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This is a cultural history based on a semi-quantitative method. Adriaan C. van Oss was a historian who, together with B.H. Slicher van Bath, developed this method to analyse cultural data. His major study was published after his sudden death in 1984 by the Cambridge University Press: Catholic Colonialism: A Parish History of Guatemala, 1524-1821
. It was recognized as an important work on the history of parish formation and composition, as well as on ecclesiastical imperialism in a peripheral area. His articles and manuscripts were directed to a much broader focus. In general, Van Oss rejected the traditional mercantilist views of colonial Spanish America that had emphasized long-distance trade and imperial connections. He suggested instead models of local self-sufficiency, unified by the Church and by various forms of cultural adaptation. The present collection is a selection of his work, some published, others not. A few chapters are based on collections of series of data on population, economic production, church building, and maps, to reconstruct the characteristics of Central America as an autarkic colony, the development of colonial bishoprics over South America and mendicant expansion in New Spain. The picture that emerged was of rapid expansion of colonial power, but slow change of cultural characteristics. The reconstruction of the features of New Spain and early Venezuela turned out to be historical geographies. Another field of interest was the development of the colonial city in Spanish America, which also inspired Van Oss to look at one colonial city in particular, Acmbro. The history of the Church in the Mexican State of Hidalgo during the aftermath of the Revolution suggests how the picture of the colonial data could be confirmed for the early twentieth century.