on a scientific publication to make visible the work of the institution.

28Lindsay noted that up to that moment all the reforms had been conceived from a top-down logic, without considering the lack of training of provincial bureaucrats and the suspicions the statistical practice still generated among the population. So he proposed an ambitious pedagogic program to counter the misunderstandings between the different levels of the administrative structure, thus reinforcing the meeting points within the State and between it and the population. What Lindsay had in mind followed very closely the impressions pointed out by officials like Guillermo Döll: while statistics agents were forced by law to remain in the provincial capitals, their work would be limited to write notes and instructions that uselessly would try to reduce the error and omission rates that were spoiling the statistical research.

  • 35 In a plan for a future census written in 1858 Lindsay outlined the notion of bureaucratic mobility (...)

29Lindsay’s bet was to improve two central and mutually dependent aspects of the system of knowledge production: operational autonomy and uniformity in the procedures of data gathering and tabulation. For this, provincial agents should regularly travel deploying a formative program oriented to train the senses and unify the language of bureaucrats and even civilians that could be involved in the works of the Statistics Office. This plan sought for the government to multiply the possibility of extracting, arranging and processing social information in a uniform way; but it also sought to foster the emergence of a relatively ubiquitous and increasingly predictable bureaucracy.35

  • 36 See the tables of contents and introductions to Anuario Estadístico de la República de Chile (herea (...)

30It was in the context of these discussions that the employees of the Office began to work on the publication of an annual report to visibilize and amplify the institution’s researches. Accepting that the problems with the data collection procedures were far from being overcome in the short term, Lindsay pushed for the edition of a volume that would bring together all the documents he had managed to collect from 1858 onwards. In mid 1860, the Imprenta Nacional (National Printing House) received the materials for the first volume of the Anuario Estadístico de la República de Chile (Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Chile). This volume contained the more complete synthesis of the country’s demographic evolution between 1848 and 1858, offering a sort of prequel to the population census of 1854 (which was going to be published in 1858). In February 1861 a second volume appeared, grouping loose and intermittent data on cemeteries, hospitals, dispensaries, vaccinations, charity institutions, public instruction, and a note on the introduction of the printing press to Chile plus the list of books published in the country between 1812 and 1858. According to Lindsay’s publication program, these two first volumes were really one that synthesized all the information available about the last decades and announced the themes that would be addressed in the following deliveries.36

  • 37 AERCh. Entrega Quinta, Santiago: Imprenta Nacional, 1863, p. 423-430; AERCh correspondiente a los a (...)

31In the first five volumes of the Anuario, which covered the period 1848-1863, the index of the publication got a definite profile: demographics, charity, judicial and criminal statistics, public finance, hospitals, prisons, municipalities, and agricultural and mining production. Other themes, like postal service, internal administrative frontiers, or the list of civil servants appeared intermittently, but always respecting two editorial principles: chronological succession and data accumulation. Postal service statistics, for example, were made on the basis of the annual reports by the Dirección General de Correos (General Directorate of Posts), and appeared in three volumes: fifth (1863), which covered the activity between 1855 and 1862; thirteenth (1873) for the period 1863-1871; and twentieth (1879) concentrated on 1872-1878.37 In this matters as well as in others (public finance, judicial and criminal statistics, jails and prisons) the Statistics Office depended on the work done by other public agencies.

  • 38 AERCh. Entrega Primera, p. vi-vii.
  • 39 Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz approached this problem by suggesting that, on statistical matters, the de (...)

32Most of the time, public bureaus were forced by law to supply the data the Office had to process. That was the case of the postal, finance, and penitentiary systems. But in other matters the relationship was less predictable. For instance, the production of the Anuario was deeply marked by tensions between civil and ecclesiastical authorities over the control of demographic records. In the introduction to the first report on this subject, Lindsay pointed out that the main obstacles for the development of reliable statistics was the absence of method and the lack of rigorousness of the parish books.38 His critique, of course, was much more complex. What one can infer from the history of population censuses and statistics in Chile is that civil authorities timely understood that the only way to establish a viable statistics system was to take advantage of the territorial dispersion of the Catholic Church and of the legitimacy of the parish priest as collector of demographic information. Therefore, at least until the State had enough resources to operate autonomously (this is, without the administrative assistance of the ecclesiastic bureaucracy), the civil power had to resign itself to a dependence that was nothing else but a consequence of the advantages of the Catholic Church in terms of symbolic capital.39

  • 40 Íbid., p. 22.
  • 41 In this respect, Censo Jeneral de la República de levantado el 19 de abril de 1865, Santiago, Impre (...)

33If it is true that in the colonial period parish priests knew better their parishioners than the civil authorities knew their citizens, during the republican period the situation was not very different40. Indeed, the proclamations and texts that circulated a propos of the eight population censuses that took place in the nineteenth century clearly attest the priests’ symbolic advantage and the interest of the State to instrumentalize it. Already in 1811 the civil authorities requested the intervention of the clergy for the application of the first population census of the republic. Five or six decades later, when such dependency was relatively less critical, the State remained invoking the clergy as an essential agent for statistical tasks, mainly due to the technical assistance they could provide to the commission districts (parish priests continued appearing among the authorities that best knew the territory and its inhabitants), and due to the persuasion they could perform from the pulpit, eroding the resistance of the population.41

  • 42 NA, MINT, vol. 371, f. 113 y 124.

