This essay explores the experiences of one family and one Catalan community (Begur in Gerona) immigrating to Cuba and Puerto Rico in the nineteenth century. We begin by discussing what Catalans learned about the Caribbean, because they came to possess considerable knowledge and intimacy with the region. Next, we rely on what Catalan historians have uncovered about moves to the Caribbean, particularly about Begur and the general province of Gerona, adding particulars of one local family. We explore why the youth of Begur left for the New World, introducing this new scholarship to the readers of this journal. Engaging with historians of immigration is kept to a minimum, but not ignored, since this topic is well-trod ground, saving space for explaining what occurred with this one family and community. It concludes about the specific effects such migrations had on both its participants and on the home villages in Spain, particularly on how the identity of a family evolved over multiple generations. The article demonstrates what micro-case studies of a family can reveal about migrations from Spain to the New World.
This article examines the evolving construction of the “profane” at the hands of eighteenth-century Spanish Catholic reformers inspired by a pessimistic Jansenist dualism about the body and spirit, as well as an increasing distrust of the consumerism and pursuits of “pleasure” that were becoming more characteristic of eighteenth-century Spanish socioeconomic life. The term “profane” was an elastic term that conveyed elite cultural and religious concerns and in much of the Spanish-speaking world, the primary meaning of the profane shifted from violating the sacred to that which was immodest and excessive. Spanish elites came to demarcate religion by new polarities—not by the demonic and the divine, but that which drew attention to or delighted the body and that which minimized and disciplined it. This article examines these themes through the lens of reform efforts to extinguish confraternal comedies. But in shifting the concerns about the profane from demonic idols to idols of flesh in their endeavors to “purify” worship, reformers upended the festive universe their predecessors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had helped construct and had long condoned. Thus, we cannot simply remark, as many historiographies do, that eighteenth-century reformers finally found the “mixture of the sacred and profane” intolerable and set about untangling them. We must ask instead how elites and laity defined the sacred and the profane, how those meanings changed, and how the laity and elites –particularly those who maintained an integral, Thomistic understanding of the body– challenged reformers’ new parameters of the sacred and profane.
Using testaments from Basque immigrants to the New World in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this article assesses the ways in which memory was altered, reworked, and reinforced. Basques represented a critical group of trans-Atlantic immigrants during the early colonial period, and were in high demand due to their expertise in mining and shipping industries. Settling in the New World, and often never returning to the Basque Country, their testaments document a vivid sense of emotional loss and longing, which was ironically often not reciprocated by their family members who had not immigrated. Focusing on testaments that were challenged in court by reluctant heirs, often who could barely remember the testator after decades of absence, I argue that these litigated testaments reveal a rare glimpse into the processes in which memory forked through absence, and diverged from continued lived experience. The trauma and grief of absence further contributed to this refashioning of memory, altering the ways in which Basque immigrants remembered their homelands, and the ways in which they felt tied to people they had not seen in decades or whom they had never met.
This first in a series of three articles reveals many important new historical documents relative to Alta California’s early maritime discovery, writing new chapters about its framework and complex network of individualities, while focusing on the nationality of Cabrilho and other Portuguese shipowners in Alvarado-Mendoça’s 1541-1543 fleet. This article, Part I, presents Bartolome Ferrer’s unpublished 1547 testament, where Cabrilho’s pilot-major declares to be natural (likely as in being born, not naturalized) of Albissola, near Savona (he was Genoese, not Spanish as currently accepted). Part I further critically reviews Cabrilho’s lifetime international context, and gives many examples of naturalized foreigners that were not Spanish-born, seriously questioning the over-premature conclusions about Cabrilho being Spanish-born based on W. Kramer’s documental findings.