Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830

By Daniels, Jason | The Journal of Southern History, May 2019 | Go to article overview

Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830


Daniels, Jason, The Journal of Southern History


Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830. Edited by Jorge Canizares-Esguerra. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. Pp. x, 330. $55.00, ISBN 978-0-8122-4983-5.)

Jorge Canizares-Esguerra's Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830 is a collection of twelve essays that examine the "entangled histories" of the Iberian and British Atlantic worlds as well as the archival processes that rendered those interconnected and common histories invisible (p. 3). Crafted by a diverse group of scholars, the essays focus primarily on the economic and intellectual strands that tied the two Atlantics together. The essays range in both depth and scope. With coverage across three centuries and more than a dozen locales in both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds, this collection appeals to a wide range of scholars working on sociocultural, intellectual, political, and economic histories.

The volume is divided into four parts. Part 1, "Severed Histories," is composed of three essays. Mark Sheaves examines the actions of two "culturally ambidextrous merchants" operating around various places of the Iberian Atlantic world during the mid-sixteenth century (p. 6). Sheaves illustrates how individuals navigated between Iberian Catholic and English Protestant spheres by pragmatically shifting identities according to various religious and political climates in order to advance their particular sociocultural and economic goals. Michael Guasco's essay focuses on the underexamined role that Africans played in introducing the English to the Atlantic world. Guaseo argues that a reevaluation of Anglo-African interactions before the rise of plantation slavery is crucial to understanding the expansion of the Anglo Atlantic colonial endeavor and England's rising competition with Spain. Taking on another longheld tradition, Benjamin Breen argues that it was the British, rather than the Dutch, who replaced the Portuguese in the tropics. He contends that the British inherited land, capital, and trading networks, as well as invaluable botanical and anthropological information, from the Portuguese. Breen highlights the epistemological link forged between the Portuguese and the British as they exchanged pharmaceutical knowledge and materials. Collectively, these essays highlight how deliberate erasures of the Iberian source material from the Anglo Atlantic narrative engendered two separate archival processes and two distinct historiographies of two obviously interconnected empires.

Part 2, "Brokers and Translators," examines the role European cultural intermediaries played in either facilitating or obscuring Anglo-Iberian entanglements. Christopher Heaney examines the English understanding of South America during the mid-sixteenth century through an analysis of the work of Sir Thomas More and Richard Eden. Heaney argues that Eden's work, which built on More's Utopia, praised the Spanish colonial endeavor in Peru and encouraged "English navigators and merchants to contribute to and profit from an expanding 'Christian Empire' of native peoples" (p. 86). Holly Snyder highlights the role Iberian Jews played in British imperial expansion during the seventeenth century. She illustrates how Jews embraced various religious identities to negotiate different local political-religious circumstances to further their personal agendas. Christopher Schmidt-Nowara uses the life of George Dawson Flinter to illustrate "the deep history of Irish immigration to peninsular Spain and the Spanish colonies and naturalization as Spanish subjects; Irish military service to the Spanish crown; and Irish involvement with the struggles over slavery and abolition in the Spanish colonial empire" (p. …

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