Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

by David Wheat


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This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.

David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the "Africanization" of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain's colonization of the Caribbean.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469647654
Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 08/01/2018
Series: Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 720,236
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Wheat is associate professor of history at Michigan State University.

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From the Publisher

Brilliantly researched and elegantly written, Wheat's study of the centrality of slavery and Africans in the pre-sugar Caribbean challenges much of what we think we know about the early Caribbean, New World slavery, and the early Spanish empire. This is a must-read book for students of Atlantic, African diaspora, and colonial Latin American history.—Ada Ferrer, New York University

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