Piracy and the Making of the Spanish Pacific WorldUniversity of Pennsylvania Press The Early Modern Americas
Piracy and the Making of the Spanish Pacific World offers a new interpretation of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippine islands. Drawing on the rich archives of Spain’s Asian empire, Kristie Patricia Flannery reveals that Spanish colonial officials and Catholic missionaries forged alliances with Indigenous Filipinos and Chinese migrant settlers in the Southeast Asian archipelago to wage war against waves of pirates, including massive Chinese pirate fleets, Muslim pirates from the Sulu Zone, and even the British fleet that attacked at the height of the Seven Years’ War. Anti-piracy alliances made Spanish colonial rule resilient to both external shocks and internal revolts that shook the colony to its core.
This revisionist study complicates the assumption that empire was imposed on Filipinos with brute force alone. Rather, anti-piracy also shaped the politics of belonging in the colonial Philippines. Real and imagined pirate threats especially influenced the fate and fortunes of Chinese migrants in the islands. They triggered genocidal massacres of the Chinese at some junctures, and at others facilitated Chinese integration into the Catholic nation as loyal vassals.
Piracy and the Making of the Spanish Pacific World demonstrates that piracy is key to explaining the surprising longevity of Spain’s Asian empire, which, unlike Spanish colonial rule in the Americas, survived the Age of Revolutions and endured almost to the end of the nineteenth century. Moreover, it offers important new insight into piracy’s impact on the trajectory of globalization and European imperial expansion in maritime Asia.