This article focuses on the historiography of abolition and antislavery. Abolitionism is an idea, articulated through language that emerged in the eighteenth century and propelled people to act. It ultimately changed the world. People came to believe that God had endowed all humans with the inalienable right to be free and that slavery was an intolerable evil that must be abolished. Most scholars agree with this basic definition of abolitionism. But they have long disagreed about its significance and the process by which the idea led to action and political change. The discussion covers the age of gradual abolitionism (1770s–1820s), gradual abolition in the British Caribbean and French Caribbean, the age of immediate abolitionism (1820s–1860s), the French abolition movement, and the road to civil war and emancipation in the United States.
Cameron B. Wesson
This chapter examines the nature of Native American societies immediately prior to the advent of sustained contacts with Europeans in the late fifteenth century. Touching on the broad issues of social organization, politics, trade, religion, and identity, the chapter provides a general framework for understanding the uniqueness of indigenous Native American cultures. The precontact Native cultures of North America were far more diverse and complex than any of the theories archaeologists have previously devised to understand them. In addition to the knowledge gained from ever new archaeological investigations of precontact sites in North America, there is ample evidence that an emphasis on scholarly engagement with descendant communities holds the potential to reveal even more about pre- and postcontact Native American experiences.
Edward J. Davies, II
This article discusses the history of the Americas from 1450 to 2000. It describes the Americas before European contact; disease and death brought by the European arrival in 1492 due to new bacteria and viruses they carried; conquest, colonization, and settlement by the Europeans; the building of transatlantic economies; revolutions in the Americas from 1760 to 1830; revolutions and new republics that were formed; the rise of industrial economies in the Americas; migration and labor demands; the Great Depression and World War II; the global cold war from 1941 to 2000teh global economy; and globalization in the late twentieth century.
Robert W. Slenes
This article reviews scholarship on the history and historiography of slavery in Brazil. Brazil possessed a more varied slave economy with a much larger sector producing for the internal market than scholars had previously thought. The already large slave population of Minas Gerais increased dramatically from 168,543 in 1819 to 381,893 in 1872. Minas Gerais consisted of an intricate mercantile system based on slave labour that not only supplied foreign markets with hides, tobacco, and the products of a revived mining and incipient coffee sector, but also satisfied the domestic demand of Minas and of the rapidly growing Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo plantation complex for cheese, hogs, cattle, and homespun cotton cloth. An elite group of merchants in the ports — often descendants of representatives of Portuguese mercantile houses who had married into large landowning and slaveholding families — came to dominate Brazil's trade with Africa as well as its coastal commerce.
Nicholas A. Robins
This article explores the genocides of conquest and colonization in Latin America, highlighting the shortcomings of conventional definitions of genocide. According to some interpretations of the 1948 UN Convention on genocide, it is possible to have a ‘genocide’ free of death. Actions causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group are legally considered genocide, yet can be interpreted as not necessarily involving mass killing even when the object is the destruction of a group. Likewise, although in a broader intellectual context, deliberate cultural destruction, or ethnocide, and the deliberate elimination of languages, or linguicide, are also often considered genocide. On the other hand, the unintended extinction or near extinction of a people from disease, a literal genocide and what could also be termed ‘collateral genocide’, is not considered genocide according to the UN Convention.
Lyman L. Johnson and Susan M. Socolow
This article covers Spanish South America, particularly the Andean core of the empire but also a surprisingly rich historical literature on the River Plate, long a marginal corner of the Spanish Empire. The relative lack of surviving documents written in Quechua or other South American indigenous languages has prevented the development of a philological historiography analogous to that of New Spain. But increasingly informed by the work of archeologists, anthropologists, and ethnographers, historians of colonial South America have also revealed the remarkable endurance of native social, cultural, and even political practices during three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
Latin America’s communist parties were shaped by the Soviet Union’s political priorities up to 1945. This sparked debate with those that emphasized the specificity of Latin American conditions, notably the Peruvian Marxist Mariátegui. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 launched a new continental strategy, based on the guerrilla warfare strategies advocated by Che Guevara. By the late 1960s, these had failed. The election of Salvador Allende to the Chilean presidency in 1970 briefly suggested an electoral strategy to socialism, until it was crushed in the military coup of 1973. Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution opened new hopes for a Central American revolution, but this movement was destroyed with the active support of the U.S.. In 1994 the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico signalled a new phase of resistance against neo-liberalism and a rising tide of new social movements carried Left governments to power in what President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela dubbed the era of ‘twenty-first-century socialism’.
In this article, the main debates on consumption in Latin America, a topic that has yet to receive full scholarly attention, are analyzed. Current discussions tend to limit its focus to the possession of goods and public services. Historiographical quarrels comprise different perspectives and approaches that include commodity histories and the study of imports, local development, the arrival of modernity, globalization, consumer culture, and the relationship between consumption and political activism.
Matt D. Childs and Manuel Barcia
This article reviews scholarship on the history and historiography of slavery in Cuba. In the sixteenth-century, Africans crossed the Atlantic and accompanied Diego Velésquez and other Spanish conquistadors in the first expeditions sent to subjugate Cuba. Africans served in post-conquest Cuba as enslaved assistants to powerful military and political officials or as domestic servants. During the nineteenth-century heyday of plantation slavery, Cuban social and political life centred on the master-slave relation. Foreign capital and foreign political pressure — British abolitionism and United States annexationism, for example — began to shape Cuban slavery beyond the contours of Spanish colonialism alone. The transatlantic slave trade lasted longer to Cuba than to any other New World slave society with final abolition coming only in 1867.
Carolyn Strange and Jennifer A. Stephen
This article discusses eugenics in Canada and states that Canada's eugenic past was connected closely to that of the United States and to a lesser extent England. It presents numerous case studies and this body of research paints a checkered history of eugenics in Canada. It was a cluster of ideas and a disparate set of solutions that responded to local concerns, inflected by the unique Canadian demographic, and legal, political, and economic conditions. The race-based reproduction management efforts established a prior logic for eugenic policies concerned to shore up the fitness of Canada's Euro-Canadian majority. This article explains that the history of eugenics in Canada is inseparable from racist assimilationist policies and practices. The people most affected by Canada's eugenic policies were those whose sexual morality and reproductive futures appeared suspect.