Monday, April 13, 2020 at 12:15pm to 1:10pm
Stimson Hall, G01
Traditional interpretations of Spanish imperial consolidation in the 16th-century Atlantic place heavy emphasis on official maritime structures regulated by authorities based in Seville. But despite their central position in Caribbean historiographies, the Indies fleets and slave trade asientos accommodated multiple agendas -- including some that worked against the priorities of the Spanish crown and House of Trade -- and appear far less monolithic if viewed within a broader context that includes regional traffic, voyages from the Canaries, and commonplace arribadas or "emergency landings." This presentation provides an overview of maritime traffic arriving in selected Caribbean ports, with several illustrative examples of individual travelers and itineraries drawn from notarial records in the Canary Islands. It argues for the utility of viewing early Iberian settlements in the Caribbean and off the coasts of western Africa not merely as way stations or stepping stones for Iberian "expansion," but as polyvalent hubs for migration and trade within, across, and beyond ostensible imperial boundaries.
David Wheat, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, received his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 2009. His book Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640 (2016) was awarded the Omohundro Institute's Jamestown Prize, the Lapidus Center's Harriet Tubman Prize, and the American Historical Association's James A. Rawley Prize. His essays have appeared in Clio: Femmes, Genre, Histoire; the American Historical Review; the Journal of African History; Slavery & Abolition, the Journal of Early Modern History, and in several edited collections. He recently co-edited two volumes of essays: The Spanish Caribbean and the Atlantic World in the Long Sixteenth Century, co-edited with Ida Altman (2019), and From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas, co-edited with Alex Borucki and David Eltis (2020).