34However, after the appearance of the Anuario and the increasing demands for improving the quality of demographic data, the Statistics Office and the parish priests began to clash. Relying on the delimitation of competences sanctioned by the Interior Regime Act of 1844, particularly in regard to the relationship between civil and religious authorities, the ecclesiastical hierarchy tried to avoid at all costs that their representatives were absorbed by State demands. In several occasions parish priests called for the intervention of their high dignitaries after being requested by civil authorities to perform tasks that went beyond the law and for which they did not receive compensation.42 There also were problems due to the overlaps between civil and ecclesiastical territorial divisions and the tensions caused by the delays in the dispatch of demographic information from the parishes. Nonetheless, the alliance remained active and operated in favor of the State at least until the 1880s’, when the Civil Registry Act (1884) and the enactment of a new Interior Regime Act (1885), among other reforms, marked the transition to the absolute secularization of these practices.

Foreign and Domestic Politics

35The bureaucratic concerns derived from the publication of the Anuario had not only a domestic impact. The production of official statistics also played an important role in the international construction of the Chilean State. In tune with the language of nineteenth-century world’s fairs, statistics offered an appropriate framework for crafting national portraits that allowed to reduce the geographical marginality, and to counter the cultural and political disdain coming from Europe. Producing and exchanging statistics was a way of claiming a place in the nineteenth-century concert of nations. This is where the local and the global intersect. Being part of international knowledge networks also implied assimilating institutional models and scientific protocols that transformed local bureaucratic routines. Thus, publishing statistics at international level, or at one that at least allowed establishing exchange programs, meant fostering an administrative machinery able to work according to the global scientific parameters of the discipline.

  • 43 Elementos de Estadística. Escritos en francés por Alejandro Moreau de Jonnès, traducidos libremente (...)
  • 44 Matta, Manuel Antonio, “Elementos de Estadística. Obra escrita en francés por A. Moreau de Jonnès,” (...)
  • 45 For more details on the circulation of Moreau de Jonnès’ manual among intendancies, NA, MINT, vol.  (...)

36An early example of the efforts to discipline the local production of statistics according to modern standards can be found in the 1850’s, when the Chilean government ordered the acquisition of several copies of a translation of Eléments de Statistique (1847) by Alexandre Moreau de Jonnès, former director of the General Statistics Office of France. One of the first Spanish translations of this influential manual appeared in Lima in 1854, commissioned by the Peruvian government to Eugenio Sosa, a well-known professor of Political Economy. Months before the book’s launching, the Ministry of Public Instruction of Peru decreed its use for teaching the “general notions” of this science throughout the national school system.43 In Chile, Manuel Antonio Matta, the future leader of the Radical Party, proposed a similar measure in a thoroughly book review published in Revista de Santiago in 1855. Taking into account that one of the major problems Chilean bureaucrats were facing was the “lack of statistical knowledge,” and asserting that the training in the discipline did not require ambitious reforms (it seemed enough to integrate statistics as a subject into the local courses on Political Economy), Matta suggested to use Moreau de Jonnès’ manual as “doctrinal text” both for students and State employees.44 His proposal received a favorable reception within administrative circles. In April 1856 the Ministry of Interior announced the arrival of 22 copies of Sosa’s translation, which were sent to all the intendancies and main libraries of the country. Thus the government instructed the officials in charge of collecting statistical data to carefully follow the recommendations set out in the book when carrying out their duties.45

  • 46 For tracing these circuits of exchange and acquisition, NA, Ministry of Education, vol. 41, s.f., C (...)

37Later on, the publication of the first issues of the Anuario coincided with the proliferation of bibliographic exchange agreements the Chilean State signed with foreign scientific institutions. Working in parallel to international networks of academic cooperation, the diplomatic agents of the Chilean State proved effective mediating between local institutions and their major scientific counterparts in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Thanks to these agreements the local bibliographic production was integrated into numerous exchange and circulation networks that came to meet both the need for international recognition as well as the building of scientific bonds. Towards the end of the 1850s, institutions like the Royal Academy of Belgium, the Royal Academy of Sciences of Bavaria, the Hamburg Society of Naturalists, and the universities of Leuven and Vienna, to name a few, had already activated their exchange programs requesting periodic remittances of the Anales de la Universidad de Chile (Annals of the University of Chile), the Revista de Ciencias y Letras (Journal of Science and Letters), ministerial memories, the population census of 1854, astronomical observations carried out by the Chilean National Observatory and a series of other scientific works. Correspondingly, the Chilean government ordered its representatives abroad to acquire essential works that were not part of these exchanges.46

  • 47 Gagnon, Marc-André, “Les réseaux de l’ internationalisme statistique (1885-1914),” in Beaud, Jean-P (...)
  • 48 Brian, Eric, “Del buen observador al estadístico de Estado: la mundialización de las cifras,” Anuar (...)
  • 49 Randeraad, Nico, States and Statistics in the Nineteenth Century: Europe by Numbers, Manchester, Ma (...)
  • 50 Randeraad, Nico, “The International Statistical Congresses (1853-1876). Knowledge, Transfers and Th (...)

38When thinking of the role played by global actors in the development of national statistical services, particularly among non-European countries, it is common to refer to the International Congresses of Statistics held in Brussels, Paris, Vienna, London, Berlin, Florence, The Hague, St. Petersburg, and Budapest between 1853 and 1876. These congresses were not the only international meetings devoted to the discussion of the foundations of this science, but they are usually considered the point of departure of the global statistical regime, which later on will crystallize in the creation of the International Statistical Institute (1885).47 It is undeniable that the recommendations approved in these congresses allowed reaching higher levels of normalization in the production of statistics.48 However, a closer look at the internal dynamics of these events suggests to not overstating their direct and immediate impact, especially if one takes into account the frictions between the universal and homogenizing aspirations of the international statistical movement and the particularistic leanings of the countries and empires involved.49 As Nico Randeraad has stated, the absence of supranational faculties in a context of national self-assertion explains the limits of these normalizing efforts. The only exceptions were small and emergent states, which tended to adopt – with softer tensions – the resolutions passed at the international congresses.50

  • 51 NA, MINT, vol. 79, f. 89-89v; vol. 371, f. 113 and 187.
  • 52 This commission resulted in the publication of Carmona, Manuel, Apuntes estadísticos sobre la Repúb (...)
  • 53 Carmona, Manuel, Resumen de la estadística comercial de 1873 y de la estadística retrospectiva de 1 (...)
  • 54 Sève, Edouard, Le Chili tel qu’il est. Publications officielles de la Commission Belge faites avec (...)

