Speaking of contraband. Presentation of 'Islanders and Empire: Smuggling and Political Defiance in Hispaniola, 1580-1690'
Caribbean Studies Seminar Series
Chair: Simeon Simeonov (Brown University)
Speaker: Juan José Ponce Vázquez (University of Alabama)
I will take the audience through some of the main arguments and narrative of my book Islanders and Empire. In this monograph, I examine the role smuggling played in the cultural, economic, and socio-political transformation of Hispaniola from the late sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. With a rare focus on local peoples and communities, I analyse how residents of Hispaniola actively negotiated and transformed the meaning and reach of imperial bureaucracies and institutions for their own benefit. By co-opting the governing and judicial powers of local and imperial institutions on the island, residents could take advantage of, and even dominate, the contraband trade that reached the island's shores. In doing so, they altered the course of the European inter-imperial struggles in the Caribbean by limiting, redirecting, or suppressing the Spanish crown's policies, thus taking control of their destinies and that of their neighbours in Hispaniola, other Spanish Caribbean territories, and the Spanish empire in the region.
Date: 25 January 2022