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Transpacific: Beyond Silk and Silver Transpacific: Beyond Silk and Silver

Dana Leibsohn Smith College,

Meha Priyadarshini Kunsthistorisches Institut

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Recommended Citation Recommended Citation Dana Leibsohn & Meha Priyadarshini (2016) Transpacific: beyond silk and silver, Colonial Latin American Review, 25:1, 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/10609164.2016.1180780

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Transpacific: beyond silk and silver

Dana Leibsohn & Meha Priyadarshini

To cite this article: Dana Leibsohn & Meha Priyadarshini (2016) Transpacific: beyond silk andsilver, Colonial Latin American Review, 25:1, 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/10609164.2016.1180780

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Transpacific: beyond silk and silverDana Leibsohna and Meha Priyadarshinib

aSmith College; bKunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, Italy

Early in April of 1618, the Ángel de la Guardia and the Espíritu Santo began their west-ward journey across the Pacific Ocean. In keeping with annual ritual, they left the portof Acapulco aiming to lay anchor in Manila by mid-summer.1 Perhaps a year or twoearlier, or perhaps that very year, Adrian Boot created his now-famous view of Acapulco’sbay. His image features the rocky coast of New Spain, the quiet waters of the inlet, and a

Figure 1. Adrian Boot. ‘Puerto de Acapulco en el Reino de Nueva España en el Mar del Sur.’ Litog.Ruffoni, 1628. 22 × 17 inches. Courtesy of the Benson Latin American Collection, University of TexasLibraries, The University of Texas at Austin (M 972.71 1628).

© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of CLAR


vast expanse of ocean (Figure 1).2 Among scholars of colonial Latin American history,Boot’s reputation rests largely on his engineering work for the desagüe of Mexico Citybut he also redesigned the Fort of Acapulco. Surely no stranger to that town, Boot never-theless gave pride of place to the coast, the enclosure of Acapulco’s bay, and the placid sea.The civic center appears as little more than a scatter of buildings in the lower right, the fort—diminutive in comparison to the waterscape—perches upon the promontory. In theforeground, a man on horseback scans the bay. It may be he watches for ships to arriveor assesses the fort’s chances of withstanding pirate raids. Today, the figure also registers,at least in part, as allegorical: in casting his eyes westward across ‘the Spanish Lake,’ heembodies (and genders) the possessiveness of colonial desire.

By the time Boot created his image, the route and rituals of the Manila galleons, alsoknown as the Nao de China and the Nao de Acapulco, had been well established.3

When ships approached Acapulco, their sighting would be announced by ringingchurch bells, and the town would come alive: a runner would be sent from the port north-ward, along the China Road, carrying the news to Mexico City; inn-keepers would shiftinto high gear, prepping for the arrival of merchants; and customs officials would headout to the port. Boot may have come to Acapulco on an engineering assignment, but hewas also a colonial consumer willing to buy Asian imports.4 This suggests he knew first-hand about the ways desires and profits were yoked together when it came to the galleontrade. From the vantage of 2016 it is difficult to say whether his image sought to conjurethese ephemeral but affective relations. His view of Acapulco was—and indeed still is—animagined moment in an imagined geography.5 Boot’s image surely describes the coast, butit also presents the Pacific as invitation. Its placid waters beckon to viewers (even as theflat, calm of the ocean’s surface belies the difficulties of sailing to the other side).

This special issue, Transpacific: beyond silk and silver, was conceived with Boot’s imagein mind and, in particular, its evocative qualities. The five essays published here take thePacific as opportunity, and consider practices that have not fit easily into familiar historiesof colonial Latin America. When it comes to oceans, the Atlantic has long mattered mostamong Latin Americanists who study the early modern period. As scholarship on theAmericas has become more worldly—marked, for instance, by a rethinking of hemisphericconnections, ties with Africa, and the ethnic complexities of ‘the Spanish empire’—therehas been a measurable uptick in scholarship on the Pacific Rim across the last twenty-fiveyears.6 A good deal of this writing concentrates on trade, describing and accounting forthat which traveled upon the galleons—the silver and silk, to be sure, but also people,and documents and ideas about foreign places. Recent research has also focused on theships themselves, the patterns of labor their voyages required, and the regulations thatsought to control them. Alongside this work, there exists a burgeoning scholarship onthe city of Manila and the Philippines more broadly, and new studies of residents ofthe Americas who came from Asia and settled in places as different as Lima and Guada-lajara.7 Museum exhibitions and scholars of visual culture have also begun to offer moreexplicit accounts of tastes for and displays of Asian goods in settings across SpanishAmerica.

