Black Fear: Racism, Slavery, and Radical Politics in Spain’s Atlantic Empire

Saturday, January 8, 2022: 11:10 AM
Grand Ballroom A (Sheraton New Orleans)
Jesús Sanjurjo, Cardiff University
By 1836, Spain was a very different country to the one that had resisted the Napoleonic invasion. The independence of most of the American territories, the civil war, the repression and the long exiles of some of its key liberal political figures, had created a much darker political climate in which many pledged to preserve what was left of a shrinking empire at any cost. The restoration of a constitutional regime opened the door to a vivid debate on the way that the remaining colonial territories in the Caribbean had to be ruled. "American disloyalty" combined with the pivotal importance of slavery in Cuba, justified, in the eyes of the peninsular deputies, the need to reinforce authoritarian regimes overseas. The words "freedom and equality" meant "extermination and death" for the whites of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The emergence and consolidation of white-supremacist discourses in the Spanish Cortes served as the vehicle to prevent the expansion of political rights to the Spaniards of the Americas.