Mexico, Guanajuato

Being at the “Heart of the World”: The Pacific World in the Making of Creole America (1513 – 1680) (Dissertationsprojekt)


ZI Lateinamerika-Institut



My Ph D project analyses how the relationship between colonial Mexico and the Pacific area influenced spatial representations of New Spain and the formation of Creole identities during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Although the development of a Creole intellectual tradition has been well-documented, the effect of the viceroyalty’s place as in-between Europe and Asia in this process is hardly understood. Historians have mainly focused on Mexico’s internal circumstances and its Atlantic connections, as such obscuring how the Pacific world became notably present in the experienced collective reality of those living in New Spain. Studying the process of the making” of America through these connections to the Pacific area in general and South East Asia in particular, my study seeks to bridge the gap between Mexican and Pacific historiography. For this purpose, the project has two overarching aims: first, it will examine what knowledge agents were involved in the production of knowledge about the Pacific and what discourses they formed in letters, treatises and collections; second, it will place this knowledge and its compilers in historical context, concentrating on the “communicative” and “epistemic” space, as well as on social and political circumstances, to establish how identities and territories were produced. The theses departs from the idea that the production of knowledge was situated in everyday life and especially in the functioning of the Spanish imperial state apparatus. Therefore, it does not focus merely on institutionalised scholarship but also on other types of knowledge agents and their particular narratives, which at times lacked all authority or salience, that contributed and interfered with scholarly discourses in America and Europe. Next to published treatises other primary materials will be analysed, such as private correspondence, expedition reports, and unpublished manuscripts that circulated between the New and the Old World. In addition to written sources, various types of objects, such as maps, drawings, instruments, and natural and human artefacts will be used as well.