Creolization and Contraband: Curaçao in the Early Modern Atlantic World, 1634-1790


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


Using the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao as a case study, this project analyzes the relationship between processes of social, cultural, and linguistic exchange (creolization) and illicit inter-imperial trade (contraband) in the early modern world. With its diverse population, extensive regional and global ties, and rich archives, Curaçao is an excellent crucible in which to analyze the interplay between these two processes. By breaking through multiple barriers of geography, empire, race/ethnicity, social class, and gender, smuggling opened rich opportunities for cross-cultural and inter-ethnic interaction. Such extra-official exchanges were not marginal; rather, they were the building blocks of colonial societies and shaped the character of human interaction in the Age of Empires.