Specialized Themes

Through the Ocean: the Ibero-American Empires and the Circulation of Goods, People and Ideas
Session code
Date Time
Thursday, August 25th / 14.00-17.30
Junia Furtado
Collegium Novum, C3

This panel brings together researchers of the Iberian-American empires to discuss the circulation and integration between the metropoles located in Europe and their respective colonies situated in the Americas. From the fifteenth century, Portugal and Spain faced the vast Atlantic Ocean and during this process, America was “discovered” by Spain and Brazil by Portugal. The colonization of the Americas that started just after revealed other people, other products and other knowledge, all of which are called "new" because they were relatively unknown and raised new challenges to the Europeans. The Atlantic Ocean became a privileged space for contact, transit and interaction between these distant spaces. Portugal and Spain remained, in the centuries that followed, the main actors. This enterprise involved countless agents from the most diverse social strata, who were employed in the most diverse functions and worked to connect the different nodes along the commercial routes that were established. The aim of this panel is to problematize the transit of goods, people, objects, practices and knowledge between the European and the American worlds, in the way in, as in the way out, to challenge the notion that it flows only into one direction, that is, from Europe to America. The idea that there existed a single center, the Iberia Peninsula, is questioned. The notion that there was a single fixed direction is also questioned; that is, while spices and primary products departed from the colonies towards the Iberia Peninsula, from this point flowed the manufactured products, specialized knowledge and practices. As a result, Iberian ships, as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean waters, became, on their way in and on their way back, true caravels of goods, people and culture.