History seminars at the IHR

Latin American History

Convenors: Professor Nicola Miller (UCL), Dr Alejandra Irigoin (LSE), Paulo Drinot (UCL), Dr Natalia Sobrevilla (Kent), Dr Thomas Rath (UCL), Professor James Dunkerley (QMU)

Venue: Peter Marshall Room, 204, IHR second floor

Time: Tuesdays, 5:30pm

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Spring Term 2015
DateSeminar details
13 January A Comparative History of Sports in South America 1860 - 1920

Matthew Brown (Bristol)

Abstract: What factors shaped the adoption of football, baseball, cycling, swimming and horse-racing as competitive sports in late nineteenth-century South America? How did the significance of economic, political, military, cultural and linguistic factors vary when compared to the development of sporting cultures elsewhere in the world? To what extent were early sporting cultures as gendered as they appear from the vantage point of the twenty-first century? What degree of resilience did colonial sports such as bull-fighting and cock-fighting retain amidst the arrival of regulated physical pastimes with British, German, Italian, North American and French workers and migrants? The paper will present the preliminary findings of new archival research in Brazil, Chile, Peru and Ecuador into the historical factors which shaped the development of modern sporting and spectatorship cultures in South America. The findings suggest a need to revisit traditional myths about ‘founding fathers’ of particular sports, such as Charles Miller in Brazil, and indeed to overcome the ‘football-centric’ approach of much of the existing historiography. The paper will conclude with reflections on an amazing historical misunderstanding which explains why Ecuador has never won the FIFA football World Cup.
Bio: Dr Matthew Brown is a reader in Latin American Studies in the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Bristol. He is the author of From Frontiers to Football: An Alternative History of Latin America (Reaktion, 2014), The Struggle for Power in Post-Independence Colombia and Venezuela (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, forthcoming in Spanish with Universidad Externado de Colombia in 2014) and Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations (Liverpool University Press, 2006, published as Mercenarios, legionaries y voluntarios en la independencia de la Gran Colombia with La Carreta Editores, 2010). He is the editor of Connections after Colonialism: Europe and Latin America in the 1820s (University of Alabama Press, 2013, with Gabriel Paquette), Informal Empire in Latin America: Culture, Commerce and Capital (Blackwell, 2008) and Militares extranjeros en la independencia de Colombia: Nuevas Perspectivas (Museo Nacional de Colombia, 2005, with Martin Alonso Roa). He is the editor and translator of Simon Bolivar: The Bolivarian Revolution, introduced by Hugo Chavez (Verso, 2009). He is an editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research and Historia y Sociedad. In addition to this sports history project he is currently working with Chaka Studio and Dr Karen Tucker on the Quipu Project (http://quipu-project.com/#section-3) a participatory, interactive documentary about the unconsented sterilisation programme carried out in Peru in the 1990s, funded initially by the AHRC REACT-Hub and now by the Tribeca Foundation.  

27 January Convict Labour in Late Colonial- and Post-Colonial Latin America (ca. 1765-1898)

Christian de Vito (Leicester/IISH)

Abstract: What were the functions of convict labour in late 18th- and 19th centuries Latin America and the Caribbean? What was the place of convict labour within the multiple (free and unfree) labour relations that characterized various Latin American and Caribbean contexts? What kind of continuities and discontinuities in punishment, labour relations and colonization can we observe between the late-colonial and the post-colonial period from the perspective of convict labour? The paper will address these questions through references to the territories that presently belong to the states of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. It will be based on extensive research in the Spanish archives, and on a broad survey of the secondary literature in Spanish and English.
Bio: Christian G. De Vito, PhD (2008), is Research Associate on the ERC-project 'The Carceral Archipelago. Transnational circulations in global perspectives, 1415-1960' (University of Leicester), and Honorary Fellow at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam. See also: https://leicester.academia.edu/ChristianGDeVito

10 February Sixty-One Days at Sea: Fishermen, their Rafts, and Regional Identity in the Brazilian Northeast

Courtney Campbell (Institute of Historical Research)

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the ways in which Brazilians from several walks of life debated their place within their region, nation, and world when confronted with intense national and international change. I focus on the journey of four fishermen, or jangadeiros, who protested their labor conditions by traveling nearly 2,000 kilometers for 61 days from Fortaleza to Rio de Janeiro on a rustic sail-raft called a jangada. The jangadeiros set out from the Northeast – a region at the time defined by intense drought, but often described in terms of its racial miscegenation, limited industrial development, troubling infant mortality rates, and cultural ‘backwardness’. Their story inspired a media storm in newspapers, music, poetry, intellectual essays, and national and international film and gave Northeasterners from distinct social classes the opportunity to discuss and debate their place in the nation and the world. This examination demonstrates that regional identity formation was not just the turf of elite intellectuals and state actors, but also of workers (in this case, jangadeiros), journalists, popular artists, and international cultural intermediaries, who successfully drew upon historical and romantic notions of the Northeastern fisherman, incorporating their narrative and their struggle into the national and international spheres.

