We usually think of the European expansion of the early modern era in terms of military conquest and violent occupation. However, another dimension of this historical process, the limitation of violence, has attracted little attention to the researchers. This project does not aim to whitewash the history of the Iberian empire's construction, ignoring its violent dimension, but to better understand this phenomenon by analyzing how the limitation of violence was attempted in the global frontiers of the Iberian empires. The Portuguese and the Spanish (as well as English, Dutch, etc., after them) carried out a frequent use of violence in their interactions with American, African, and Asian societies with which they contacted along the seventeenth century. However, its survival outside the old continent greatly depended on its capacity to go beyond the paroxysmal violence that frequently shaped the first contacts, and above all, to establish limits on its practice. Sometimes, these attempts to agree on shared rules that would serve to limit violence clashed against a key obstacle: deep cultural divisions.

As the intense global connections generated new ways of trans-cultural violence, these connections also created the need to find new ways to limit them. The main objective of this project is to explain how violence was contained in the global frontiers of expanding Iberian empires. To reach that objective, different processes of escalation and de-escalation of intercultural violence in different settings (from North Africa to Southeast Asia) that allow us to understand how the resulting societies of the Iberian expansion developed mechanisms to contain intercultural violence from below.

Principal investigator José Miguel Escribano Páez

Website of the project