The Intellectual Conquest of the Orinoco’s Frontier: Missionaries, Nature and Indigenous Societies in Eighteenth-Century Geo-narratives
Thu, March 31, 2011 • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM • BEN 2.104
Lecture by Professor Santa Arias (University of Kansas)
Missionaries of the Orinoco articulated heterogeneous perspectives on physical and human geography that guided colonial projects of this untamed region. With their different views on nature and indigenous societies, this body of thought on the Orinoco simultaneously underpinned, contested, and destabilized colonial power in the region and the hegemonic social relations on which it was based. How did these networks of knowledge producers attempt to reconcile Catholic dogma and imperial politics? In what ways did they justify the transformation of nature for the benefit of the religious orders and the empire? How did thinkers so far out on the periphery of Spain’s global empire influence Enlightenment culture? This presentation will compare the late colonial geo-narratives of the Jesuits Joseph Gumilla (1686-1750) and Filippo Salvatore Gilij (1721-1789), and the account by the Franciscan Antonio de Caulín (1715-1802) from after the Jesuit expulsion. These geopolitical accounts of Orinoquia served in the defense of conversion projects as well as justified and endorsed Bourbon reforms at the edge of empire.