Bio: Courtney J. Campbell is a Past & Present Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. Her primary research interests are in modern Brazilian cultural and intellectual history, particularly in understandings of the place of the Northeastern region within modern understandings of Brazilian national identity. She is also director of a British Library Endangered Archives Programme project in the Brazilian state of Paraíba. Courtney received her PhD from Vanderbilt University in 2014.

24 February From the Chinese Guan to the Mexican Chocolatero: A Tactile History of the Transpacific Trade, 1571-1815

Meha Priyadarshini (European University Institute)

Abstract: The paper builds on of Meha’s doctoral thesis, which focuses on the Manila Galleon Trade (1571-1815). It offers a narrative of the trajectory of Chinese porcelains from the point of production in China, to the place of its export in Manila, and to the final point of eventual consumption in Mexico. The underlying theme is a study of the appropriation of Chinese designs into a local, colonial pottery tradition in Mexico analyzed through the production of porcelain in Jingdezhen, China and earthenware in Puebla. Thus the paper compares the two sites of production and the different ways in which the artisans in each site participated in early modern trade.Framed in an investigation of the formation and development of an early modern trade network the paper highlights the interaction between global material forces and local history and contingencies. It also provided details about the movement and transfer of aesthetics in the early modern world. Further the paper elaborates on the question of whether the ceramic production in Puebla can be considered another case of ‘import substitution’ as argued by global economic historians for the production of blue and white ceramics in Europe (Berg, Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain, OUP, 2005)

Bio: Meha Priyadarshini is a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. She has a PhD in history from Columbia University.

10 March Surveying Nature in Late-Colonial Central America

Sophie Brockman (Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London)

Abstract: This paper explores the way in which information about nature was created in the Audiencia of Guatemala (c. 1780-1810). I will show how geographical and natural-historical knowledge was deeply shaped by traditional administrative practices, but that these practices were also interpreted in new ways in this period as administrators, priests and merchants mapped terrain, prospected for medicinal plants, and developed new infrastructure and agricultural initiatives. Information about landscapes and nature was drawn together for a variety of purposes that blended utility to the state and expressions of ‘Creole consciousness’ with economic and scholarly aims. These new practices were supported by the publication of a Creole-led newspaper (the Gazeta de Guatemala) which created new avenues for communication, and new travel routes were opened in the wake of imperial reforms and economic changes. Focusing on a core group of intellectuals around the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País in Guatemala City, this paper will explore the interrelated worlds of scholarly, administrative, and economic activity in late-colonial Central America.
Bio: Sophie Brockmann is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London. She holds a PhD in History of Science from the University of Cambridge. Before coming to the ILAS, she held a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and has previously been a visiting scholar at the John Carter Brown Library, the Newberry Library, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She is currently developing the manuscript for her first monograph, provisionally entitled Surveying Nature in Central America, 1770-1840, and is also working on a second project on the history of archaeology in twentieth-century Central America.

24 March The Politics of Giving in the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. Donors, Lenders, Subjects and Citizens

Viviana Grieco (University of Missouri at Kansas City)

Abstract: The Politics of Giving discusses Spanish imperial state finance through the study of donativos, the donations given to the crown at times of war.  Grieco argues that donativos functioned as legitimate channels through which subjects advanced multiple claims vis-à-vis their king.  Versatile but ambiguous, subjects utilized these conduits as an entry point to rights while the king administered donativo-based rewards to promote individuals and groups that best served his aims. While opportunities for bargaining emerged at critical times in the fiscal realm, their outcomes bound king and subjects together politically over the long run.  Thus, the Spanish monarch financed his policies and simultaneously modified a hierarchical social order in dialogue with his subjects.  In the process, donors legitimately obtained economic, political, and social rewards.  While focused on the viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata between 1790 and 1810, this book discusses the political culture of the Spanish empire and challenges the assumption that the Spanish monarchy deployed over the Atlantic an absolutist, corrupt, and extractive system in which subjects had no voice.
Bio: Viviana L. Grieco received her doctoral degree from Emory University and serves as an Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.   She is currently working on a project on the role of merchants and merchant cultures in transition from empire to nation in the Rio de la Plata.