Doctoral project: Cowlonisation: environmental consequences of the arrival of cattle in the Americas

The purpose of this doctoral project is to analyse the effects of the cattle economy on the ecosystems and relations between indigenous people, Spanish colonisers, and non-human species. I will focus on the area between Veracruz and Ciudad de México, which was then part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in the first decades of encounter (1519-1580).

Project information

Doctoral student
Franklin Martínez
Gunnel Cederlöf
Assistant supervisor
Eleonora Poggio
1 september 2022–2026
History, Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Department of Cultural Sciences

More about the project

My research project seeks to contextualise the emergence of a thriving cattle industry on the American continent, through a detailed analysis of archival sources. I will be looking at the relations between cattle, Spanish colonisers and indigenous people; the way that cattle interacted with humans and non-human species; and the impact that cattle had on the local ecosystems.

It will be interdisciplinary work, as I will be using the theoretical knowledge and methodological tools from History, but also GIS and digital methods of cartography. Ecology and Environmental History will also be a part of my research, given my study of the interactions between cattle and local species, and the modifications that these caused on the landscapes.

My research will reveal how cattle ‘invaded’ the American continent, and explore the consequences of their arrival on the social life of local indigenous communities, and on the diverse ecologies of the American continent. Arguably, the arrival of European colonisers and cattle in the American continent could be seen as the start of the Anthropocene, as an event so massive that it modified the composition of the soil and our atmosphere (Koch et al., 2019).

The project is part of the research in the Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.