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Iberians, People of the Americas, and Africans

Lecture powerpoint


  • To what extent is our view of pre-1519 Meso-America crucial to our understanding of the Conquest of the Americas?
  • How does our view of fifteenth-century Spanish society influence our understanding of the Conquest of the Americas?
  • How did Iberians’ ongoing involvement with the African continent shape the Iberian encounter with the Americas?

Required Seminar Reading

Any TWO of:

  • León Portilla, Miguel, “Meso-America before 1519,” in Leslie Bethell, ed., The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 1, pp.1-36. (E-book at Library)
  • Leo Garofalo, “The Shape of a Diaspora: The Movement of Afro-Iberians to Colonial Spanish America,” in Africans to Spanish America: Expanding the Diaspora, eds. Sherwin K Bryant, Rachel Sarah O’Toole, and Ben Vinson (University of Illinois Press, 2012), pp. 27-49 (e-book at library)
  • Elliott, John, ‘The Mental World of Hernán Cortés,’ Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 17 (1967), pp. 41-58.

Additional Readings

  • Walter D. Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America (Blackwell, 2005), “Preface: Uncoupling the Name and the Reference,” and Chapter 1, “The Americas, Christian Expansion and the Modern/ Colonial Foundation of Racism,” pp. 1-50. [e-book at Library]
  • Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Slavery, Freedom and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2011), chapter 1: “Slavery and Iberian Colonisation,” pp. 9-51. There are a large number of print books as well as several e-books in the library. Some of the e-books are restricted to one user at a time, but others are accessible by multiple students at once.
  • Elliott, John, ‘The Ordering of Spain: The Church and the Faith’ in Imperial Spain, 1469-1716 (London, 1963), pp. 87-99.
  • Fuentes, Carlos, The Buried Mirror (London, 1992), pp. 15-147, Parts I and II: ‘The Virgin and the Bull’ and ‘The Conflict of the Gods’.
  • Jaime, Lara, Christian Texts for Aztecs (Notre Dame, 2008), Ch.2: ‘Liturgical reforms’.
  • Kamen, Henry, Spain 1469-1715 (New York, 1983), pp.1-61, Ch. 1: ‘The Catholic Monarchs 1469-1516’.
  • León-Portilla, Miguel, ‘Those made worthy by divine sacrifice: The faith of ancient Mexico’, in Gary H. Gossen, ed., South and Meso-American Spirituality: From the Cult of the Feathered Serpent to the Theology of Liberation (New York, 1993), pp. 41-65.
  • Sweet, James H. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

    Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. CUP, 1998 (2nd ed.)