Premodern Empires and Connectivity: Spanish America, Muscovy, and China in Comparison, 16th to 19th Century 

AHA Session 277
Sunday, January 6, 2019: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Salon 6 (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
Martin Aust, University of Bonn
Martin Aust, University of Bonn

Session Abstract

Among historians of the 19th and 20th centuries it is common opinion that empires and global connectivity were closely interrelated. 19th- and 20th-century empires belong to the main driving forces of various waves of globalization. As to the period from the 16th to the vey early 19th century things look different. The scale and impact of premodern empires’ connectivity is subject to debate. This panel analyses the state of affairs and advances it in comparing Spanish America, Muscovy and China. Dominic Sachsenmaier highlights connectivity between imperial systems as a structural force in shaping the history of christianity in 17th-century China. The interaction between the system of catholic European powers and the Chinese empire significantly impacted on christian agencies in 17th-century China. Christoph Witzenrath explores connectivity between neighboring empires by focusing on slaves in Muscovite-Ottoman history. Through the prism of enslavement, slave trade and liberating slaves in the western Eurasian steppe region Witzenrath profiles entanglements between the Muscovite and Ottoman empires from the 16th into the early 18th century. Federica Morelli explores two factors which caused the end of the Spanish monarchy in South and Central America: both, developments across the Spanish imperial space and connections to the Atlantic Revolutions of the late 18th century led to Spain’s loss of the American parts of its empire in the very early 19th century. All three papers will pay special attention to assessing the range and impact of connectivity on premodern empires’ history and thus break new ground in entangling imperial and global history. The basic question will be whether the global history-approch can be applied full scale to premodern empires of if the history of premodern empires’ connectivity should rather be positioned on a middle range below the scale of wholesale global entanglements.
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