This special issue approaches the intersection of Pacific Studies and colonial LatinAmerican Studies by highlighting scholarship on the Pacific and Pacific Rim, the Philip-pines, and New Spain.8 The essays published here derive from a session entitled, ‘BeyondSilk and Silver: The Value of Trans-Pacific Exchange,’ held at the Latin American Studies


Association meeting in Chicago in 2014 and the conversations that framed that meeting.One point of debate that arose from the session concerned the roles the Pacific should playin new histories of colonial Latin America. And so building on that debate, two questionsunderlie this collection of essays. First we ask how a turn towards the Pacific might chal-lenge our current colonial geographies. And if a turn to the Pacific cannot do this, ourquestions continue, why should Latin Americanists turn in that direction at all?

In taking these queries as their challenge, the essays presented here—written by scho-lars of art, history and literature—set some familiar Pacific themes at the margins. This isnot by accident. While the last word has hardly been said on the galleons (and indeed,there is much still to be learned about shipping and the import-export business it sustainedin the early modern Iberian world), this special issue considers the Pacific through lensesthat are not strictly mercantile, not exclusively focused on global trade. In pursuing quitedifferent methodological paths, these essays thus represent a foray into the range of issuesand ideas that a turn towards the Pacific might prompt. Collectively, they also propose thatthinking through (and about) the Pacific makes it possible to see aspects of colonial historythat would otherwise be invisible. To read this special issue, then, is to read the ‘otherocean’ of Latin American history as we have read Boot’s image—taking seriously bothits descriptive objectives and its evocative force.

Navigating the Pacific and its recent historiography

As provocation, Boot’s view of Acapulco and its bay also calls attention to perspective, andwhat one can see from a particular site or setting. Scanning the scholarship of Latin Amer-icanists who engage the Pacific, we find far less commitment to the ocean and environ-mental history—winds and currents, storms and drenching rains, oceanic events andtheir effects— than to the events, habits of mind, and daily practices that took root onland. Because Latin America has long been understood as a place where distinctive culturaland institutional practices took shape, ‘fitting’ the Pacific into histories of the Americas hastraditionally meant assessing what happened in specific territorial locations. This is onereason that port cities and the commodities packed upon galleons have played such acrucial role in the scholarship of Latin Americanists, while the water that served asconduit, less so.9

While this special issue stresses new questions, all of the essays published here build uponthe work of others. And so we wish to sketch some of the ways recent literature in the fieldframes this collection.10 Perhaps most fundamental in this regard is the work of historians,particularly those interested in economics. For instance, William Schurz’s 1939 publication,The Manila Galleon, a synthesis of primary sources that draws extensively upon materialshoused in the Archivo de Indias in Seville, made the transpacific connection widelyknown to the English-speaking academy and remains a key source even today. Also stillheavily cited is the collection of Spanish-language documents edited and translated intoEnglish by Emma Blair and James Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1903–1907). Althoughrather less frequently referenced in the last few years, both Pierre Chaunu’s, Les Philippines etle Pacifique des Ibériques (1960 and 1966) and O. H. K. Spate’s synthetic history of Iberianexpansion into the Pacific (1979–1988) stand as important early works in the field. In muchof this scholarship, and indeed across much of the twentieth century, ‘the Pacific’ has beencode for ‘the galleon trade,’ or ‘the place and role of the Philippines’ in the Spanish Empire.


Moreover, many of these early works studied the Pacific from the perspective of Spanishimperial expansion.

In contrast, more recent (and more critical) scholarship seems to have flipped the ques-tion. Instead of investigating how the Pacific was made Spanish, scholars now tend to askhow the ocean altered the politics, cultures and economies of the Iberian and wider worlds.Pioneering this line of questioning were the economic historians Dennis Flynn and ArturoGiraldez, whose suite of essays argues for the transformative influence of trade across thePacific via Manila (1995, 1996, 2002). Defining the inception of the transpacific exchangein 1571 as the birth of global trade, their work has made the Pacific and the galleon tradestandard reading for students of global history.11 Scholars based in Mexico and Spain havealso set important terms of discussion, especially by investigating how mercantile connec-tions between Asia and Latin America affected colonial economies. In this context, thework of Carmen Yuste López (1984, 2007), Marina Alfonso Mola and Carlos MartínezShaw (2000), Salvador Bernabéu Albert and Carlos Martínez Shaw (2013), and MarianoArdash Bonialian (2012, 2014) deserves mention.

