Nov 16, 2023, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
PLAS 3rd Floor Atrium, Burr Hall



Event Description

First Presentation by David Rivera, Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University

"Anxieties of Erasure and Clothing Practices in XVII-Century Spanish Manila"

At the turn of the XVII century, Manila had become a hotspot for world trade that connected Asia, the Americas, and Europe, which not only introduced a constant influx of commodities, but also allowed for the convergence of diverse communities within the city limits. It was in this environment that clothing came to be at the center of the tension between the Spanish authorities, who needed to reinforce their dominance, and the Chinese, whose presence represented a perceived menace for their projects. Thus, the study of a selection of extant letters from the period shows how the Spanish calls to ban the use of Chinese silk clothes by the indigenous population in the Philippines betray a constant anxiety of being overcome.

David Rivera is from Bogotá, Colombia. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Literature from Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). Currently, he is a third-year graduate student in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton University. His research involves the Iberian cultural, political, and economic presence in East Asia and the Pacific during early modernity. Specifically, he works on urban life, Christian-inflected material culture, speech acts and performative practices in New Spain, the Philippines, and Southern Japan during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. His interests revolve around global history, cultural studies, and instances of cultural negotiation and conflict, as well as the intersection between different languages, cultural practices, and traditions of thought between Asia, the Americas and Europe.


Second Presentation by Nicholas C. Sy, Radboud University; Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University

"Ants of the Same Color: Indigenous Construction of Colonial Enslavement in Spain’s Transpacific West"

The extant work on Spain's empire does not take distinctions between freedom and enslavement for granted. But while authors have focused on the existence of slaveries by other names, I examine a case wherein indigenous agents sought to narrowly call a slave a slave (an "alipin" an "esclavo"). At the seventeenth-century's end, indigenous elites from the island of Luzon (in today's Philippine archipelago) argued for enslavement's necessity in response to an imperial prohibition. They deployed fictional genealogies and murmurs of unrest to play up imperial anxieties at this westernmost reach of Spain's "India Occidental." Through overlaid masks of familial intimacy and colonial duty, they racialized enslavement for themselves and for their audiences. The process, however, created an excess of meaning that proceeded to haunt them.

Nicholas C. Sy is an early modernist whose work has been focused on demographic history and social institutions. He is assistant professor at the Department of History, University of the Philippines Diliman. On study leave, Nicholas is pursuing his doctorate at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. His project looks statistically and culturally at slave experiences from the sixteenth through mid-eighteenth centuries and problematizes the reductive views with which scholars have conceptualized slavery in the Philippines and the global Spanish Empire. He is here in Princeton University as a Visiting Student Research Collaborator for the project “A Digital Repatriation of a Lost Archive of the Spanish Pacific” under Christina Lee of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Cristina Martinez-Juan (SOAS University of London).

Yangyou Fang, PLAS Graduate Fellow; Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University

Clariza Macaspac '24, Spanish and Portuguese and PLAS, Princeton University

This event is open to students, faculty, visiting scholars and staff. Lunch provided while supplies last.