New Book | Boundaries of Belonging

Posted in books by Editor on March 22, 2023

From Penn Press:

April Lee Hatfield, Boundaries of Belonging: English Jamaica and the Spanish Caribbean, 1655–1715 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1512824018, $45.

In the decades following England’s 1655 conquest of Spanish Jamaica, the western Caribbean became the site of overlapping and competing claims—to land, maritime spaces, and people. English Jamaica, located in the midst of Spanish American port towns and shipping lanes, was central to numerous projects of varying legality, aimed at acquiring Spanish American wealth. Those projects were backdrop to a wide-ranging movement of people who made their own claims to political membership in developing colonial societies, and by extension, in Atlantic empires.

Boundaries of Belonging follows the stories of these individuals—licensed traders, smugglers, freedom seekers, religious refugees, pirates, and interlopers—who moved through the contested spaces of the western Caribbean. Though some were English and Spanish, many others were Sephardic, Tule, French, Kalabari, Scottish, Dutch, or Brandenberg. They also included creole people who identified themselves by their local place of origin or residence–as Jamaican, Cuban, or Panamanian.

As they crossed into and out of rival imperial jurisdictions, many either sought or rejected Spanish or English subjecthood, citing their place of birth, their nation or ethnicity, their religion, their loyalty, or their economic or military contributions to colony or empire. Colonial and metropolitan officials weighed those claims as they tried to impose sovereignty over diverse and mobile people in a region of disputed and shifting jurisdictions. These contests over who belonged in what empire and why, and over what protections such belonging conferred, in turn helped to determine who would be included within a developing law of nations.

April Lee Hatfield is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University and author of Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.


List of Maps

Introduction ‘In the Midst of the Spaniards’
1  ‘The Lawless Motions of Privateers’
2  ‘A Mungrel Breek of Spaniards’
3  ‘Free Negroes Must Not Be Sold’
4  ‘Amongst the White and Civilized People of the World’
5  ‘Our Holy Catholic Faith and the Asiento’
6  ‘The Trading World’
7  ‘In the Hands of Creolians’
Conclusion: ‘The Law of Nations’


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