New Perspectives on the Spanish Atlantic: The Slave Trade to Spanish America, Part 2

AHA Session 120
Conference on Latin American History 19
Saturday, January 3, 2015: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Beekman Parlor (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Elena Schneider, University of California, Berkeley
Alex Borucki, University of California, Irvine

Session Abstract

The second part of this multisession workshop will focus on the seventeenth century, an era divided by the decline of all Atlantic commerce between Spain and its colonies around 1650. While Portuguese traders dominated this traffic everywhere in Spanish America from Buenos Aires to Veracruz during the first half of the century, new European interlopers such as the English and the Dutch became the leading suppliers of enslaved Africans to the Spanish colonies after the mid-century crisis.

Based on notarial records that identify 1,400 enslaved individuals of African ancestry by name and other personal characteristics, Paul Lokken examines slave-trading patterns in the territory of the modern republics of Guatemala and El Salvador (the mid-colonial “Province of Guatemala”) in the half-century from 1600 to 1650. His data set underscores the significance of West Central Africa as a point of origin for involuntary migration to Central America.

Kara D. Schultz’s research reveals how Buenos Aires’ free and enslaved populations participated in vibrant South Atlantic communities that cut across imperial boundaries. Buenos Aires, at the confluence of several rivers, relative close to Brazil and Angola and distant from Spain, became the third largest point of slave disembarkation in Spanish America during the first half of the seventeenth century.

Sabrina Smith’s paper examines the slave trade to the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico during the seventeenth century. Her paper emphasizes the extent of interregional trade networks that facilitated the slave trade. Her data shows that despite the prevalence of indigenous labor, Spanish merchants in small urban centers still relied on African slaves.

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