Kin of the Leeward Port: Afro-Mexicans in Veracruz in the Making of State Formation, Contested Spaces, and Regional Development, 1770-1830
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Kin of the Leeward Port: Afro-Mexicans in Veracruz in the Making of State Formation, Contested Spaces, and Regional Development, 1770-1830


This dissertation explores the lives of Afro-Mexicans who lived in the Port-City of Veracruz and its hinterland, known as Sotavento (Leeward), during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It focuses on the understudied Afro-Mexican population of Veracruz and uses it to reframe the historical and historiographical transition between the colonial and national period. It argues how Afro-Mexicans facilitated, complicated, and participated in multiple socio-political processes that reshaped Veracruz and its Atlantic and inland borderlands. This dissertation’s interventions are twofold. First, Kin of the Leeward Port resituates Mexico’s socio-political, cultural, and economic networks with the Atlantic World and the Greater Caribbean; and second, it dissects and problematizes those networks by centering the Black and Afro-Mexican experience. Blacks and Afro-Mexicans shifted the late-colonial political landscape, inserted Mexico into nineteenth-century Atlantic revolutions, and altered the political texture of Veracruz and its connections to Mexican society and the larger Atlantic World. This dissertation centers Afro-Mexicans to do more than recover lives and stories often excluded from the Mexican national narrative; it seeks to reframe the larger history of liberal politics in nineteenth-century Mexico. It seeks to do so by tracing the long, intellectual, ideological, and political traditions of Afro-descendants in Veracruz and connects them to the Black Diaspora. Through vast primary source research, including notarial records, censuses, episcopal formal visitations, Inquisition files, cartography, trade records, travel accounts, and correspondence, both personal and military, this dissertation brings together traditionally distinct historiographical periods in the history of Mexico and Latin America. It also joins three very well-developed historiographical traditions that often overlap but seldomly intersect: Atlantic World History, African Diaspora History, and Latin American History. This dissertation interrogates and subverts archival silences that have sought to erase Black and Afro-Mexican agency from narratives of identity and nation-state formation, seeking to diversify these narratives by foregrounding the voices, perspectives, and actions of Afro-descendants.

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