Fringes of Empire. Dynamics of expansion and territorial occupation in the region of La Plata, 1580-1808

Fringes of Empire. Dynamics of expansion and territorial occupation in the region of La Plata, 1580-1808

The research project "Fringes of empire. Dynamics of expansion and territorial occupation in the region of La Plata, 1580-1808" will endeavour to shed new light over the historical presence of the Portuguese in the Rio de la Plata, of which little is still known. The enquiry must adopt a comparative perspective and will examine in particular the forms of exchange (in its broader meaning, which includes competition and conflict) the Portuguese entertained with other colonial powers (especially the Spanish monarchy) and with the native population. The study will unfold in three levels of analysis, which will all come together at some point. In the first place, it will try to portray the efforts made by the Iberian monarchies to occupy and control faraway and adjacent territories. Secondly, it will try to capture the logic of survival and adaptation of the local population in front of the shifts and changes that arose from those efforts and from the conflicts they engendered. Finally, it will focus on the dynamics of various social agents and population groups which intersected in the region of La Plata. The proposed study will show the complex way - complementary but also conflictive - in which these dynamics joined together with both the strategies of the monarchies and the actions of the local population. It must also bear in mind that the difficult and often opposing articulation of the interests and expansion logics of the royal powers, managed, as it was, by several administrative institutions, by diplomatic negotiations in Europe and recurrent local military movements, is intercepted by the dynamic movements of individuals and groups, which act autonomously and not always within the institutional framework. This is especially apparent in a geographic region which displayed the typical characteristics of an early-modern frontier zone: (i) the absence of clear-cut, stable and secure territorial limits; (ii) the incipient information on the territory; (iii) the availability of a set of resources that could be taken over (or monopolized) by the various participating agents; (iv) the permeability to religious proselytism, closely associated to the control over the native population; (v) the strong mobility which affects individuals, groups and the administrative and military institutions of the relevant powers.
The study will try to elucidate how the combination of the above mentioned dynamics - through negotiation, war, migration and commerce - eventually resulted in the actual occupation of the area. Although, after earlier attempts, the boundaries separating the dominions of the two Iberian monarchies in America became formally established after the treaty of Saint-Ildephonse, the region of La Plata, in the next thirty years, continued to be a stage of disparate demographic and commercial impetuses, which certainly undermined its political and administrative stability. This justifies the chronological scope of the survey.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes

The research project "Fringes of empire. Dynamics of expansion and territorial occupation in the region of La Plata, 1580-1808" will endeavour to shed new light over the historical presence of the Portuguese in the Rio de la Plata, of which little is still known. The enquiry must adopt a comparative perspective and will examine in particular the forms of exchange (in its broader meaning, which includes competition and conflict) the Portuguese entertained with other colonial powers (especially the Spanish monarchy) and with the native population. The study will unfold in three levels of analysis, which will all come together at some point. In the first place, it will try to portray the efforts made by the Iberian monarchies to occupy and control faraway and adjacent territories. Secondly, it will try to capture the logic of survival and adaptation of the local population in front of the shifts and changes that arose from those efforts and from the conflicts they engendered. Finally, it will focus on the dynamics of various social agents and population groups which intersected in the region of La Plata. The proposed study will show the complex way - complementary but also conflictive - in which these dynamics joined together with both the strategies of the monarchies and the actions of the local population. It must also bear in mind that the difficult and often opposing articulation of the interests and expansion logics of the royal powers, managed, as it was, by several administrative institutions, by diplomatic negotiations in Europe and recurrent local military movements, is intercepted by the dynamic movements of individuals and groups, which act autonomously and not always within the institutional framework. This is especially apparent in a geographic region which displayed the typical characteristics of an early-modern frontier zone: (i) the absence of clear-cut, stable and secure territorial limits; (ii) the incipient information on the territory; (iii) the availability of a set of resources that could be taken over (or monopolized) by the various participating agents; (iv) the permeability to religious proselytism, closely associated to the control over the native population; (v) the strong mobility which affects individuals, groups and the administrative and military institutions of the relevant powers.
The study will try to elucidate how the combination of the above mentioned dynamics - through negotiation, war, migration and commerce - eventually resulted in the actual occupation of the area. Although, after earlier attempts, the boundaries separating the dominions of the two Iberian monarchies in America became formally established after the treaty of Saint-Ildephonse, the region of La Plata, in the next thirty years, continued to be a stage of disparate demographic and commercial impetuses, which certainly undermined its political and administrative stability. This justifies the chronological scope of the survey.

Objectivos: 
The main objective of this project is to shed new light, by adopting a particular perspective and intersected multinational and interdisciplinary logics of research, on the modes of territorial, economic, social and political appropriation of the La Plate region, a context where international relations, namely those between the two monarchies, played an essential role. The final product of this research project will be the publication of a book, which is near completion.
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
02/01/2004
End Date: 
31/12/2008
Duração: 
59 meses
Closed