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Lives on the move. Mobile identities and belonging in the Iberian Atlantic, 1570–1700

The southern Spanish city of Seville, which served as the monopoly port for trade with the Americas after 1503, was a hub of the world economy in the sixteenth century and a "gateway to the New World". However, only native-born Spaniards and so-called "naturalised" foreigners were allowed to trade with the Spanish overseas possessions, and not everyone was officially allowed to cross the Atlantic. Those who wanted to do so had to prove, among other things, that they themselves and their ancestors were Catholic Christians. In practice, however, there were many ways to circumvent the trading and travel restrictions imposed by the authorities. Focusing on selected transatlantic biographies, the project examines the connection between mobility and cultural affiliations from an actor-centred perspective. The main focus is on foreign merchants who settled in Seville in large numbers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to participate in the lucrative American trade. These merchants often reacted to the migration regimes imposed by the authorities with practices of dissimulation. I will examine how such practices affected the "biographical navigation" of the actors and their construction of mobile identities and senses of belonging.