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Lives on the move. Mobile identities and belonging in the Iberian Atlantic, 1492-1700

The project explores the connection between mobility and differentiation from an actor-centred perspective. The focus is on mobile actors of different origins who crossed the spatial and political-legal borders drawn by the Spanish authorities. How did these practices of crossing borders affect the construction of identities and affiliations?
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. Mobile actors 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.