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  • The Early-Modern Ibero-American World
  • Ralph Bauer (bio)
Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic. By Jeremy Adelman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Pp. 409. $39.95 cloth.
Nature, Empire, and Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World. By Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006. Pp. 244. $24.95 paper.
Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550–1700. By Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006. Pp. 341. $24.95 paper.
Reason and Its Others: Italy, Spain, and the New World. Edited by David R. CastilloMassimo Lollini. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006. Pp. 355. $79.95 cloth, $34.95 paper.
Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830. By John H. Elliott. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Pp. 546. $35.00 cloth.
Hierarchy, Commerce, and Fraud in Bourbon Spanish America: A Postal Inspector’s Exposé. By Ruth A. Hill. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006. Pp. 408. $59.95 cloth.
On the Wings of Time: Rome, the Incas, Spain, and Peru. By Sabine MacCormack. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. 320. $35.00 cloth.
A Nation upon the Ocean Sea: Portugal’s Atlantic Diaspora and the Crisis of the Spanish Empire, 1492–1640. By Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 250. $22.95 paper.

How modern was the early modern Ibero-American world? What was its place within the larger Atlantic historical developments of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries? What are the potential points of contact between Ibero-American studies and Atlantic studies across the disciplines? When addressing these questions, Ibero-Americanists must invariably engage a long tradition in (predominantly Protestant) historiography, which has insisted on the essentially feudal, medieval, and regressive nature of early modern Spain and its overseas possessions, and [End Page 225] has therefore tended to exclude the Ibero-American world from the larger history of Western (and Atlantic) modernity.

Following the seminal work of José Antonio Maravall, some scholars have recently taken issue with the assumption that the early Ibero-American world was antithetical to modernity and have instead emphasized the active and positive role that Spain and its empire played in making the modern world. Significantly, this reassessment has largely been carried out in the context of critical discussions of the baroque, the central focus of Maravall’s works. This line of inquiry has been especially productive for literary historians and, hence, also profoundly informs Reason and Its Others, the collection edited by David Castillo and Massimo Lollini. The “double spatial revolution” resulting from the geographic discoveries of the early-modern period on one hand, and from the infinite mathematical universe of science announced by René Descartes and Galileo on the other, is often seen as a precursor to the “oceanic and technological primacy of the English empire . . . while relegating the Mediterranean world to a peripheral role.” Instead, this collection means to “reexamine the legacy of modern western rationality from a ‘southern perspective’ ” (xvii). As its sixteen essays (not counting the editors’ introduction and the afterword cowritten by Luis Martín-Estudillo and Nicholas Spadaccini) are too wide ranging to be adequately summarized here, I will only mention a few directly relevant to the Ibero-American world. Thus, appropriating Maravall’s concept of baroque rationalism, Bradley Nelson focuses on ritualistic aspects in the writings of the Jesuit moralist Baltasar Gracián to contend that, contrary to modern wisdom, “ritual is not something that rationalism leaves behind” but is instead “at the heart of rationalism’s and modernity’s—efforts to mark an ontological break with the past” (80). In contrast, William Chandler’s very suggestive essay proposes that we think of the baroque as a “distinctive modernity” (165) and argues for the existence of a baroque “public sphere” that operates quite differently from the bourgeois public sphere conceptualized by Jürgen Habermas, a public sphere that, though not predicated on the transparency of print or coffeehouse culture, nevertheless affords venues for participation and political agency in spectacle and rumor. Thus, if the “northern” (Protestant) philosophical discourse of modernity from Georg Hegel to Max Weber to Habermas has come to privilege Enlightenment...


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