39That is why it is also important to trace the signing of bilateral agreements as well as the publication and /or translation of official reports (to be distributed in global fairs and similar meetings) when thinking of the assimilation of international statistical protocols. In the case of Chile, towards 1862 the Statistics Office started to sign significant exchange programs with equivalent institutions in London, Washington, Paris, and Madrid, centers of intense statistical activity and backed by substantial bibliographic catalogues.51 Sometimes the demand came from abroad. Such was the case of Alfred T. Goshorn, General Director of the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, who requested the Chilean commission to prepare a statistical breviary on the state of the country, including data on population, territory, industrial development, maritime activity, and military and naval forces, to be included in the catalogue of the event. Guillermo Carmona, then head of the Commercial Statistics Office in Valparaíso, was in charge of the task.52 Carmona was appointed due to his experience as editor of a similar scientific-commercial brochure, a celebrated summary of the country’s trade statistics of the period 1844-1873 published in 1874 and which the organizing commission of the 1875 International Exhibition of Chile used as part of the promotion campaign abroad. According to the General Secretary of the commission, by the end of 1874, more than 34,000 copies of Carmona’s summary – translated into English, French, and German, along with the Spanish version – were in circulation.53 This text was the same Edouard Sève, General Consul of Belgium in Chile, included in the description of the country that his government published on the occasion of the 1875 Santiago Exhibition. Sève also maintained active correspondence with the directors of the Statistics Office and served as a bridge for exchanging data between both countries.54

40Both the signing of exchange programs and the translation of statistical reports were critical factors for the development of the Chilean Statistics Office. In the short term, they allowed satisfying the urgency for assimilating the experience of other countries and the need for amplifying the visibility of the local scientific production. But they had a second and less evident effect, and it took shape when Lindsay began to exploit the symbolic dimension of the Office’s work. The Anuario turned into the reason and also the main platform for insisting on the critique he outlined in 1858: the immobility of the provincial statistical agents was not only affecting the development of the statistical program, but also putting at risk the prestige of a publication with serious scientific pretensions that had begun to circulate internationally and in which, therefore, the reputation of the sponsoring State was at stake. That was the central argument Lindsay included in the claims he reproduced for almost a decade in the first numbers of the Anuario, suddenly turned into an arena for bureaucratic debates.

  • 55 El Araucano, Santiago, October 27, 1864. For other references concerning administrative overload of (...)

41Lindsay’s demands not only pointed out to the inertia of the Ministry of the Interior, but also to the asphyxiating bureaucratic pressures the provincial network of statistics agents were experiencing. The limitations of the administrative structure and the uncontainable expansion of the daily duties in the intendancies had pushed the system to its limit and, therefore, the division of tasks sanctioned by the law of 1855 had blurred completely. While the situation was particularly complex for sub-delegates, who besides governing duties also performed judicial functions, the district inspectors did not meet a better fate. The corollary was predictable: as low-level authorities failed in supplying information, the existence of provincial statistics officials seemed irrelevant; accordingly, intendants freed them of their original functions to assign other, more pressing tasks. The chain of command seemed broken. The government recognized this fact in a circular sent in October 1864 to insist, again, on the problems derived from the delays in the remittance of provincial reports.55

42The first signs of change appeared toward the end of 1869, when the government opened up the possibility of studying a reform of the provincial agents’ status. To this end it was decided that an official from the Office in Santiago visited each province inspecting the actual state of the statistical work and suggesting pertinent reforms. The position of first “statistics inspector” in the history of Chilean statistics fell onto official Tulio Rengifo, who toured the intendancies of the country between 1870 and 1871.

  • 56 “Informe del visitador de estadística en las provincias del sur,” AERCh correspondiente a los años (...)

43As it was expected, Rengifo’s reports offered fresh arguments for Lindsay’s claims: the lack of uniformity in the data gathering procedures, the absence of backup copies of the information previously sent, the inexistence of verification protocols for the news collected by sub-delegates and inspectors were part of the setbacks the statistical reason could not overcome. Although some officials properly fulfilled their tasks with order and rigorousness (as in the Concepción and Valparaíso provinces), for the majority (Atacama and Maule were critical cases) disorganization was the norm. Rengifo’s visit was also useful in the definition of the requirements that the eventual mobility of provincial agents would impose both on State budget and the administrative status of these functionaries. As Lindsay had planned, this inspection visit had strong pedagogical resonances, combining verbal recommendations, gathering and archival practices testing, reprimands, incentives, and attempts at fostering bureaucratic loyalties between provincial agents and the central office. Rengifo also wrote a detailed instruction manual that later became the header text to the provincial agents spread over the country.56

  • 57 AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1870 and 1871. Tomo Undécimo, p. xi-xiii.