Good historical scholarship on the Philippines has long existed, but it is also possible tochart a broadening of the range of questions being posed.12 Of particular relevance to theessays published here, we might single out work that attends to circulation, such asD. R. M. Irving’s study of music (2010) or Tatiana Seijas’s on slavery (2014). Alongsidethis work there exists strong new scholarship that charts how Chinese people in Manilawere drawn into the Iberian world. This includes the impressive archival-based studies byJuan Gil (2011) and Antonio García-Abásolo (2012), and Lucille Chia’s research onChinese genealogies (2006). Writing from another perspective, Birgit Tremml-Werner’smonograph (2015) challenges conventional ideas about Manila as periphery in theIberian world by considering the city through the lens of Chinese, Japanese and Spanishpre-modern empire.

Studies outside the field of history, including those by scholars of Spanish and Portu-guese literature, art and material culture, are fewer in number (at least at present) but theyare no less important in shifting our sense of relations between Asia and the Americas.While work on the place of ‘China’ in western Europe has flourished among scholars ofearly modern literature in recent years (especially British literature), interpretive workin the expanded field of literary studies has become especially vibrant among scholarsfocused on the nineteenth century and, now, increasingly, the present.13 Yet for all ofthe excellent interdisciplinary work being done on the literature and literary cultures ofSpanish America, the Pacific of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—asrepresentational space and conceptual category—remains largely uncharted. One questionremains exciting and open because of this: will insights from the scholarship on the nine-teenth–twenty-first centuries reshape thinking about memoirs, travel narratives, poetry, orclerical and lay histories of the earlier periods, or will the two fields head in differentdirections?

When it comes to material and visual culture, examples of Asian imports and the objecttypes they inspired in New Spain, especially ceramics, have long been known.14 Neverthe-less, about fifteen years ago, the Pacific began to surface more insistently in accounts ofcolonial objects and artworks. Museums have played a key leadership role in this arena.Since 2000, some exhibitions have emphasized trade and exchange, others have calledattention to hemispheric, colonial American practices.15 Much of the research coming


out of museums tends to highlight iconography, materiality, aesthetic taste and techniquesof production. As we read the field, we see greater emphasis on China and the intersectionsof Chinese commodities with those of New Spain than we do with Japan, although we alsoknow we are describing a field very much in formation.16 To date, however, European andPhilippine scholarship often features objects created in East Asia or the Philippines, whilemuseums in Mexico often privilege works made in the Americas that reference Asia(although the Museo Nacional del Virreinato has also sponsored important publicationson Asian imports in its collection).17 In the United States, a few exhibits and catalogueshave focused on Chinese and Japanese imports and their histories in New Spain, butthe more common interest lies with Latin American products—biombos, textiles, furni-ture, and ceramics—and their contributions to broad conversations about the arts ofLatin America and the early modern period.18 In this context, two publications by theDenver Art Museum, edited by Donna Pierce and Ronald Otsuka, are worthy ofmention for the ways in which they attend to the circulation of both visual and materialculture, and the range of materials discussed (2009, 2012).

For all of this new energy, it is still early days in the transpacific field. So much so thatmost Latin Americanists still adopt lenses crafted and polished largely by Europeans orpeople who wrote in Spanish or Portuguese, even though we are becoming increasinglyattuned to other ways of seeing and other sources of knowledge. Historiographically,this is unsurprising. For scholars and students trained in institutions in the Americasand Western Europe have learned to read (or are raised reading) texts in the primarylanguages of Latin America. Yet the implications of this practice are not insignificant,as can be sensed from an eighteenth-century ivory carving of the Virgin of the ImmaculateConception (Figure 2). Ivory was amongst the many materials exported from East Asia toSpanish America. It was sometimes shipped as tusks (or segments of tusks) but more oftenit was transported as roughly carved pieces that would be touched up and assembled intolarger (often mixed media) statues to meet local demands. This particular Virgin, which isone of several known to survive, was likely carved by Chinese artisans in Manila andintended to serve as a focus for devotional prayer.

