Contact, Colonialism, and the Intricacies of Ethnogenesis: Portugal, Spain and the Iberian Moment

Author(s): Christopher DeCorse

Year: 2018


This paper examines Portugal’s and Spain’s varied contacts, intersections and colonial aspirations in West and western Central Africa. Portugal and Spain share centuries of culture history, religion, and governance, and were united under the Iberian Union between 1580 and 1640. Yet within the context of European expansion into the non-Western world, they have often been considered distinct with regard to their histories and as foci of study. Pushing beyond national pasts, this paper contextualizes Portuguese and Spanish intersections with varied African people and polities in terms of both the wider socioeconomic landscapes of which they were part and the local conditions and contingencies that mitigated policy, and structured locally articulated social, cultural, and economic interactions. While inescapably nested in European nationalist agendas and global economy, the cultural exchanges of Portugal and Spain in Africa were characterized more by variability than by unitary templates, more by persistence than hegemonic change. Often they were expressly non-colonial in aspiration or affect. Drawing on archaeological and historical data from West and Central Africa, this paper considers the varied African-European interactions that unfolded, the diversity of ethnogenesis that evolved, and their materialities.

Cite this Record

Contact, Colonialism, and the Intricacies of Ethnogenesis: Portugal, Spain and the Iberian Moment. Christopher DeCorse. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443577)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21033