44But there was another key pending issue: the dual administrative status of the provincial agents as representatives of a central institution (legally subordinated to the Statistics Office) and as employees of the intendancies (thus subordinated to the intendants, who imposed on them tasks unrelated to their obligations.) As the Office lacked of legal means to sanction the incompetence or inefficiency of its civil servants, and it was impossible to impose order and regularity with the aid of intendants – who did not miss opportunity to distract these agents from their statistical duties – there was not a clear exit strategy to this administrative conundrum. Lindsay claimed that the provincial statistics agents were in an “extraordinary and entirely anomalous situation” since they did “depend on and not depend on” the Statistical Office. With this critique he did not seek to identify an administrative vice, but rather demonstrate that the lack of direct control could neutralize the potential of any reform, including the demand for mobility.57 With no clear instructions on this aspect, in April, May and October 1871 the government issued the first decrees that authorized the agents in Valparaíso, Aconcagua, Ñuble, Valdivia, and Concepción to start their visits. The following year the measure was extended to the rest of the provinces.

  • 58 Estefane, Andrés, “Burócratas ambulantes. Movilidad y producción de conocimiento estadístico en Chi (...)

45Although the effects of the authorization were not homogeneous, the inclusion of the provincial statistics agents as part of the mobile vanguards of the State marked a turning point in the history of the production of the Anuario and in the Office’s capacity for territorial penetration.58 If in the short term this reform allowed the central power to optimize the procedures of gathering information and reorder the links between bureaucracy, local elites, and the population, in the medium term it fulfilled a more gravitating role. The permanent mobility not only reinvigorated the spatial and relational dimension of the processes of statistical production, but it also enabled the Statistical Office to take full control of the generation of its own scientific products.

  • 59 AERCh correspondiente a 1873 y 1874. Tomo Décimo Quinto, Santiago, Imprenta de la Librería del Mer (...)

46Towards 1872 the visits of the statistics officials to their respective jurisdictions began to show their first results. Although the rhythms of reaction to the reform were different and tended to reflect historical administrative inequalities (Valparaíso and Concepción continued appearing as the most efficient regions), that year the Office had already received reports from nearly all the provinces, and the best organized ones were even sending updated versions. By eroding the initial doubts, the Office began to strengthen its control of the different phases of knowledge production, reducing the error and omissions rates generated at the intermediate levels and improving the quality of the information obtained in the basic spaces of territorial organization. Even though the disparity in the quality of the reports was evident, the general balance was satisfactory. In the introduction to volume 15 of the Anuario (1875), Santiago Lindsay stated: “If the data and news gathered until now were not always uniform and some of these works suffered from serious deficiencies that have been impossible to correct [...], in general they obey to a common plan and contain facts and observations from which future studies can obtain undoubtedly benefits. Therefore the money spent on visits to [provincial] statistics offices has not been sterile, and in my opinion is well compensated for with the results achieved and with those hoped to be obtained later on.”59

47In fact, the comparison of the official communications of the 1860s and earlier with those issued from 1870 on (after the start of the provincial visits), shows substantial changes. While the reform, as Lindsay acknowledged, did not mean the immediate overcoming of difficulties, the statistics agents’ mobility opened up a new stage in the production of numerical knowledge. The new provincial reports allowed resuming the promise of producing the first global statistical portrait of the republic. If the institutional precariousness of the Office and its lack of articulation with provincial bureaucracies precluded back then the materialization of that project, the situation seemed different towards the early 1870s, when the bureaucratic structure showed a relatively superior territorial anchoring and a clearer diagnosis of the type of difficulties that obstructed the field work was available. Concretely, the Anuario began to publish one by one the descriptions sent by the provincial officials, accounting for a total of fourteen during 1872-1882. Although they were never compiled into a single volume and in fact did not cover the entire territory, together they constituted the closer version of the “national repertoire” imagined in 1847, when the Statistics Office was formally established.

Conclusions

48The study of the production of statistical knowledge in Chile in this long time frame illuminates several aspects of the relationship between science and the State-building process. Firstly, it shows how the scientific concerns of the Enlightenment were internalized and transformed during the period of State formation. Without dismissing the radical transformation of the political scenario in the transition from colony to republic, the history of statistics and the institution in charge of producing it suggests a strong continuity between the colonial researches and the attempts to gather useful information on the part of the States that emerged after the dissolution of the Spanish Empire.

49The more notorious links point to the form in which colonial bureaucrats put their knowledge and experience at disposal of the nascent republic. Such inheritance would explain the affinity between colonial topographic descriptions and the first republican research programs, particularly in the persistence of imperial data-gathering protocols in the institutionalization of the Chilean statistical service. This was possible because both models shared a descriptive and qualitative approach to statistics, a feature that started to change toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the acclimation of the positivist paradigm prepared the ground for a quantitative statistics, increasingly linked to social engineering and the calculation of probabilities.

50Nonetheless, the republican period brought about transformations that resignified such affinities. One of those changes had to do with the increasing nationalization of the criterion with which the utility of statistical data was measured. The assimilation of the republican project converted demographic registers into a crucial input for the territorial debates that preceded the establishment of representative institutions like the National Congress, turning population censuses, for instance, into operations of growing political tension. Likewise, the need for planning the material development of the republic made of the study of the territory and its resources an inescapable step in the collective construction of the new order. Precisely because of the collective character of such enterprise, which implied political debates and open deliberation, after Independence any knowledge had to be transparent and open to public scrutiny. This marked a crucial difference with the restrictive logic with which official information was administered in the imperial era. Given its relevance for politics, statistics became an object of public examination and demanded permanent revision.

