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Runaway Ecologies: Rethinking Empire, Insurgency, and Nature in the Early AtlanticIn the first decades of the sixteenth-century Caribbean, scores of Taíno and African people experiencing enslavement and other forms of dispossession managed against steep odds to establish autonomous settlements at a remove from colonial Spanish enclaves. Over the same period, in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, enslaved Africans of diverse origins on the Portuguese-claimed island of São Tomé devised individual and collective pathways of liberation beyond their conditions of bondage. In response, enslavers and colonial officials in both settings implemented measures of counterinsurgency while employing Iberian discourses of nature that depicted the strongholds of runaways as “wild” and inaccessible spaces. How might the historic role of fugitive collectives appear in a different light if we consider the ways in which runaways played a part in shaping contact-era island environments? More broadly, how does weighing the impact of initiatives of escape from enslavement on both sides of the Atlantic at an early critical juncture of colonization alter our understanding of the relationship between empire, insurgency, and nature? In pursuing such questions, this talk develops the concept of “runaway ecologies”: environments in which self-emancipated collectives fortified their autonomy by capitalizing on, among other ecological shifts ensuing from colonization, the proliferation of feral creatures such as hogs and bovines. Drawing from administrative, legal, and literary records, Rocha argues that early modern Portuguese and Spanish strategies of counterinsurgency and their attendant discourses of nature offer evidence of the formative impact of runaways on the contours of early Iberian Atlantic colonization, paving the way for future struggles for liberation on both sides of the ocean.This event is free and digital. Registration is required to attend. You will receive a secure livestream link to the email you registered with on the day of the event.We will have live closed captioning throughout the event. The event will be recorded and uploaded to our Youtube channel afterwardsAbout Gabriel de Avilez RochaGabriel de Avilez Rocha is the Vasco da Gama Assistant Professor of History and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University. His research centers on the social and environmental histories of colonialism and slavery in the early Atlantic world. Under contract with University Pennsylvania Press, his book manuscript, “The Atlantic Acceleration: Making Empire from the Global Commons,” examines how popular struggles over shared ecologies shaped the Iberian Atlantic colonial circuit during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His articles and essays have appeared in the Colonial Latin American Review, Early American Studies, Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, and other volumes and publications

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ACMRS was established in 1981 by the Arizona Board of Regents as a state-wide research unit.u00a0Our mission is to enable and promote the most expansive, creative, and daring scholarship in medieval and renaissance studies. We do this not only by fostering a vibrant intellectual community for the faculty at our three universities, but also by publishing forward-looking, vanguard research through our in-house press. ACMRS promotes work that is historically grounded and theoretically expansive, with the aim of advancing dialogues that reach into the present moment and point us to different, more inclusive, futures. Moreover, we develop projects that explore complex topics in an accessible manner so as to reach as wide an audience as possible. In keeping with the ASU charter, we believe that our success in realizing this vision for pre-modern scholarship should be judged not by whom we exclude, but whom we include, and how they succeed.

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