Objects such as this—which are today housed in churches and convents as well asprivate collections and museums—are familiar sculptures in the Catholic canon. Theyspeak to the reach of Catholicism, its visual culture and the adaptability of both.19

Beyond this, however, the sculpture testifies to the active network of Chinese artisansand merchants working in and around the South China Sea, and the history of their mobi-lity, labor practices and traditions. Viewed in this light, this ivory sculpture belongs to theChinese diaspora as much as she does to global Catholic aesthetics. In the absence of aprolific textual record (which, by comparison, exists in Spanish, Portuguese and otherEuropean languages), our knowledge about Chinese perspectives is more limited.20 Yeteven a cursory comparison of the ivory virgin with the Boot image makes it clear that,seen from Manila, the Pacific looks—and indeed, is—very different.

If we press the point a bit further, and consider the range of objects that were traded in,and through China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia in the early modern period, we findmuch that never made its way to the Americas.21 One part of the Pacific story, then,reinforces the links between Spanish America and western Europe, aligning residents ofBuenos Aires and Madrid as consumers with tastes that differed more in degree thankind. This is especially true in contrast to consumers in Nagasaki or Suzhou. The ivory


Virgin therefore brings us to a complicated interpretive arena. On one hand, if we look toher site of production, we sense how a turn towards the Pacific can open our understand-ings of colonial practices in early modernity, making them more worldly (or, perhaps,more ‘global’). Yet because of the ways in which objects register distinctive patterns ofmobility and foreign-ness, if we turn back the other way, to the Virgin’s site of consump-tion, we sense how restricted—how linked to the lineaments of power, religious practice,and economics—were the options and opportunities for negotiating colonial practices inthe sixteenth, or even eighteenth century in colonial Latin America. What the essays inTranspacific: beyond silk and silver explore, then, are the challenges of taking both ofthese turns, of seeing the transpacific not as the distance between Acapulco and Manila,but as a construct of multiple geographies.

Imperial geographies, colonial practices, and material goods

The Treaty of Zaragoza, signed in 1529 by Spanish and Portuguese Crowns, represents oneexample of the way in which Spain’s (quite literal) turn to the Pacific changed the contours

Figure 2. Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. 18th century. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum ofArt, New York City (64.164.243a, b).


of its empire. Yet today, the prism offered by political acts and treaties is but one of manybrought to bear on the production of imperial and colonial geographies. In this specialissue, for instance, a greater weight rests on the disparate ways in which colonial spaceswere imagined and fashioned through writing, the making (and un-making) of materialthings, both large and small, and the practices of daily life. In each of the essays publishedhere the authors find in their sources actors who have not generally been consideredimportant to the history of the transpacific. In addition to opening our understandingsof the past and thinking about the historical importance of the transpacific connection,these five essays seek to make a methodological and theoretical contribution to thebroader field. They do so by encouraging us to think about the role of this construct—the transpacific—in current thinking about colonial geographies and their imperial under-pinnings. The first three essays, for instance, challenge traditional ideas about the creation,expansion and operation of empire by considering writings produced in Spain (RicardoPadrón), war and conflict in Manila (JoAnne Mancini), and daily labor in Mexico(Tatiana Seijas). The final two essays also press at the boundaries of familiar scholarship.While geography is of no small concern, the contributions by Donna Pierce and ByronHamann ask more pointedly how the Pacific figures into histories of materiality andmobility.

Ricardo Padrón’s essay, ‘(Un)Inventing America: the transpacific Indies in Oviedo andGómara,’ studies two works by prominent sixteenth-century historians, arguing thatMagellan’s crossing of the Pacific did not actually succeed in putting the ocean on themap as we might expect. Instead, each of these Spanish writers described the expansionof the empire by minimizing the grandness of the Pacific Ocean. Padrón’s compellingargument is that in the sixteenth century the imaginary geographies created throughtext were as important as the ones created through cartographical science. In trackingthis through well-known texts, he shows how both the Spanish empire and the idea ofthe Americas were contingent upon evolving conceptualizations of the Pacific Ocean.

