Thursday, January 7, 2010: 3:00 PM
Manchester Ballroom B (Hyatt)
Recent work in ethnogeography, particularly the distinction between _spaces_ in which systems operate and _places_ in which people interact, while applied primarily to landed territory, are applicable as well to oceans and seas. That applicability is particularly visible in the early modern Caribbean because of the diversity and overlapping nature of imperial jurisdictions. This papers seeks to use concepts derived from ethnogeography (and evidence drawn primarily from English and Spanish sources) to consider the different meanings Caribbean land and water spaces held to people who might draw the region's most important boundaries in very different ways: at the borders between water and land, at imagined imperial borders imposed upon sea spaces or at coastlines, or between various populations living within or traveling through the region. Because many Caribbean islands lay in sight of one another and the surrounding mainlands, the water was not oceanic space as modern geographers have tried to define it or as contemporary legal theorists conceived it. Rather, the Caribbean presented its territorial and maritime residents, like the diplomats who tried to understand it from afar, with a specific context of complicated and contested international proximity and mobility. These particular Caribbean realities influenced the articulation of rapidly changing ideas about definitions of empire.
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