New Perspectives on the Spanish Atlantic: The Slave Trade to Spanish America, Part 1

AHA Session 91
Conference on Latin American History 13
Saturday, January 3, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Empire Ballroom West (Sheraton New York, Second Floor)
Manuel Barcia, University of Leeds
The Early Iberian Slave Trade to the Spanish Caribbean, 1500–1640
Marc V. Eagle, Western Kentucky University; David Wheat, Michigan State University
Paul LaChance, University of Ottawa

Session Abstract

This session, part 1 of the panel, will serve both as an introduction for the entire multi-session workshop as it delves into the beginning of the slave trade to Spain’s American colonies.  David Eltis will present what is the prospective introduction to the book project. The two central purposes of this introduction are first to reevaluate the slave trade to the Spanish colonies and second to explore some of our surprising findings for Atlantic history. This reassessment leads to a new appreciation of not only the African presence in the Spanish Americas, but also –given the links between slavery and economic might before abolition– the durability and importance of the whole Spanish imperial project.

Marc Eagle and David Wheat offer a new periodization of the earliest era of the slave trade in the New World, from the early 1500s up to 1640, when the rupture between the Spanish and Portuguese crowns produced a sharp decline in slave imports to Spanish colonies. In addition to the main ports of Cartagena and Veracruz, their study addresses insular and mainland ports throughout the Caribbean region.

Pablo Sierra examines Puebla de los Ángeles, Mexico’s major slave market, located between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City. His paper contributes to the ongoing revision of the transatlantic and Spanish American slave trades, and also complicates our understanding of Afro-Mexican history as a linear progression from Portuguese-asiento slavery to creole freedom.

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