Why focus on the late 18th to early 20th centuries?



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An interesting question was posed during the presentation of our project at the Latin American History Seminar of the University of Oxford convened by our colleague Prof Eduardo Posada-Carbó : ‘Why are we focusing our research on the late 18th to early 20th century and not in the early modern era?’

The meeting was well attended both in terms of quantity and quality of people – a mix of early career and veteran scholars, including Prof Alan Knight and Sir John Elliott – resulting thus in a positive, engaging and far-reaching discussion.

The emerging answer was that, while it is true that there were sporadic cases of interaction between the Hispanic and Anglo worlds earlier in history (the example of the first English translation of Don Quixote in the 17th century was mentioned), these contacts tended to take place at the highest level of the educated elites whereas from the late 18th century we can find an ever increasing number of contacts and entanglements in all sort of activities and levels of society. Interestingly, these interactions took place amid, and to an extent despite, enormous political, economic, cultural and technological disruptions.

The growing number of names being listed in the Individuals page of this website as well as the thematic material appearing under Networks and Communities within a few weeks since the launch of the project are substantiating this view.

We should, however, remain in dialogue with early modern historians who may draw conclusions differing from our own as also, indeed, with late 20th century historians – and shall we dare to say those who consider themselves present-day historians – who may perhaps at some stage also want to bring forward a case for embracing the Hispanic-Anglosphere as a useful conceptual framework for research.

(Photos kindly taken by Juan Ignacio Neves




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