2008-2009 Program

“Crossroads of Globalization”

The second year program will focus exclusively on the Iberian Empire but expand the Seminar geographically:  Manila, Goa, Macao, Nagasaki, Havana, Vera Cruz, Salvador de Bahia, Sao Paulo, and Santa Fé and may include Mozambique and Mombassa in East Africa.  The Iberian focus allows for greater points of continuity for examining the varieties within a single European experience, while the geographic shift prompts new levels of analysis of hot spots and the regions they served.


Crossroads of Globalization

Manila became one of the most important hot spots in the entire world.  The primary settlement of the Spanish Empire in Southeast Asia, Manila was the anchor of the Spanish galleon trade in American silver.  Silver traded in Manila for Chinese silk and Southeast Asian spices fueled the commercialization and urbanization of the Chinese and Southeast Asian economies in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.  It also engaged the local population into new cultures and economies, and stimulated the migration of over 30,000 Chinese to Manila by 1650, which added a new economic and cultural mix to the city.  Manila connected the Americas to Asia, and impeded the globalization of other areas, such as California, which Spain purposefully stayed away from, in order to deter European interlopers from being attracted there and thus to the Manila-Acapulco trade route.


Capital of the “State of India,” Portugal’s empire in Asia, Goa played a key role in international commerce, and both ecclesiastical and political administration. The “Rome of the Orient,” from Goa missionaries were sent to China and other parts of Asia. The city also was the major supply station for Portuguese warships and merchant vessels returning to Europe from Asia. Goa’s political reach into the State of Indian was limited by the vast distances over which it attempted to administer, yet it helped shape the course of the Portuguese empire.


Established “informally” by Portuguese traders in 1553, Macao became Portugal’s most important city in Asia. From Macao, Portuguese ships conducted the silver for silk trade between China and Japan, but Macao also carried on extensive trade between Manila and China, as well as with the spice islands. Moreover, Macao was the main conduit for Portuguese diplomatic relations with much of Asia, and carved an existence in which the city was largely self-governing.


Founded before the sixteenth century, Nagasaki was one of several Japanese ports engaged in East Asian and Southeast Asian trade networks.  Growing numbers of Europeans began arriving late in the century.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s concern with Christian influence led him to restrict European trade primarily to Nagasaki.  After the Spanish were forbidden to trade and the English lost interest, the Chinese and Portuguese remained active at Nagasaki, the principle port of foreign trade with Japan. Following purported involvement in the Shimabara Rebellion (1637), the Portuguese were expelled and Dutch traders joined the Chinese in Nagasaki for the rest of the Tokugawa era.


Havana was far removed from the centers of Amerindian population, mineral wealth, and political power in the Spanish Indies, yet it was a strategic city whose defenses protected the sea lanes from Europe to Mexico and Northern South America.  This hot spot operated on several levels—imperial, regional and local—for a variety of peoples and groups negotiating their interests.  Fleets from Spain still sailed through with European wares to exchange for Peruvian and Mexican silver.  Havana and its trade routes attracted European pirates and privateers, who hoped to siphon off American riches, while other European interlopers planted their own settlements nearby in hopes of both imitating and reducing Spanish success.  Although Havana was the linchpin of Spain’s defenses in the Caribbean, it also stood at the center of a violent and often unstable world, connected to the Spanish mainland (particularly Mexico) by commerce and the large subsidy paid to Cuba from the Mexican treasuries.  In this way the city was the key point connecting Spain to the Spanish American mainland.


Vera Cruz also served as an administrative hot spot for the American mainland, and the city had the peculiar characteristic of going through cycles of hot and cold.  The inhospitable climate of Vera Cruz meant that for long periods it became little more than a sleepy hamlet, to be altered every few years by bustling economic and military activity when the fleets from Spain arrived to exchange European goods for Mexican silver and tropical produce.  During these periods of intense commercial activity, merchants from Mexico City and other parts of New Spain arrived for the trade fair and left when it was over.  In its active stage, Vera Cruz had intensive interactions with other hot spots and regions, as its influence extended in numerous directions.


The city of São Paulo was founded in 1554 by a group of Jesuits, who established a mission in the plateau thirty miles inland from the port city of Santos, as a staging ground for converting the local indigenous population of the interior region. Through most of the colonial period, São Paulo remained an isolated and relatively poor frontier town of only a few thousand inhabitants, but it became the “gateway” for the exploration and demographic expansion into the interior of Portuguese Brazil. By the seventeenth century the city served as the staging ground for the bandeirantes, slaver hunters who ventured into the interior in search of indigenous captives to work on the thriving sugar plantations of the coast. These bandeirantes often learned indigenous languages, married Amerindian women, and explored large tracts of the Brazilian frontier. They were among the first to discover the Brazilian gold fields in the interior province of Minas Gerais, and the gold trade became a major economic activity in eighteenth-century São Paulo, connecting this rustic and remote frontier city to Europe and wider world. From a center for procuring slave labor to an entrepot to the gold mining regions of the interior, São Paulo played a major role in the socioeconomic development of Portuguese Brazil. Today the city is the economic hub of the modern nation of Brazil, with over 20 million inhabitants and a diverse economy that accounts for approximately 30% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country.


On the northernmost reach of Spain’s American empire, the Santa Fé hot spot involved relatively little in terms of trade, but much in terms of cultural exchange and military impact.  From Santa Fé, the Spanish administered a mission system that made great inroads on the cultural life of the Pueblo, while forcing the Navajo and Apache to contend with a Spanish-Pueblo military alliance.  The Pueblo Rebellion of 1680, however, compelled Spain to recast the functioning of this hot spot, so that forced cultural transformation of native peoples declined, though slave raiding and trade increased, setting in motion events that would transform the entire American Southwest in the coming century.


Brief summary of potential hot spots for the “Crossroads of Globalization” program for 2008-2009


Manila—Spanish outpost in Asia serving as a major entrepôt for trade between Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian and European merchants.  Much of the silver from Potosí and Mexico’s mines was dispersed from Manila throughout Asia.  It was a multicultural city with a small Spanish population, a native Philippino presence and a large (30,000) resident Chinese population by 1650.


Goa—Captured by Albuquerqe in 1510 and made Capital of the State of India. Served as the place to victual Portugal’s Asian fleet.


Macao—Portugal’s major city for conducting intra-Asian trade, and a key link in the silver-silk spice trade that connected Asia to Europe and the Americas.


Nagasaki—The principle port for foreign trade with Japan, particularly with China and the Portuguese.


Havana— linchpin of Spain’s Caribbean defenses and administrative center of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean.  Havana was supported by large annual subsidies from Mexico and it remained the central Caribbean trading port for the Spanish Caribbean through the nineteenth century.


Vera Cruz—Spanish administrative port city for New Spain (Spanish North America), which served as the only port licensed to trade between Mexico and Europe.  It held this monopoly until 1789, when the crown allowed imperial free trade, but it still maintained its control over the bulk of the trade with Mexico and the outside world into the nineteenth century.


Salvador de Bahia—the capital of colonial Brazil until the mid-18th century.  Salvador was a principal hub of the slave trade and the sugar industry in the New World.


São Paulo—territory that was home to the “bandeirantes,” who contributed to expansion of Brazilian territory beyond the frontier designated by the Treaty of Tordesillas, and helped to spark the gold rush centered in eighteenth-century Minas Gerais.


Santa Fé—northernmost outpost of Spanish empire in North America and the only point of contact with Europeans for numerous native peoples of the American Southwest.