- HSSB 4020
Edgardo Pérez Morales (Assistant Professor, History Department, USC), presents "Slavery, Irreverence, and Sovereignty in the Revolutionary Caribbean" as part of the History Department's Colloquium on Latin American and Caribbean History.
Cartagena de Indias, on the north coast of today's Colombia, declared independence from Spain and extended citizenship to free men of color between 1812 and 1815. Hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sailors flocked to this port town, where they obtained nominal citizenship and jobs as privateers—pirates with a license to attack Spanish shipping out at sea. Because Cartagena leaders saw their privateering policy as an “act of sovereignty,” this talk asks how exactly common sailors—the main protagonists of this story—embodied political sovereignty at sea and on land. Cartagena’s privateers throw into relief the history of sovereignty as practice; these maritime workers used irreverent talk, ambivalent political belonging, and dynamic connections with the Republic of Haiti to build the first Spanish American experiment in maritime republicanism. This untold story may thus reveal the origins of multi-ethnic, plurilingual and border-crossing citizenship.