“I Carry the Indies in My Hand”:
The Rise of the Capitalist Ecology in the New World
Hispanic Cultures I (SPAN3349-003), Fall 2018
Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
TR 10:10 am-11:25 am
707 Hamilton Hall
This course examines the rise of capitalism during the conquest and colonization of the Americas. We will take into account contemporary debates that suggest that we have entered a new geological era (the “Capitalocene”) characterized by the ecological impact of capitalism’s global expansion. The concept of “capitalist ecology” (a historically evolving field made up of nature, capital, and the institutions of political power) will allow us to identify the place of nature in the development of the modern world. The readings will trace the ideological and material constitution of commodities such as gold, silver, sugar, and pearls, among others, which comprised a transatlantic network of economic and ecological exchange. Central to this new global economy were notions of anthropocentrism, patriarchy, and slavery, that made possible the appropriation of nature, women, and colonies. In order to identify them, we will analyze pre-Columbian mythologies and narratives from the Spanish conquest, as well as scientific and natural history treatises, legal texts, maps, paintings, and illustrated codices that describe the transformation of New World natures into the source of European power.