Belonging to the Conquerors: The Mosquito Confederation and the Competing Conquests of Eighteenth-Century Central America
The purpose of this lecture is to explore two variations on the theme of “belonging” by examining the history of the Mosquito Kingdom: an Afro-indigenous confederation that emerged in Central America’s Caribbean borderlands in the late seventeenth century and spent much of the eighteenth century waging a series of conquests up and down the coast. On the one hand, the Mosquito Confederation calls into question who belongs to the canon of American empires. Whereas traditional approaches to colonial history tend to presume that European empires had a monopoly on conquest, borderlands historians are now challenging this claim, with Pekka Hämäläinen famously declaring the Comanches of North America to be an empire on the grounds that, “they did what empires do.” This lecture argues that a similar logic applies in Central America. However, it also cautions against treating the conquest as complete, whether enacted by Indigenous or European powers. Accordingly, this lecture also examines the experiences nonstate peoples of Central America caught between these competing conquests in order to reflect on their own senses of belonging. Ultimately, this lecture demonstrates that Central American history does not belong only to the conquerors, but also to the people who vigorously avoided conquest.
Daniel Mendiola completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of Houston, and after spending two years as a faculty fellow with the NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, he is now an assistant professor at Vassar College. His research interests include borderlands, colonialism, and conquest, with Central America’s Afro-indigenous Mosquito Kingdom forming the principal topic of his dissertation and first book project, titled The Mosquito Confederation. More recently, Daniel’s research on borderlands has expanded into the national period in order to examine the ideas, policies, and practices related to bordering and migration in Central America. His most recent article: “La feminización de los derechos migratorios: Mujeres activistas y una visión feminista para la protección de las personas migrantes de Centroamérica,” was published with the University of Costa Rica in the Anuario de Estudios Centroamericanos.
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