51This analysis also sheds light on the close links between scientific knowledge and the institutional design of the State. Exploring the relationship between State knowledge and administrative philosophies is particularly relevant to understand periods like the 1820s, characterized by intense ideological disputes and the testing of different projects of territorial organization inspired by the Liberal tradition. As stated before, in that period the production of statistical knowledge was conceived as a mark of provincial autonomy and thus as an expression of a decentralized administrative structure. This order was virtually dismantled in the decade after the triumph of the Conservative forces in the 1829-30 Civil War, which marked a turn toward a monocentric and authoritarian political system. This change was also projected onto the way the production of statistics was understood, annulling the prominence of the Provincial Assemblies – the symbol of the political decentralization of the 1820s – in favor of Santiago, which became the only point of confluence of the informational networks the new order began to build. Such redefinition in the territorial distribution of power, and by extension in the practices of knowledge production, determined the administrative design under which the Statistics Office was organized, tying its trajectory to the new physiognomy of the State.

52Indeed, the history of the Statistics Office during the 1840s and 1850s cannot be understood at the margin of the process of territorial anchoring of the State bureaucracy, which in this period still showed signs of weakness. Due to the geographical challenges derived from the efforts to gather information, and the need to discipline the different layers of the bureaucratic chain, the production of official statistics emerges as one of the key chapters to understand that process. Because of the above, the different reforms that tried to normalize these operations, where the creation of the provincial statistics agents was a milestone, had a significant administrative impact. They exposed the grey areas of the State presence over the territory, but also helped to identify the institutional settings required for implementing a modern statistical system.

53Without dismissing the legacy of Manuel Talavera’s term, Santiago Lindsay was who implemented the most decisive measures to overcome those pitfalls. His demands in favor of the mobility of the provincial agents – expression of his deep understanding of the socio-spatial implications of the tasks entrusted to the Office – were the germ of an institutional reform that in the long term reinforced the capacity of the statistics agents to tame the territory, contributing thus to the consolidation of the informational channels the State sought to establish. Finally, the publication of the Anuario Estadístico and the policy of internationalization of local statistics had a similar relevance, since both enabled the assimilation of more exigent standards for the production of State knowledge. The creation of a platform for the diffusion of the Statistics Office’s researches and the incorporation of it into global networks of knowledge exchange show how important this science was for the State-formation process.

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Notes

1 Good examples of works focused on the transitional years, devoted to the Peruvian, Mexican, and Brazilian cases, are Ragas, José, “Ideólogos del Leviatán. Estadística y sociedad en el Perú (1791-1876),” in Aguirre, Carlos and Mc Evoy, Carmen (eds.), Intelectuales y poder. Ensayos en torno a la república de las letras en el Perú e Hispanoamérica (ss. XVI-XX), Lima, Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos-Instituto Riva Agüero, 2008, p. 151-172 (republished in Estudios Sociales del Estado 4, n° 2, 2016); Cházaro, Laura, “Imágenes de la población mexicana: descripciones, frecuencias y cálculos estadísticos,” Relaciones 88, vol. XXII, 2001, p. 15-48; and Camargo, Alexandre de Paiva Rio, “O censo de 1872 e a utopia estadística do Brasil Imperial,” História Unisinos 22, n° 3, 2018, p. 414-428.

2 The list of “major works” is wide and any selection will be unjust, but for this approach are particularly relevant: Mayer, Leticia, Entre el infierno de una realidad y el cielo de un imaginario. Estadística y comunidad científica en México de la primera mitad del siglo XIX, México, El Colegio de México, 1999; Senra, Nelson de Castro, História das estatísticas brasileiras, Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2006-2009, 4 vols.; Otero, Hernán, Estadística y nación. Una historia conceptual del pensamiento censal en la Argentina moderna, 1869-1914, Buenos Aires, Prometeo Libros, 2006; Senra, Nelson de Castro and Camargo, Alexandre de Paiva Rio, Estatísticas nas Américas. Por uma agenda de estudos históricos comparados, Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2010; Bustamante, Jesús, Giraudo, Laura, and Mayer, Leticia, La novedad estadística. Cuantificar, cualificar y transformar las poblaciones en Europa y América Latina, siglos XIX y XX, Madrid, Ediciones Polifemo, 2014; González Bollo, Hernán, La fábrica de las cifras oficiales del Estado argentino (1869-1947), Bernal, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, 2014.

3 The frictions between the universal aspirations of a global science deployed in an era of national self-assertion is one of the most interesting aspects of the book by Loveman, Mara, National Colors. Racial Classification and the State in Latin America, New York, Oxford University Press, 2014.

4 For some examples of this type of interpretation, Mizón, Luis, Claudio Gay y la formación de la identidad cultural chilena, Santiago, Editorial Universitaria, 2001, p. 55-60; Serrano, Sol, Ponce de León, Macarena, and Rengifo, Francisca, Historia de la Educación en Chile (1810-2010). vol. I. Aprender a leer y escribir (1810-1880), Santiago, Taurus, 2012, p. 93-138; and Estefane, Andrés, “‘Un alto en el camino para saber cuantos somos…’. Los censos de población y la construcción de lealtades nacionales. Chile, siglo XIX,” Historia, 2004, vol. 37- I, p. 33-59.

5 In this contrast I follow Ventresca, Marc, “When States Count: Institutional and Political Dynamics in Modern Census Establishment, 1800-1993,” Stanford University, Ph.D. Thesis, 1995, p. 50-54.

6 De Solano, Francisco (ed.), Cuestionarios para la formación de relaciones geográficas de Indias, siglos XVI/XIX, Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Centro de Estudios Históricos, Departamento de Historia de América, 1988, p. xvii-xxvii. I do not consider here the numerous local reports requested by provincial authorities (economic relations, fiscal visits, censuses, taxation studies) usually more restricted in thematic and territorial terms.

