Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

All in the Family? Reflections on Colonial Ibero-America in an Atlantic Frame

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

All in the Family? Reflections on Colonial Ibero-America in an Atlantic Frame

Article excerpt

Abstract

The field of Atlantic history has grown up over a relatively short period of time to conceptualize more broadly the narratives that deal with the interrelated histories of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Historians of British North America tend to predominate among the field's early enthusiasts and still seem to find Atlantic history most congenial, while historians of Europe, Africa and Latin America have had a more mixed response. Usage of an Iberian Atlantic framework in anglophone historiography to date has been modest for several reasons, among them, the wider field's anglophilic origins and the linguistic, national, and imperial boundaries that still constrain it. This essay evaluates the potential of an Iberian Atlantic framework within the larger Atlantic history paradigm mostly through scholarship written in English. It explores the definitions, utility and limits of an Atlantic perspective for historians of Ibero-America to consider whether the adoption of an Iberian Atlantic framework makes sense for those of us who study colonial Ibero-America. The essay discusses how the term 'Iberian' has been and could be defined, examines some of the recent assessments in the wider field of Atlantic history and Iberians' place therein, and then analyses some recent scholarship explicitly located in an Iberian Atlantic to reflect on some of the topics and themes that can be usefully examined through that lens. The conclusion is that the overall utility of an Iberian Atlantic framework has significant limits and the wider field's roots in European conquest and colonialism cannot be erased or ignored.

Resumen

La conceptualización de la region atlántica como unidad histórica para investigar las historias entrelazadas de Europa, África, y las Américas es una novedad relativa- mente reciente. Los historiadores de la Norteamérica británica predominaron en los años iniciales del desarrollo del campo y todavía ellos lo encuentran más agradable y útil, mientras los historiadores de Europa, África, y las Américas son más ambiva- lentes. En este ensayo se evalúa el potencial de una estructura iberoatlántico dentro del pabellón de la historia atlántica por la historigrafía escrita en inglés mayor- mente. Se explora las definiciones, la utilidad, y los límites de una perspectiva atlán- tica para considerar si la adopción de un esquema ibero-atlántico tiene sentido para aquellos de nosotros que estudiamos la Ibero-América colonial. Se examina como se ha definido y se puede definir el término 'Ibérico', se consideran varias evaluaciones del campo de la historia atlántica más grande y cómo localizar los ibéricos adentro de ella, y después se analizan unas obras recientes que se ubican explícitamente en el Atlántico ibérico para reflexionar sobre los temas que se pueden examinar por dicha perspectiva. La conclusión es que la utilidad del esquema iberoatlántico es bien limitado y que no se puede borrar ni pasar por alto los orígenes de la historia atlántica en la conquista y el colonialismo europeo.

The field of Atlantic history has grown up over a relatively short period of time, a teenager among older historical concepts and narratives that deal with the interrelated histories of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.1 Enthusiasm for the field has yielded conferences, seminars, textbooks, peer-reviewed journals, and a growing bibliography of articles and monographs on specific topics within the field, to say nothing of a substantial bibliography of its own historiography. Growth of the field has been so extensive that a recent assessment of it noted 'that no comprehensive bibliography can be compiled' (Bailyn and Denault 2009: 2). We also have a growing number of articles challenging various articulations of an Atlantic history paradigm and several book-length collections assessing both Atlantic history and its historiography.2

Historians of British North America tended to predominate among the field's early enthusiasts and still seem to find Atlantic history most congenial, while historians of Europe, Africa, and Latin America have had a more mixed response. …

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