The painting "The tax-collector's office" by Pieter Brueghel

Project: Shaping foreignness. The effects of state agency on social categorization processes in colonial Latin America, 1590-1700

This project in global migration history investigates the role of state agency in shaping categories of belonging. It focuses on colonial Latin America, a crucial time and place to grasp these processes due to extensive migration and cultural encounters.

Project information

Project manager
Eleonora Poggio
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
1 Sep 2021–1 Sep 2025
History (Department of Cultural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities)

More about the project

After a large immigration wave, a social challenge is to understand how social perceptions and attitudes towards foreigners and migration emerge and change. How do society and political action influence the views and perceptions of ordinary people? To understand what is specific or general in present social practices, we must look back into other times and places where the key concepts have been molded and transformed.

In this three-year-project, the principal investigator explores the interplay between state actions and society in shaping foreignness in 17th-century Latin America with the help of new unique source material. The primary sources for this work stem from compositions of foreigners, a forced “settlement” between the Spanish king and foreigners who had migrated to the Americas without his license. Compositions involved payment of a large part of foreigners’ assets and the mandatory cooperation of neighbors in denouncing them. The project asks how state actions like these, spanning long periods and large spaces, affected the shaping of social categories of belonging during the early modern period. Theoretically inserted in and using methods from global migration history and community studies, it will add a new dimension to our understanding of the interaction between state and society in shaping social classification and notions of migration. It will also provide invaluable sources to grasp migration processes over time.


The project is part of:
Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies
Cluster for Colonial Connections and Comparisons

Picture at the top

"The tax-collector's office" by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (circa 1615)