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Lisa Surwillo

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic: The Nineteenth-Century Trade in Yucatecos.


When the British attempted to abolish the transatlantic slave trade in human labor from Africa to Cuba, Spanish landowners looked to Ireland, the Canary Islands, and China to fill a labor gap in their largest colony. In addition, they initiated a trade in Amerindians from the Yucatan Peninsula, a mere 200 nm from Eastern Cuba. This paper offers an analysis of a historized use of the concept of “the Atlantic,” as it was contested by British and Spanish politicians who debated, in diplomatic terms, whether or not said trade constituted a transatlantic traffic. I examine how the Spanish resisted a British view of a single Atlantic, organized by their naval prowess and ideological conceptualization of trans-oceanic connections.

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