Final Public Oral Exam: John Paniagua

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
June 1, 2022 - 10:00am
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam

The Amerindian Antilles, 1492-1800


Wendy Warren, co-adviser
Vera Candiani, co-adviser
Jeremy Adelman
Javier Guerrero
Andrés Reséndez, University of California, Davis

Location (Hybrid):

Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building - A12 (RSVP required) or Zoom


The Amerindian Antilles demonstrates how a focus on survival pattern and social reproduction decenters extinction as the primary means by which we understand Caribbean history. Early Spanish Caribbean colonization relied on forced migrations and the breakup of domestic units that created thousands of deracinated indigenous survivors uprooted from their communities and culture. By 1550, Taíno indigeneity had been destroyed and a vast swathe of Indians from across the Americas were amalgamated within vague socio-legal categories or written into Caribbean records as black or African. Indigeneity no longer defined the Caribbean despite the persistence of indigenous peoples.

Five chapters explain how the processes of deracination, dispossession, and displacement inaugurated by the Spanish were then altered or magnified by English and French colonization. Chapters 1 and 2 describe the peopling of the Caribbean and assess how forced relocation and labor along with the spread of disease destroyed Taíno society while producing deracinated indigenous survivors. Chapter 3 explains how two forms of indigeneity coexisted in tension in colonial Cuba: a history of rootedness and a history of diaspora and dispersal. Where Taíno population density had been highest, deracinated Indians recohered in protected pueblos and attempted to persist with varying degrees of success. Additionally, an analysis of over 17,000 death entries spanning from 1600-1800 reveals that indigenous peoples from across the Americas lived in Cuba. Chapter 4 explains how Caribbean indigeneity shaped and was influenced by maroonage and creolization in colonial Jamaica. Indians lived and labored alongside peoples of African descent, and together as maroons their movements, networks, and aspirations caused anxieties among colonists seeking to control a population that vastly outnumbered them.

Simultaneously, analysis of 7,000 baptismal records reveals that indigenous ancestry figured prominently in the island’s mixed-race population. Lastly, chapter 5 tests the value of using survival pattern as a lens for understanding Caribbean colonization. It explains how the Kalinago of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Christopher’s, and Dominica were able to socially reproduce and persist against the forces of colonization by forming alliances with mainland Indians, staying mobile with canoes and other vessels, and raiding European colonies for captives and goods.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Non-Princeton community members are asked to attend virtually using Zoom. Princeton in-person attendees are asked to submit the RSVP form prior to attending.

Area of Interest: 
Colonialism & Post Colonialism
Imperial History
Indigenous History
Native American
Race & Ethnicity
Social History
Latin America and the Caribbean
North America
15th & 16th Centuries
17th & 18th Centuries