Research Programs: Fellowships

Period of Performance

1/1/2018 - 12/31/2018

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Contraband, Captivity, and the 1683 Raid on Veracruz: A History of Colonial Mexico's Transatlantic Connections

FAIN: FEL-256787-18

Pablo M. Sierra Silva
University of Rochester (Rochester, NY 14627-0001)

A book-length study of the 1683 pirate raid of Veracruz, Mexico, and the illicit slave trade that linked the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British American colonies.

This book-length project proposes a new understanding of colonial Mexico’s fraught relationship with Dutch, French, and English actors through a moment of systemic collapse: the abduction and dispersal of Veracruz’s population of African descent in May of 1683. Hundreds of French, English, and Dutch buccaneers captured and sold 1000 Afro-Veracruzanos – free and enslaved – throughout the non-Spanish Atlantic as human chattel. The labor-starved colonists of Charleston (South Carolina) and Petit Goave (St. Domingue/Haiti) purchased hundreds of these captives, yet the fates of most remain untold. Thus, this is a multilingual, transimperial project, one that can only be understood by acknowledging Veracruz’s historic dependence on contraband and slaving networks from 1640 to 1700. Drawing on an African diaspora framework, Mexican Atlantic sheds new light on an “entangled” Atlantic built on illicit trades and captivities from the perspective of Veracruz and its deracinated families.

Media Coverage

The mysterious aftermath of an infamous pirate raid (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Sandra Knispel
Publication: University of Rochester Newscenter
Date: 12/13/2017
Abstract: A brief interview about my NEH fellowship about the 1683 pirate raid on Veracruz.

Associated Products

Afro-Mexican Women in Saint-Domingue: Piracy, Captivity and Community in the 1680s and 1690s (Article)
Title: Afro-Mexican Women in Saint-Domingue: Piracy, Captivity and Community in the 1680s and 1690s
Author: Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva
Abstract: This article focuses on the experiences of women of African descent who were made captives (and in some cases, re-captives) after the 1683 buccaneer raid on the port of Veracruz, the most important port in the viceroyalty on New Spain (colonial Mexico). Although the raid is well-known to historians of piracy, its implications for women’s history and African diaspora studies have not been properly contextualized in a period of expanding Atlantic slavery. This paper proposes a close reading of contraband cases, parochial registers, slave codes and eyewitness accounts centered on Afro-Mexican women who were kidnapped to Saint-Domingue (colonial Haiti). A focus on displacement and resilience opens new narratives through which to understand women who transcended their captivity by becoming spouses to French colonists and free mothers to Saint-Domingue’s gens de couleur.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Homepage for the Hispanic American Historical Review
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Hispanic American Historical Review
Publisher: Hispanic American Historical Review