Fields of Study: Spanish Empire, Spanish America, Bourbon Reforms, Political Economy, Political Thought, Law of Nations, Natural Law, Enlightenment, Age of Revolutions
Advisor: Jeremy Adelman
I study the intellectual, cultural and administrative history of the Spanish Empire. I focus on the eighteenth-century Bourbon Reforms, paying particular attention to the issue of commercial and administrative reform beginning in the 1740s. Rather than tracking their effects, I study the intellectual impetus that gave birth to these reforms. Hence, I worry most about tracing the debates and dilemmas that contemporary administrators faced in Enlightenment Spain and Spanish America. I study these debates both by placing them in the immediate Spanish context of their production and by tracing how Spanish administrators read, appropriated and interacted with the classic works of the European Enlightenment, particularly those concerning political economy and the rise of commercial society.
More broadly, I am interested in understanding how and why commerce became a matter of state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. My interests, hence, extend widely into the intellectual history of commerce, credit, money, political economy, natural law, the law of nations, administrative sciences, reason of state, self-interests, and republicanism. I am particularly fascinated by the question of why and when early modern empires ceased to believe that bullion was equivalent to wealth. What were the implications of this conceptual transformation? The implications of this transformation were particularly significant in the Spanish Empire, whose economic system had been built on the extraction of mineral wealth from the New World. My dissertation begins where the identification between bullion and wealth ended in Spain. If not to extract bullion, what was Spain to do with such vast territory in the New World? My dissertation attempts to answer how Spanish administrators of the eighteenth century dealt with this troubling question.
For more information see my website here.