Decaying sweetness: Precocious globalization and the legal status of forced labour
A case study of 'Dutch Brazil', 1621-1645

PhD Project

This research project is about the legal status of forced labour of Amerindians and African slaves in Dutch Brazil from a global legal-historical perspective. Between 1624 and 1654, what is now the northeastern coast of Brazil was dominated by the colonial enterprise Oud West Indische Compagnie (oWIC), which was strategically created to challenge the Iberian empire. The Dutch settlements in Pernambuco are studied here as an interconnected colonial space in continuous dispute, integrated into the scope of the Ibero-Atlantic World during the half-century, spanning the from the 1620s through to the 1670s. By exploring the scenarios of warfare, the engenhos, and human trafficking from Western-Africa, transatlantic patterns of social mobility and submission can be traced, thus offering answers about how different and changing normativities shaped regimes of collective dependencies. By exploring the ambiguities of hierarchy relations, this project seeks to reveal aspects of how we understand not only legal-historical aspects of Northern Brazil, but also past and current events of an increasingly global society.

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