Hispanic Cultures I: ‘Follow the Money’: Building Culture, Identity, and Power


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During the semester, we will analyze travel narratives, literary accounts, maps, chronologies, historical events, paintings, and illustrated codices from the late antiquity to the early modern period. Taking the popular expression “follow the money” as a point of reference, this course will explore the different notions of value, wealth, and money in the Hispanic Worlds from the Middle Ages to the Spanish imperial decline by the 1600s. Considering Immanuel Wallerstein’s World-system theory (2004), José Antonio Maravall’s (1986) and Elvira Vilche’s (2010) works upon the relationship between value and the cultural anxiety for wealth, and Marxist approaches to the nature of value, the course will address a series of questions related to the cultural conceptualization of value and wealth alongside the articulation of national, religious, and political identities as well as projects of empire and their decline. What is the value? Who is valuable? How did notions of value, wealth, and money change in specific historical contexts? What is their role in particular religious and political projects? These and other questions will be examined by adopting an interdisciplinary approach and combining topics related to globalization, race, religion, ethnicity, and gender. Therefore, students will acquire the knowledge of key social, political, and religious events that happened in the Iberian Peninsula and the Spanish overseas territories before the 18th century. The larger purpose of the course is to prepare students to do advanced work and develop research projects in later courses on the cultures of the Iberian worlds.

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