New Perspectives on the Enlightenment across the Spanish Atlantic, 1680–1815
The papers of this panel are united by their attempts to disentangle the way that various movements within the Spanish Empire across the eighteenth century were manifestations of the broader, European Enlightenment. Representing both Spain and the viceroyalty of Spain, this panel offers different perspectives on how the activity of Spanish religious and intellectuals contributed to a more general notion of a Spanish, Catholic Enlightenment. Specifically, these presentations examine the role of the Spanish Enlightenment in state-church relations, the history of epistemology and philosophy of science, and the relationship between science, religion, and secularization. In so doing, however, they place the Spanish Empire within the larger Atlantic community, offering insight which may be used by a broad array of historians to understand the way that Enlightenment thought was produced, disseminated, challenged, and adapted during the eighteenth century.
By presenting papers focused on Mexico, the Iberian Atlantic, and Spain, ranging from the end of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth, this panel expands the historical scale for measuring the enlightenment experience. In The Atlantic Enlightenment (Ashgate, 2008), Susan Manning and Francis D. Cogliano suggest that the “re-centring of Enlightenment discussion on the Atlantic” help scholars to understand the unique role that particular geographic and cultural contexts had in shaping the history of ideas (2). This panel offers three different perspectives from the Spanish Atlantic, fragmenting the notion of one, singular “Enlightenment,” and inviting historians to reflect upon the way that enlightenment thought was created and shaped in three different Spanish contexts from the eighteenth century, and how these enlightenments in turn contributed to the development of ideas. Thus, this panel contributes to the theme of the 131st Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association by exploring new ways of stretching the historical scale of enlightenment studies - geographically, disciplinarily, and temporally.