José Araneda Riquelme – Connecting Worlds: The Power of Transoceanic Epistolary Communication in Colonial Lima (1580-1650)

This project explores the vital role of letters as cultural objects in colonial times. Letters were instrumental in maintaining Spanish colonial dominance over distant territories. This study examines the social, and cultural dimensions of letters, tracing their journey through various channels and spaces in viceregal Lima (1580-1650).

During the late sixteenth century, the Viceroys of Peru established communication systems to centralize Lima as main site of early information in South America. This hegemonic communication system aimed to dispel uncertainty surrounding the reception of information to/from the New World. Letters not only conveyed information but also symbolized a sense of connection to a polycentric empire, shaping social dynamics beyond their content.

This research focuses on three perspectives of letters: their materiality, the spaces of communication, and their visual representations in paintings. First, letters required meticulous construction to preserve their content and privacy, serving as symbolic portraits of their senders. Secondly, Lima hosted diverse communication spaces, including the Plaza de Armas, where people gathered to hear proclamations and rumors. Viceroys also constructed a communicational space around their own palace to (maintain guard secrecy control?). Finally, viceroys’ commissioned official portraits  included letters in the foreground to highlight their authority and engagement in transatlantic communication.Together, these three perspectives demonstrate how the Viceroys and Lima sought to establish a unique style and imagery associated with letter-writing, validating their role as interlocutors amid challenges from other colonial cities and the Spanish Metropolis.

José Araneda Riquelme

José Araneda Riquelme (Santiago de Chile, 1992) is a Ph.D. student in Early Modern History at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy. His research focuses on the study of uncertainty in transoceanic epistolary communication between Colonial Chile and Habsburg Spain, under the guidance of Professor Stefania Pastore. Additionally, he holds the position of Assegno di ricerca (early-stage researcher) at the Università Roma Tre, where he is supervised by Professor Giorgio Caravale. In this role, he investigates the circulation of books in the Catholic World, with a specific emphasis on the dissemination of the works of Luis de Granada in the Iberian World. Simultaneously, he is engaged in a comprehensive biographical study of the typographer Antonio Ricardo, who established the first printing press in Lima in 1583. He also participates as a researcher in the project “Redes de información y fidelidad: los mediadores territoriales en la construcción global de la Monarquía de España (1500-1700)” (Universitat di Barcelona).

His recent publications include “Comunicando un desastre” (Revista Razón Crítica, 2021) and “Gobierno de Papel” (Centro de Estudios Diego Barros Arana and Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, 2020). Araneda also co-hosts a history podcast titled “Las cosas tienen vida,” available on Spotify and Apple Music, in collaboration with Katherine Mills from Harvard University. He is currently residing in Verona, Italy.


OpenEdition schlägt Ihnen vor, diesen Beitrag wie folgt zu zitieren:
Academies Editorial Board (22. Februar 2024). José Araneda Riquelme – Connecting Worlds: The Power of Transoceanic Epistolary Communication in Colonial Lima (1580-1650). TRANSREGIONAL ACADEMIES. Abgerufen am 25. Juli 2024 von https://doi.org/10.58079/vvyi


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