7 “Real Cédula al Gobernador de Chile urgiéndole, lo mismo que al Virrey del Perú y otras Audiencias, a la formación de informes sobre el estado del Reino, ya ordenado (y no realizado) en 1741,” Madrid, September 2, 1751, in De Solano, Francisco (ed.), Relaciones geográficas del Reino de Chile, 1756, Santiago, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Universidad Internacional SEK, 1994, p. 47-48.

8 For more details of his biography, Donoso, Ricardo, Un letrado del siglo XVIII, el doctor José Perfecto de Salas, Buenos Aires, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1963, 2 vols.

9 The answers to Salas’ questionnaires can be seen in De Solano (ed.), Relaciones geográficas del Reino de Chile, p. 47-284.

10 Regarding the Valdivia census, Guarda, Gabriel, “La visita del Fiscal Dr. José Perfecto de Salas al Gobierno de Valdivia y el censo de su población (1749),” Historia, 1986, vol. 21, p. 289-354; on the report, Ramírez Rivera, Hugo, “El oidor don José Perfecto de Salas y de los Ríos y su Informe sobre el Reyno de Chile, sus Poblaciones, Fuertes y Missiones,Revista de Geografía Norte Grande, 2000, vol. 27, p. 209-215 and also Donoso, Ricardo, Un letrado del siglo XVIII, el doctor José Perfecto de Salas, Buenos Aires, Universidad de Buenos Aires, p. 103-133, who reproduced it fully.

11 Silva Vargas, Fernando, “La visita de Areche en Chile y la subdelegación del regente Álvarez de Acevedo,” Historia, 1967, vol. 6, p. 153-220. The questionnaire of Álvarez and the responses of the magistrates, in De Solano, Francisco (ed.), Relaciones económicas del Reino de Chile (1780), Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Centro de Estudios Históricos, Departamento de Historia de América, 1994.

12 On the census of Jáuregui and its place among the different forms of registering population in the eighteenth century, see Araya, Alejandra, “Registrar a la plebe o el color de las castas: ‘calidad’, ‘clase’ y ‘casta’ en la Matrícula de Alday (Chile, siglo XVIII),” in Araya, Alejandra and Valenzuela, Jaime (eds.), América colonial. Denominaciones, clasificaciones e identidades, Santiago, RIL Editores, 2010, p. 331-362.

13 These censuses are part of what is called the local “proto-statistical” tradition, which also includes the population records produced by the military and the clergy. Contreras, Juan et al. Fuentes para un estudio de demografía histórica de Chile en el siglo XVIII, Concepción, Universidad de Concepción, Instituto Central de Historia, 1971, and Mellafe, Rolando, “Reseña de la historia censal del país,” in XII Censo General de Población y I de Vivienda. Levantado el 24 de abril de 1952, vol. I, Santiago. Servicio Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos, 1952, p. 11-33. Historian Jorge Pinto supplemented this list with a previous registration “slightly comparable with a census” conducted in the Bishopric of Concepción between 1765 and 1769. This partial survey took place during Bishop Pedro Ángel de Espiñeira’s visit to the jurisdiction. See De la Sala, Joseph, Visita general de la Concepción y su obispado por Fray Pedro Ángel de Espiñeira, su meritísimo prelado (1765-1769), Estudio preliminar, transcripción y notas de Jorge Pinto Rodríguez, Chillán, Ediciones Instituto Profesional de Chillán, 1986.

14 Hernández, Roberto, “Chile conquista su identidad con el progreso. La enseñanza de las matemáticas, 1758-1852,” Historia, 1998, vol. 23, p. 137-140. According to the information consigned by José Toribio Medina in his Historia de la Real Universidad de San Felipe (the main institution of higher education in Colonial Chile), during the period 1757-1839 the University granted 620 degrees in Philosophy, 569 in Theology, 526 in Law, 38 in Medicine and 40 in Mathematics. The estimate comes from Serrano, Ponce de León and Rengifo, Historia de la educación en Chile. vol. I, p. 60.

15 Araya, Alejandra, “La Matrícula de Alday (1777-1778): imaginarios sociales y políticos en el siglo XVIII Americano,” in Grupo de Estudios en Historia de las Ciencias (eds.), Control social y objetivación: escrituras y tránsitos de las ciencias en Chile, Santiago, Universidad de Chile, 2012, p. 15-33.

16 Egaña, Juan, Informe presentado al Real Tribunal de Minas, Santiago, Gastón Fernández Montero Editor, 2000 [1803].

17 These debates ended up forcing a military coup that took over the government and shut down Congress just few months after its inauguration. The lack of up to date demographic knowledge was mentioned as one of the reasons for the coup. See “Manifiesto de don José Miguel Carrera, en 4 de diciembre de 1811, en el cual justifica la disolución del Congreso,” in Sesiones de los Cuerpos Legislativos de la República de Chile. 1811 to 1845 (hereafter S.C.L.), Santiago, Imprenta Cervantes, 1887, vol. I, p. 198.

18 For details of the 1813 census preparations, Archivo Nacional, Censo de 1813. Levantado por Juan Egaña, de orden de la Junta de Gobierno formada por los señores Pérez, Infante y Eyzaguirre, Santiago, Imprenta Chile, 1953, p. 1-4.

19 Nevertheless, at the moment of combining the results, a local census taken in 1812 by the Episcopal Secretariat of Concepción was considered valid, and its results were integrated into the calculations of the administrative units in which the operation was formally carried out. “Un censo del Obispado de Concepción en 1812,” Revista Chilena de Historia y Geografía, 1916, vol. XIX, p. 266-267.

20 The references to the larger report may be found in “Memorias de los servicios públicos del Dr. Don Juan Egaña,” in Egaña, Juan, Escritos inéditos y dispersos, Edición de Raúl Silva Castro, Santiago, Imprenta Universitaria, 1949, p. 214.

21 Proyecto de Constitución para el Estado de Chile (1811) publicado en 1813 por orden de la Junta de Gobierno, Title V, Section IV, S.C.L., tomo I, p. 227-228.

22 Constitución Política del Estado de Chile de 1823, Título XVII: Dirección de Economía Nacional, National Congress of Chile, on line, accessed January 13, 2019, URL: http://bcn.cl/1lz4t.

23 Proyecto de reglamento provisorio de las atribuciones de las Asambleas, S.C.L., vol. XIV, January 19, 1827, p. 50. The Provincial Assemblies derived from the autonomous assemblies – a sort of local councils – organized during the first years of Independence. After Bernardo O’Higgins’ abdication in 1823 they recovered visibility and the Federal Laws of 1826 extended and formalized their attributions. The Provincial Assemblies were key spaces of negotiation between local sovereignties and the power of the central State.

24 Constitución Política de la República de Chile promulgada en 8 de agosto de 1828, Art. 114, n° 13. National Congress of Chile, on line, accessed January 13, 2019, URL: http://bcn.cl/1v9pr. Although it seems necessary to confirm the source of this turn, several clues point to the Constitution of Cadiz of 1812, which in its Article 335, section 7, ordered the delegations “to form the census and the statistics” of every province, responding thus to the same principle. I follow here Bustamante, Jesús, “¿Estadística o censo? La probabilidad como una cuestión política y moral,” in Bustamante, Giraudo, and Mayer, La novedad estadística, p. 48.

25 Sagredo, Rafael, “De la historia natural a la historia nacional. La Historia Física y Política de Claudio Gay y la nación chilena,” in Gay, Claudio, Historia Física y Política de Chile, vol. I, Santiago, Cámara Chilena de la Construcción, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, 2007, p. ix-lvii.

26 Gay, Claudio, Correspondencia de Claudio Gay. Recopilación, prólogo y notas de Guillermo Feliú Cruz y Carlos Stuardo Ortiz, Santiago: Ediciones de la Biblioteca Nacional, 1962, p. 39-41.

27 For a review of this discussion, Estefane, Andrés, “La institucionalización del sistema estadístico chileno: debates y problemas prácticos (1843-1851),” Estudios Sociales del Estado 2, n° 4, 2016, p. 35-73.

28 Fernando Urízar developed the first research program of the Statistics Office in 1843. It consisted of 26 sections organized into seven chapters. For a detailed analysis, see El Progreso, Santiago, December 6, 1843 and the subsequent editions until January 1844. Regarding the publishing program, in this period only appeared a statistics of the Maule Province (1845) – the only volume of what supposedly it would be the first “general statistics of the Republic” – and the Repertorio Nacional (1850) a kind of almanac that included loose statistical data and miscellaneous information about the country. Estadística de la República de Chile. Provincia del Maule, Santiago, Imprenta de los Tribunales, 1845, and Repertorio Nacional formado por la Oficina de Estadística en conformidad del artículo 12 de la ley de 17 de septiembre de 1847, Santiago, Imprenta del Progreso, 1850.

29 “Memoria que el Ministro de Estado en el Departamento de Interior presenta al Congreso Nacional, año de 1851,” en Documentos Parlamentarios (…) correspondientes al segundo quinquenio de la Administración Bulnes (1847-1851), Santiago, Imprenta del Ferrocarril, 1858, p. 662-663.

30 National Archives of Chile (hereafter NA), Ministry of Interior (hereafter MINT), vol. 122, f. 180 y 181.

31 El Araucano, Santiago, October 13, 1855.

32 NA, MINT, vol. 371, f. 18-24; also El Araucano, Santiago, February 19, 1856.

33 NA, MINT, vol. 122, f. 371-372.

34 Regarding these epistolary exchanges, see NA, MINT, vol. 122, f. 383-389v and vol. 371, f. 114.

35 In a plan for a future census written in 1858 Lindsay outlined the notion of bureaucratic mobility he was working on: “Officials will be obliged to tour the province and personally prepare the operation in each subdelegation and, if possible, in each district. In each of these divisions they would form commissions among the more zealous and prepared neighbors, getting them to know the objectives, and giving detailed and precise explanations about each of the points of the instructions and the materials that demanded attention. With the paper work at sight, the agent would practice and would make neighbors to practice in smaller units (a suburb for example) what the commissions must execute later in bigger terms in the districts and subdelegations to which the commissioners belong.” Censo Jeneral de la República de Chile levantado en abril de 1854, Santiago, Imprenta del Ferrocarril, 1858, p. 9.

36 See the tables of contents and introductions to Anuario Estadístico de la República de Chile (hereafter AERCh). Entrega Primera, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1860 and AERCh. Entrega Segunda, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1860.

37 AERCh. Entrega Quinta, Santiago: Imprenta Nacional, 1863, p. 423-430; AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1871 y 1872. Tomo Décimo Tercio, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1873, p. 175-188; AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1877 y 1878. Tomo Vigésimo, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1879, p. 123-133.

38 AERCh. Entrega Primera, p. vi-vii.

39 Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz approached this problem by suggesting that, on statistical matters, the degree of imbrication between the State and the Church depended on the existence of an autonomous and ubiquitous civil bureaucracy. Sánchez-Albornoz, Nicolás, La población de América Latina. Desde los tiempos precolombinos al año 2025, Madrid, Alianza Universidad, 1994, p. 19.

40 Íbid., p. 22.

