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The Racial Imagination In The Writings Of (Ex-)Conversos

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Chapter Summary

The seventeenth century marks the historical moment in which Black Africans became a significant presence in Europe and its colonies. By the end of this period slavery constituted a nearly universal foundation of European colonial governance. Along with this increased social visibility came a heightened literary awareness of Black Africans. The writings of many New Christian authors on the Iberian peninsula or in Spanish and Portuguese colonial territories, as well as Sephardic authors in northwestern Europe reflect both the variety of concerns Blacks raised for Europeans and often concerns specific to Judeoconversos and/or Jews. Amerindians also surfaced in these writings, likewise playing a role in the working through of European identity. This chapter explores this literary output in light of European overseas expansion and colonialism, and the demographic and cultural upheavals they engendered. It investigates the racial imagination coursing through the mostly Atlantic-world writings of (former) Conversos.

Keywords: Amerindians; Atlantic-world writings; Black Africans; European colonial governance; Judeoconversos; New Christian authors; racial imagination; Sephardic authors; slavery



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