JoAnne Mancini shifts our attention to the eighteenth century. The backdrop to heressay, ‘Disrupting the transpacific: war, security, objects, architecture,’ is the conflictbetween Britain and Spain. Focusing on the British attack and occupation of Manila in1762–1764, her essay raises the question of how warfare makes possible both transferand interruption in the circulation of objects—from silver and Asian imports, to mapsand manuscripts, and even building materials. For Mancini, warfare therefore (and some-what paradoxically) opens an opportunity to think about the ‘convergence betweenSpanish and British imperial economies.’ In considering the built environment ofManila and the remaking of civic space in the wake of war, her essay resonates withthat of Padrón. While methodologically different, both essays suggest how imperialdesires produced distinctive spatial practices, that, when scrutinized, reveal the unexpectedways in which imperial geographies were constructed.

Central Mexico is the setting for the essay by Tatiana Seijas, ‘Inns, mules, and hardtackfor the voyage: the local economy of the Manila galleon in Mexico.’ Her study considershow the galleon trade shaped and intersected with local, Mexican practices and economies.Of all the essays published here, hers throws the strongest light on indigenous people—calling attention to their knowledge and expertise, as well as their labor. Seen throughthe lens offered by Seijas, the landscapes and topographies that bind Acapulco, MexicoCity and Puebla matter a great deal. The lure and pull of the Pacific is thus felt most


keenly in the experiences required to trek through mountain passes, build roadways, cul-tivate fields. Her work makes it clear that transpacific exchange may have involved vastdistances and grand scales, but to think only in those terms is to miss much of the realwork the Pacific created for those who lived in New Spain.

In New Spain people were also avid consumers, and desires for Asian goods were farfrom trifling. In churches and convents, and salons and bedrooms of urban townhouses,people used candles of imported wax, wore silk garments, adorned their tables withporcelains and used folding screens to reshape interior spaces.22 We think of theseimports as expensive, and often they were. Yet people who were considered poor could(and did) adorn their bodies with imported silk and pearls. Seen in this light, a primaryinterpretive challenge posed by the Pacific is not just the mobility of commodities butalso their conspicuous display. The essays by Donna Pierce and Byron Hamman bothask how we should understand the diffuse, but shared tastes for material bling and itsvisual glitz.

Pierce’s work, ‘Popular and Prevalent: Asian Trade Goods in Northern New Spain,1590–1850,’ studies inventories and archaeological excavations to assess the kinds ofAsian imports that were carried into northern New Spain. Her work addresses objectsand bodies, and the intimate ways that Asian goods inflected daily life; in this regardher essay converges with histories of gendered consumption. At the same time, Pierce’sstudy asks us to think about the fantasy—if not also the folly—required to cart a bedand silk stockings to San Gabriel or San José del Parral. By showing how the frontiersand peripheries of early modern geography felt the reach of Asian trade, this essayopens conversations about what constitutes a liminal zone and the kinds of ‘softening’habits people in the Americas invented to reckon with that liminality.

The final essay in this issue, ‘Counterfeit money, starring Patty Hearst,’ brings us tometal,and especially silver—the key American commodity for so many histories of early moderntrade. As Byron Hamann shows, however, metal—particularly in the form of coins—createdmeaning along axes that were not strictly economic or even primarily financial. Methodo-logically, his work seeks to de-center the primacy of economics as a lens for understandingboth coinage and the relations between Spanish America and China. In considering prac-tices and objects from places as different as Jingdezhen and Alaska, Hamann’s researchcalls attention to the range of values that metal could accrue in the Pacific world. Moreover,by addressing the intersection of materiality and affect, Hamann’s essay suggests how mobi-lity is fundamental to the very category and concept of ‘colonial object.’

***This brings us to one last image, a detail of a painted scene from the Boxer Codex (Figure

3), whose pictorial images document the peoples, customs, flora and fauna of the SouthChina Sea region and bear witness to the early encounters between ‘Asians’ and ‘Eur-opeans.’23 The style and iconography of the image—from the border scroll to the bodiesdepicted—point to the visual, gendered and imperial legacies that marked (and indeed,often defined) transoceanic exchange in the early modern period. In contrast to the viewof the Pacific created by Adrian Boot, the water is much more alive and we see bothvessels upon the sea and people entering the water.