41 In this respect, Censo Jeneral de la República de levantado el 19 de abril de 1865, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1866, p. xiv-xv and Quinto Censo Jeneral de la población de Chile levantado el 19 de abril de 1875, Valparaíso, Imprenta del Mercurio, 1876, p. xxii.

42 NA, MINT, vol. 371, f. 113 y 124.

43 Elementos de Estadística. Escritos en francés por Alejandro Moreau de Jonnès, traducidos libremente al castellano por Eugenio C. Sosa, Lima, Impreso por José D. Huerta, 1854. A second French edition was launched in 1856, which was translated into Spanish the following year by Ignacio Andrés and Casimiro Pío Garbayo de Bofarull.

44 Matta, Manuel Antonio, “Elementos de Estadística. Obra escrita en francés por A. Moreau de Jonnès,” Revista de Santiago, Tome I, May 1855, p. 228-236.

45 For more details on the circulation of Moreau de Jonnès’ manual among intendancies, NA, MINT, vol. 122, f. 344-356.

46 For tracing these circuits of exchange and acquisition, NA, Ministry of Education, vol. 41, s.f., Chilean Consulate in France, Paris, July 13, 1859; Chilean Consulate in Altona, Altona, August 12 and October 15, 1860; and Chilean Legation in Belgium, Brussels, February 8, 1862; in the same collection, vol. 96, s.f., documents: 23, Santiago, July 14, 1859; 70, Santiago, July 25, 1860; 80, Santiago, September 21, 1860; 83, Santiago, October 3, 1860; for purchases in Chile, NA, MINT, vol. 79, f. 89.

47 Gagnon, Marc-André, “Les réseaux de l’ internationalisme statistique (1885-1914),” in Beaud, Jean-Pierre and Prévost, Jean-Guy (dirs.), L’ère du chiffre. Systèmes statistiques et traditions nationales, Québec, Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2000, p. 189-219.

48 Brian, Eric, “Del buen observador al estadístico de Estado: la mundialización de las cifras,” Anuario IEHS 14, 1999, p. 15-22. For a classic approach to the influence of the international statistical congresses on the development of national statistical systems, Westergaard, Harald, Contributions to the History of Statistics, New York, August M. Kelley Publishers, 1969 [1932], p. 172-235.

49 Randeraad, Nico, States and Statistics in the Nineteenth Century: Europe by Numbers, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2010. A similar argument can be found in Beaud, Jean-Pierre and Prévost, Jean-Guy, “Systèmes statistiques et traditions nationales,” in Beaud and Prévost, L’ère du chiffre, p. 3-16

50 Randeraad, Nico, “The International Statistical Congresses (1853-1876). Knowledge, Transfers and Their Limits,” European History Quarterly 41, n° 1, 2011, p. 50-65. For the Chilean case, I have found only marginal references to the proceedings of these congresses. See, for example, AERCh correspondiente a 1868 y 1869. Tomo Décimo, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1870, p. xiii-xv.

51 NA, MINT, vol. 79, f. 89-89v; vol. 371, f. 113 and 187.

52 This commission resulted in the publication of Carmona, Manuel, Apuntes estadísticos sobre la República de Chile, Valparaíso, Imprenta del Universo de G. Helfmann, 1876. At the same time, the Ministry of Interior ordered to send a complete collection of the Anuario and one of the population censuses to give foreigners “an idea of the intellectual advancement of the country.” NA, MINT, vol. 371, f. 352.

53 Carmona, Manuel, Resumen de la estadística comercial de 1873 y de la estadística retrospectiva de 1844 a 1873, Valparaíso, La Oficina, 1874. The information on the wide circulation of Carmona’s text comes from Boletín de la Exposición Internacional de Chile en 1875. Publicación Oficial de la Comisión Directiva. Entrega Quinta, enero de 1875, Santiago, Imprenta de la Librería del Mercurio, 1875, p. 521-523.

54 Sève, Edouard, Le Chili tel qu’il est. Publications officielles de la Commission Belge faites avec l’approbation de la Commission Directrice de l’Exposition Internationale du Chili de 1875, Valparaíso, Imprimerie du Mercurio, 1876.

55 El Araucano, Santiago, October 27, 1864. For other references concerning administrative overload of low-level bureaucrats, NA, MINT, vol. 79, f. 115.

56 “Informe del visitador de estadística en las provincias del sur,” AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1870 y 1871. Tomo Undécimo, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1871, p. xii-xix; “Informe del visitador de las provincias del norte,” AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1870 y 1871. Tomo Duodécimo, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1872, p. xx-xxiii. The instruction manual was a section of Rengifo’s report on his visit to the southern intendancies that the Ministry of Interior ordered to be published later under the title Recolección de datos estadísticos para la Oficina Central, Santiago, Imprenta Nacional, 1874.

57 AERCh correspondiente a los años de 1870 and 1871. Tomo Undécimo, p. xi-xiii.

58 Estefane, Andrés, “Burócratas ambulantes. Movilidad y producción de conocimiento estadístico en Chile, 1860-1873,” Revista Enfoques, 2012, vol. 10-17, p. 123-146.

59 AERCh correspondiente a 1873 y 1874. Tomo Décimo Quinto, Santiago, Imprenta de la Librería del Mercurio, 1875, p. viii.

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Andrés Estefane, « Bureaucracy and State Knowledge: On the Production of Statistics in Chile (1750s-1870s) », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En ligne], Débats, mis en ligne le 08 octobre 2019, consulté le 24 octobre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/nuevomundo/76841 ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.76841

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Andrés Estefane

Centro de Estudios de Historia Política
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez
andres.estefane@uai.cl

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