October 9 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Room 206 Ingraham Hall
“This talk charts the emergence of a new discourse of circulation in colonial Mexico during the period of the Iberian Union (1580-1640), when Spain and Portugal were unified under a single crown. Rather than unified, this discourse splits into two logics. The first circulatory logic, which I call infrastructure, focuses on the construction of durable structures like forts, ports, and roads that served to extend, accelerate, regularize, and secure commodity flows across vast distances and varied terrains. These sites of investment by the colonial state and local elites were aimed at making circulation governable, especially with regard to key commodities like Mexican silver and African slaves. The second logic, which I call fugitivity, names those forms of mobility characterized by ungovernability. During the period in question, this second logic became increasingly associated with the figure of the cimarrón (maroon or runaway slave). These two circulatory logics intersect along the camino real (royal highway) between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz, where wagon convoys transporting silver and other valuable commodities were raided by bands of cimarrones, thus interrupting the flow of global commerce at an important chokepoint. By zooming in on these moments and the response by the colonial state and plantation owners, this paper highlights the material infrastructures that violently tied the world system together and the processes by which early modern theories of circulation became racialized.”
Daniel Nemser is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. His current research focuses on colonial Latin American studies, critical race and ethnic studies, and the history of capitalism. He is the author of Infrastructures of Race: Concentration and Biopolitics in Colonial Mexico (University of Texas Press, 2017), which traces the long history of spatial concentration as a technique of colonial governance, and has published articles in journals like Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Política Común, and Colonial Latin American Review.