At the opening of this essay, we asked why a turn to the Pacific makes sense for LatinAmericanists. The easy answer is because the ocean mattered in the past. Yet the project of


bringing Pacific Studies and colonial Latin American studies into meaningful conversationis not merely additive. This point is made clear by the woman diving through the water.Her experience was shaped and visually tracked by people she did not control, conditionsshe did not define. Yet her perspective is one no European will take. When we view thisimage today, we sense the disparities signaled by her unclothed body and those of the menupon the ship. Yet we also know that that neither party fully set the terms of their engage-ment; moreover we cannot understand their exchange by simply putting the two perspec-tives side by side (if such a thing were even possible). And so a more complicated (and, wesuggest, more interesting) answer to ‘why the Pacific’ involves thinking about the relation-ships between geography and histories of knowledge production. Such a turn also putsnew pressure on our understandings of assimilation and appropriation, translatabilityand tradition. How much a Pacific turn will shift our sense of colonial experiencedepends upon our willingness to see the ‘other ocean’ as more than an opening to laborpools and commodities. It may not come to pass, but the Pacific might just be a way ofstudying how, in the colonial Americas, people imagined, desired, knew, and evenworried about places that were forever foreign. It might also be a way to think with,and not strictly about, the very contradictions that constitute what we have come toknow as colonial history.


1. Galleon lists appear in Bonta de la Pezuela 2008, Cruikshank 2009–2012, and Fish 2011. On1618, see also Blair and Robertson, vols. 17, 18.

Figure 3. Boxer Codex. Detail of page 8, foldout. Ca. 1590. Courtesy of Lilly Library, University of Indiana(LMC 2444).


2. This image has been published numerous times in recent years. In the early modern periodversions circulated in Europe, with copies known from collections in Austria, Italy, and theNetherlands (Kagan 2000, 82; Mayer 2005). On Boot in Mexico, see Mayer 2005.

3. The first successful transpacific crossing dates from 1565. By the early 1570s, annual ship-ments of Asian commodities—some trans-shipped through Manila, others created there—were arriving in Acapulco, although some years no ships made the crossing successfully.

4. An inventory of his possessions, made when he faced charges by the Inquisition in 1637 inMexico City, lists an inkwell, writing set, and writing cabinet identified as ‘del Japon’ [fromJapan]. (AGI, Audiencia de México, 28).

5. Richard Kagan, for instance, notes that the image shows Acapulco without walls even thoughthe town was partially fortified by the time Boot created the image (2000, 81–82).

6. This point emerges quite clearly in Oxford Bibliographies, Latin American Studies. See, forinstance, the contributions by Carr 2011, Garcia 2014, López-Calvo 2012, and Slack 2014.

7. See, for instance Falck and Palacios 2009, Slack 2009, and Seijas 2014.8. Given the range and depth of scholarship on the Pacific, it is now impossible for an essay

collection to consider all of the important themes or geographic settings that figure incurrent research. This means a different, highly productive cut through the field—whichcould include materials on the Andes and the Portuguese-speaking world, and writings byscholars based in Asia or Latin America—would certainly have been possible. So, too,would a collection of essays twice this size.

9. For exceptions, see, for instance, volume 2 in the Pacific World Series, Environmental Historyin the Pacific World (Flynn and Giraldez 2002–2009) and, on voyaging, Fish 2011.

10. To the best of our knowledge, a broad historiography of scholarship on the Pacific as itengages Spanish America and Brazil in the early modern period has not been written, andwe do not pursue that valuable project here. Rather we take this opportunity to call outsome of the major characteristics of the field, emphasizing scholarship of the twentiethand twenty-first centuries focused on New Spain, Manila and transpacific exchange. Formore extensive bibliographies, see n. 6.

11. Giraldez has recently published a monograph that builds on much of this previous research(2015); see also Martínez Shaw and Alfonso Mola (2014) for a concise picture of current his-torical thinking. Other important recent literature that engages the galleon trade and itsimplications in early modern history includes, for instance, Ollé 2002, Bernabéu and Martí-nez Shaw 2013, Buschmann 2014, Buschmann et al. 2014, and Bernabeu Albert 2015. De Vitoreviews a suite of recent books on histories of the Spanish Pacific (2015).

12. For many scholars working in English, Vicente Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism: Translationand Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule (1988) was especially influential.His more recent work pushes into the nineteenth century (2005), where it has good companyin a growing scholarship interested in the fluidity of identity (Chu 2010). Early, well-citedscholarship on the Philippines includes the work of Phelan (1959). Also of note is thework of Díaz-Trecheulo (1959, 2001), and on Manila itself, Alva Rodríguez 1997, and Iaccar-ino 2008.

