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Freedom and Unfreedom in Colonial Spanish America

COURSES

Term
  • Winter
Subject Code
ILAC
Course Number
230
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Freedom and Unfreedom in Colonial Spanish America

Even as human "freedom" emerged as a dominant value in European political thought, European global expansion created numerous "unfreedoms" from direct enslavement to more indirect forms of coercion, debt peonage or social disenfranchisement according to race and gender. This course will inquire into the specific forms that "freedom" and its opposite took in writings from colonial Spanish America. While its silver and sugar production fueled the global economy, Spanish imperialism also stood out for its corporate structure, division of powers between Church and State, and emphasis on Christian conversion of non-European subjects. These competing interests and contradictions created room for debate on the justification of empire and the social structures of colonialism. The course will read important texts in these debates to determine whether it is possible to trace a specifically Iberian genealogy of freedom, conscious of and in dialogue with forms of unfreedom. Simultaneously, it will reflect on whether this mediated notion of freedom, many times emitted from unfree subjects, may provide a corrective to the idealist and Enlightened freedom that continues to be the basis for political thought today. nnCourse will be conducted in Spanish. Primary readings will include works by Colón; Cortés; Vitoria; Sepúlveda; Las Casas; Ercilla, Acosta; Guaman Poma de Ayala; Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; Sandoval; Sigüenza y Góngora; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. INSTRUCTOR: Anna More.