6719 - "Being at the Heart of the World": Asia and the Pacific in the Making of Creole America (1580-1641)

This paper examines how the connections of the viceroyalty of New Spain with the Pacific world, and Asia in particular, influenced the formation of Mexican Creole identities during the late sixteenth and the seventeenth century. For a long time, the early-modern interaction between South East Asia and the American continent has been considered a mere peripheral phenomenon. More recently, however, new studies have demonstrated that the increasing exchange of objects, people and ideas between the continents affected life and practices on both sides of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. While the Pacific world became notably present in the experienced collective reality of those living in New Spain, Creoles began to develop their own outlook on their place within the empire from an increasingly global perspective. New literary tropes, symbols and images were developed to celebrate the “patria”, “our Creole nation” and the unique position of the American continent, as such confronting Peninsular and European “inventions” of the American continent and the identities of its inhabitants. I argue that the viceroyalty’s place as in-between Europe and Asia, turning it into a main economic centre and a hub in knowledge production networks, affected the development of such sentiments. In addition, the paper establishes how “Americans” appropriated existing ideas and newly gathered knowledge of the Pacific world to reproduce spatial representations of what was known as the “Indias Occidentales”. In doing so, the paper sheds new light on the role of, to paraphrase Donald Lach, “the Pacific in the making of Creole America”.        

Keywords: Globalisation, Identities, Creole, Pacific, Asia

Author: Vallen, Nino (Internationales Graduiertenkolleg "Entre espacios", Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany / Deutschland)


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