Dr. April Hatfield’s newest monograph, Boundaries of Belonging: English Jamaica and the Spanish Caribbean, 1655–1715
Dr. Hatfield reconstructs a wild world that goes beyond popular imagination in Boundaries of Belonging. In the decades following England’s 1655 conquest of Spanish Jamaica, the western Caribbean was the site of overlapping and competing claims—to land, maritime spaces, and people. English Jamaica, in the midst of Spanish American port towns and shipping lanes, became central to numerous projects aimed at acquiring Spanish American wealth. Those projects were backdrop to a wide-ranging movement of people who made their own claims to political membership in developing colonial societies, and by extension, to Atlantic empires. Boundaries of Belonging follows the stories of these individuals—licensed traders, smugglers, freedom seekers, religious refugees, and pirates—who moved through the contested spaces of the western Caribbean. As they crossed into and out of rival imperial jurisdictions, this mobile and diverse population influenced theories of imperial belonging and interpolity law.