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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores how people on the ground—and in the water—created a vibrant inter-imperial space in the southern Caribbean, linking the small Dutch entrepôt of Curaçao and the nearby hinterland of Spanish Venezuela. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a variety of colonial denizens developed dynamic transcolonial networks, which were influenced by intertwined imperial political, religious, and economic frameworks. These links built on indigenous ties between the island and the mainland that dated from pre-Columbian times and were further shaped by the area’s changing human geography in the wake of European colonization. While to some extent the inter-imperial space between Dutch Curaçao and Spanish Venezuela reflects unique historical circumstances, it raises several intriguing issues that are applicable to the study of borderlands more generally, particularly related to the role of smuggling, maritime spaces, and the complex relationship between overarching structures and human agency.

Keywords: contraband, maritime trade, slavery, smuggling, religion, runaway slaves

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