Institute of Early Modern History

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The Migration Regime of Spanish America (1720-1810)

In the history of migration, the colonial Spanish-American case is particularly interesting. The Spanish law forbade all non-Spaniards to settle in the Spanish territories of America, nevertheless a lot of foreigners lived there and were largely tolerated. Nevertheless, the situation of foreigners in Spanish-America was precarious. Every time a supposed foreigner could be denunciated by his neighbor and also expulsion champagnes against the foreigners ordered by the government were common.
Beginning with the reform policy of Charles III in 1767, the attitude towards the presence of foreign settlers in Spain and America changed. The population theory of the Enlightenment regarded foreign settlers as useful, so that concrete settlement projects with foreign settlers were carried out. However this positive attitude towards foreigners was questioned in the second half of the 18th century. Progressively foreigners were seen as a risk in terms of security, in particular the French migrants who were suspected to be revolutionaries and the British and Portuguese who, in times of war against Great Britain and Portugal, were regarded as enemies. As a way of supervising the now feared foreigners and creating a new method to expel them if needed, the government reformed their existing measures and introduced new ones and more efficient institutions of surveillance.
This project aims to investigate the migration regime in Spanish-America during 18th and early 19th centuries. Migration regimes are spheres of activity based on principles and laws, in which individual, collective and institutional actors try to manage migration in their favor. The project focuses on conflicts which were caused by the presence of foreigners in Spanish-America. The analysis of these conflicts allows to reconstruct the regularity by which migration processes were negotiated within the Spanish-American migration regime.
With focus on Cuba, Mexico, Río de la Plata, Upper Peru (Bolivia), and Chile the project refers to Spanish-America as a whole and not only to specific administrative entities.

The project receives support by the DFG.