Fuentes, Manuel Atanasio (1820–1889)

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Fuentes, Manuel Atanasio (1820–1889)

Manuel Atanasio Fuentes (b. 1820; d. 2 January 1889), Peru's foremost statistician of the era was also an acute observer of Lima in the mid-nineteenth century. A census taker, journalist, administrator, social commentator, satirist, historian, and folklorist, he also delivered expert opinion on legal and medical questions. Fuentes drew notice as a journalist in the 1840s, when he began writing on the everyday life and customs of Lima. A traditionalist who feared that guano excesses would destroy Peru's subsistence highland village economy and thus alter traditional highland culture, Fuentes sought to awaken intellectuals to thinking about the primacy of Andean culture. He also documented the size and variety of the artisan population of Lima in Guía histórico-descriptiva administrativa, judicial y de domicilio de Lima (1860), a study carried out after the artisan uprisings of 1858. Between 1858 and 1878 he produced a series of statistical studies based on painstaking research. His voluminous Estadística general de Lima (1858) listed data on every aspect of urban life: population, architecture, customs, and industry. He updated this survey four times and issued editions in French and English. He also wrote street guides and almanacs on Lima. As a public administrator, he directed the organization of a new faculty of political science and administration at the National University of San Marcos, a task undertaken at the behest of President Manuel Pardo, and he undertook the country's first scientific national census (1876).

See alsoJournalism; Peru: Peru Since Independence.


Paul Gootenberg, Imagining Development: Economic Ideas in Peru's "Fictitious Prosperity" of Guano, 1840–1880 (1993), esp. pp. 64-71.

Alfonso W. Quiroz, Domestic and Foreign Finance in Modern Peru, 1850–1950: Financing Visions of Development (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Coloma Porcari, César. La ciudad de los reyes y la guía del viajero en Lima de Manuel Atanasio Fuentes. Lima: Instituto Latinoámericano de Cultura y Desarrollo, 1997.

                                        Vincent Peloso