"Being at the 'Heart of the World': The Pacific Rim in the Making of Creole America (1513 – 1641)"
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke (FU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Bernd Hausberger (El Colegio de México), Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig (FU Berlin)
This project examines New Spain’s pivotal position on the crossroads between Europe and Asia during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Its principal objective is to arrive at a better understanding of how perceptions of this location contributed to the shaping of diverging political and cultural identities among the viceroyalty’s Spanish, creole and mestizo residents. Focussing on the spatial representations compiled by different groups of knowledge agents, the project seeks to bridge the gap between two strands of historiography that have often treated the “invention” of the Americas and that of the Northern Pacific as two isolated processes. In doing so, their discursive and performative actions are anchored within the flexible framework of Iberian political culture that united subjects of the crown through time and space. Such a trans-temporal and trans-imperial perspective helps us to analyse the strategies, symbolic imageries and rhetorical metaphors that actors deployed to contribute to the ongoing debates about the organisation of New Spain’s society, as well as those regarding the viceroyalty’s place and that of its inhabitants in the hierarchical order of the Habsburg empire. Hence, the position at the “heart of the world” serves both as an actual historical experience and a methodological point of view with which this study aims at showing how the movement of people, commodities and ideas from one extreme of the realm to the other contributed to the emergence of new ideas about the American patria and the Creole nation.