Jose Maria Alvarez Hernandez
Black African Political Thought and its Impact on British and Spanish Imperial Foreign Policy (1725-1743).
Centred around enslaved Africans deserting South Carolina to reach Florida in the early eighteenth century, this project investigates the Africans’ hitherto unexplored ability to shape Britain and Spain’s international relations. On 7 November 1693, the Spanish Crown decreed that runaway enslaved people from the Carolinas arriving in the Floridian garrison of St. Augustine would be freed from slavery, encouraging enslaved Africans to desert their English masters. This history of Black trans-imperial desertions significantly influenced Britain and Spain’s foreign policy and the outbreak of the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1742/48). Centring on the African runaways’ intellectual histories, the project explores the political, religious and ideological motivations underpinning their decision to flee. It investigates how runaways’ Kongolese and Angolan origins and Christian background, and Spain’s ties with Kongo and Angola (incorporated into Spain between 1580 and 1640-68) led to enslaved Africans in Carolina having prior knowledge of Spain’s asylum policy. Scrutinising the Africans’ engagement with Spanish policy-makers, and their desertions’ impact on the British cabinet’s decisions, the project applies a Neoclassical Realist Theory of Foreign Policy Analysis to explore how enslaved Africans turned themselves into pivotal actors in British-Spanish relations.