African Slavery and the Impact of the Haitian Revolution in Bourbon New Spain: Empire-Building in the Atlantic Age of Revolution, 1750-1808
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the ways that slaves and free blacks participated in and shaped the Bourbon Reforms in New Spain (Mexico and Central America) during the period of 1750-1808. By framing the Bourbon Reforms in this part of the Americas through an Atlantic World perspective, centered on the importance of slavery to European empire-building efforts in the eighteenth century, this dissertation argues that the politics of difference was vital to these imperial ambitions even in places where the slave population was relatively small. In the context of the slave and free black populations, the Spanish Empire determined its politics of difference on prejudices against blacks informed by skin color. Slaves and free blacks, nonetheless, actively participated in Bourbon imperial projects through litigation, forcing negotiations by escaping slavery, giving service in the militias defending the frontiers, borderlands, and imperial cities, and forging important kinship ties that shaped their identities and social networks that they used to negotiate their position in the imperial order. I argue that a pivotal moment when racism exacerbated the relationships of slaves and free blacks with the Crown was the Haitian Revolution. Although racist attitudes were already present against blacks, the Haitian Revolution demonstrated that slaves could eradicate slavery and the colonial order associated. The impact of this revolution was profound and even affected regions of the Americas that had small slave populations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College