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Products for grant RA-50038-06

Postdoctoral Fellowships
Ronald Hoffman, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

Grant details:

Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740 (Book) [show prizes]
Title: Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740
Author: Mark G. Hanna
Abstract: Analyzing the rise and subsequent fall of international piracy from the perspective of colonial hinterlands, Mark G. Hanna explores the often overt support of sea marauders in maritime communities from the inception of England's burgeoning empire in the 1570s to its administrative consolidation by the 1740s. Although traditionally depicted as swashbuckling adventurers on the high seas, pirates played a crucial role on land. Far from a hindrance to trade, their enterprises contributed to commercial development and to the economic infrastructure of port towns. English piracy and unregulated privateering flourished in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean because of merchant elites' active support in the North American colonies. Sea marauders represented a real as well as a symbolic challenge to legal and commercial policies formulated by distant and ineffectual administrative bodies that undermined the financial prosperity and defense of the colonies. Departing from previous understandings of deep-sea marauding, this study reveals the full scope of pirates' activities in relation to the landed communities that they serviced and their impact on patterns of development that formed early America and the British Empire.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-1-4696-179
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

“A Political Ecology in the Early Spanish Caribbean” (Article) [show prizes]
Title: “A Political Ecology in the Early Spanish Caribbean”
Author: Molly A. Warsh
Abstract: In a 1529 debate over the introduction of a dredge into the Caribbean pearl fisheries, fishery residents emphasized the superior technique of indigenous pearl divers. Whereas a dredge moved blindly along the ocean floor, indigenous crews could locate oyster banks by listening for oysters’ noisy underwater “rooting.” This description reflected residents’ careful attention to their sustaining habitat. In their opposition to several devices proposed over the course of the sixteenth century, Pearl Coast inhabitants offered their own understandings of how the region’s marine ecosystem functioned in relationship to circum-Caribbean patterns of commerce and labor. The political ecology elaborated on the Pearl Coast compelled the Spanish crown to consider the nature of its new world empire.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: William and Mary Quarterly
Publisher: Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492–1700 (Book)
Title: American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492–1700
Author: Molly Warsh
Abstract: Pearls have enthralled global consumers since antiquity, and the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella explicitly charged Columbus with finding pearls, as well as gold and silver, when he sailed westward in 1492. American Baroque charts Spain's exploitation of Caribbean pearl fisheries to trace the genesis of its maritime empire. In the 1500s, licit and illicit trade in the jewel gave rise to global networks, connecting the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean to the pearl-producing regions of the Chesapeake and northern Europe. Pearls—a unique source of wealth because of their renewable, fungible, and portable nature—defied easy categorization. Their value was highly subjective and determined more by the individuals, free and enslaved, who produced, carried, traded, wore, and painted them than by imperial decrees and tax-related assessments. The irregular baroque pearl, often transformed by the imagination of a skilled artisan into a fantastical jewel, embodied this subjective appeal. Warsh blends environmental, social, and cultural history to construct microhistories of peoples' wide-ranging engagement with this deceptively simple jewel. Pearls facilitated imperial fantasy and personal ambition, adorned the wardrobes of monarchs and financed their wars, and played a crucial part in the survival strategies of diverse people of humble means. These stories, taken together, uncover early modern conceptions of wealth, from the hardscrabble shores of Caribbean islands to the lavish rooms of Mediterranean palaces.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:
Publisher: Omohundro Institute/University of North Carolina Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-1-4696-389
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes