Approaching the Americas: Britain and Spain in the New World

AHA Session 63
North American Conference on British Studies 2
Friday, January 7, 2011: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Simmons Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, University of Texas at Austin
Molly A. Warsh, Texas A&M University

Session Abstract

This panel, “Approaching the Americas: Britain and Spain in the New World,” provides a multilayered look into the early modern Atlantic world. By focusing on the intersection of the British and Spanish empires, rather than limiting inquiry within national or imperial boundaries, this panel aims to provide a fuller and more dynamic picture of the development of the Americas in the sixteenth through early eighteenth centuries. This panel’s chair, Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, has written a number of books exploring the importance of these early modern empires to one another. We expect that this panel will appeal to historians of the British and Spanish empires, as well as early Americanists and Latin Americanists.

The papers in this panel address the issues of imperial cooperation, competition, and influence in a number of different contexts. Christopher Heaney’s contribution, “Grave Expectations: Sir Walter Raleigh and English Tomb-Raiding in the Early Modern Iberian Atlantic,” focuses on grave-robbing as a common experience to the earliest English and Spanish explorers and settlers, and looks to Spanish models of successful conquest as influential on English hopes and fears. Jason Eldred’s piece, “Of Spanish Affections: Early English Domestic Opposition to the Virginia Company,” locates another sort of ambivalence in the English metropole. His paper suggests that anti-Virginia Company sentiment was driven by pro-Spanish feeling, and demonstrates that some Englishmen were concerned with the existing claims to New World lands held by other Europeans. Finally, Adrian Finucane’s paper, “Unlikely Alliances: British Factors in Spanish America, 1713-1739,” focuses on the thirty-year period of cooperation between the British and Spanish empires during which the British South Sea Company held the exclusive contract to import enslaved Africans into the Spanish Americas. Her paper looks at the lives of individual British factors living in Spanish America as a way of understanding the conflict and cooperation that occurred between these empires and their subjects in the early eighteenth century. While these papers span a wide geographical and chronological range, their common interest in the relationships, real and imagined, between the British and Spanish empires in the Americas will provide a wide basis for discussion of the importance of this interaction in the development of the New World.

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