13. See, for instance, Porter (2010) and Yang (2011) on England. For Latin America, see essays inthe special issue of Review of Literature and the Arts of Americas, edited by Hu-DeHart(2006), but also the work of Tinajero (2004) and Chang-Rodríguez (2015). The journalVerge: Studies in Global Asias will soon publish a special issue, ‘Between Asia and LatinAmerica: New Transpacific Perspectives.’ Other venues for fresh thinking include thejournal Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, and two book series, TranspacificStudies: Framing an Emerging Field and Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. The Latin Amer-ican Studies Association’s section called ‘Asia and the Americas’ represents another recentdevelopment. None of this new energy, however, is restricted to the colonial period; infact, most focuses on scholarship written about the period from 1890–present.

14. See, for instance, Barber 1915, Cervantes 1959, the Victoria and Albert Museum 1957. For theAndes, by comparison, textiles were a primary focus of early study; see, for instance,Cammann 1964, and the bibliography in Phipps et al. 2004.


15. Compare, for instance, the exhibitions curated by Alfonso Mola and Martínez Shaw 2000,Morales 2003, and Carr 2015.

16. On China, for instance, see Curiel 2007, 2009; on Japan, see Rivero Lake 2005, and Sanabrais2015. Both China and Japan are discussed in Carr 2015.

17. For Europe, see, for instance, Alfonso Mola and Martínez Shaw 2000 and 2003, and Canepa2016. For Mexico, we might point to Curiel 1999, Borell 2002, and Bonta de Pezuela 2008. Agood bibliography, which includes the Andes, appears in Carr 2011.

18. On Asian imports, see Kuwayama 1997; for works created in the Americas, see McQuade1999, Gavin et al. 2003, and Rishel et al. 2006.

19. A key text on the globalization of Catholic aesthetics is still Bailey 1999, but see also Clossey2006. On ivory sculptures, see Sánchez Navarro de Pintado 1986, Jose 1990, Estella Marcoset al. 1997, Jose and Villegas 2004, and Trusted 2009.

20. For exceptions, see, for instance Man-houng (2004) on economic history, Fang (2006) onexchanges between Taiwan and Manila, and, on Manila specifically, Borao 2003, Kueh2013, and Crewe 2015. An early work on this topic is Felix 1996. Also understudied arethe Japanese residents of Manila and local indigenous groups as participants in the galleontrade, although see Borao 2005, Tremml-Werner 2015, and Hawkley 2014.

21. Objects that survive overwhelmingly date from the eighteenth century, so our view of whatwas desired, created, purchased and used is uneven. Inventories help fill out the picture forearlier periods and archaeological evidence is also useful. See Fournier 1990, Kuwayama1997, and Gómez Serafín and Fernández Dávila (2007) for excavations in Mexico Cityand Oaxaca. Desroches et al. describe the excavation of the shipwrecked San Diego (1996);on the circulation of ceramics in the Philippines that were not well known in the Americas,see, for instance, Tan et al. 2007.

22. The choir screen for the Mexico City cathedral is perhaps the famous surviving example ofAsian craftsmanship created expressly in response to an American commission, althoughtoday one of the best known descriptions of Asian merchandise arriving in Manila andintended for export across the Pacific is that of Antonio de Morga (published in Mexicoin 1609). Studies of inventories have also been key in establishing the range of importssent from Asia to the Americas. For New Spain, excerpts from inventories appear inCuriel (1999), Bargellini and Komanecky (2009), and several essays in Pierce and Otsuka(2009, 2012). For comparative work on South America, especially among indigenouspeople, see, for instance, Rodríguez 2002, Salomon 2004, and Graubart 2007.

23. On the Boxer Codex, see the facsimile and translation by Souza and Turley 2015.


Alfonso Mola, Marina, and Carlos Martínez Shaw. 2000. El galeón de Manila. Seville: Ministerio deEducación, Culturas y Deporte.

———. 2003. Oriente en Palacio: tesoros asiáticos en las colecciones reales españolas. Madrid:Patrimonio Nacional.

Alva Rodríguez, Inmaculada. 1997. Vida municipal en Manila, siglos XVI–XVII. Córdoba:Universidad de Córdoba.

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  • Transpacific: Beyond Silk and Silver
    • Recommended Citation
  • Navigating the Pacific and its recent historiography
  • Imperial geographies, colonial practices, and material goods
  • Notes
  • References
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