Alexander M. Ponsen, University of Pennsylvania
Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellow
“Conflict and Coexistence on the Periphery of Empire: The Limits of Sovereignty in the Iberian Imperial World, 1570-1650”
Alex’s dissertation examines the relationship between theory and practice in the exercise of imperial sovereignty during the height of Iberian hegemony in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Beyond highlighting the dissonant tension between the crown’s ambition and its effective rule, he demonstrates how local actors at the edges of empire – in southern Brazil and Paraguay, the Philippines, and the Zambezi Valley in southeast Africa – rearticulated concepts of Iberian law and political theory, either to affirm their obedience and belonging within the larger imperial body, or to claim authority as sources of law in their own right and defend their autonomy against the extension of crown power.