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date: 18 April 2024

Nueva Cádiz de Cubagua and the Pearl Fisheries of the Caribbeanlocked

Nueva Cádiz de Cubagua and the Pearl Fisheries of the Caribbeanlocked

  • Fidel Rodríguez VelásquezFidel Rodríguez VelásquezHistory, Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
  •  and Oliver AntczakOliver AntczakUniversity of Cambridge

Summary

The island of Cubagua, known since the end of the 15th century as the “Island of Pearls,” is a small semi-arid island located in the southeastern Caribbean. Pre-colonially, the island formed part of an extensive network of communication and trade that crisscrossed the southeastern Caribbean and the adjacent coasts. In 1528, a settlement on the island of Cubagua was granted a charter to establish the city of Nueva Cádiz. This city played a central role in the exploitation of and trade in pearls during the the 16th century. During the early modern period, the pearls from this area circulated widely throughout the Atlantic world and inspiredabundant depictions that helped construct notions of the “New World” and brought competitions that forged new relationships between the Hispanic monarchy and American Indigenous populations. After 1540, the city was gradually abandoned. Since, the island has remained uninhabited and relatively unknown academically. However, the history of Nueva Cádiz has played an important role in debates over heritage protection, in museum narratives, and, ultimately, in the identity of the region.

Subjects

  • History of the Caribbean
  • History of Latin America and the Oceanic World
  • 1492 and Before
  • 1492–1824
  • Indigenous History
  • Colonialism and Imperialism

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