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From The University of North Carolina Press
Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic
Circulations of Knowledge and Authority in the Iberian and English Imperial Worlds
By Lisa Voigt
352 pp. / 6.125 x 9.25 / 2009
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Drawing on texts written by and about European and Euro-American captives in a variety of languages and genres, Lisa Voigt explores the role of captivity in the production of knowledge,

"From the perspective of rival European states, imperial expansion was all about drawing bright lines on maps. But as Voigt's richly researched literary and cultural study abundantly demonstrates, the early modern Atlantic was a domain of cross-cultural encounter that depended critically on knowledge gained through the experiences of captives; transcended national, religious, and linguistic boundaries; and resulted in interconnected histories and the development of common imperial ideologies in the region."
— David Harris Sacks, Reed College

"There is no book that addresses captivity in such a rich, comparative framework as Voigt's Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic. Voigt convincingly shows how captivity--and the shared knowledge that it implies--complicates any straightforward account of national identity or imperial expansion."
— Barbara Fuchs, University of Pennsylvania
identity, and authority in the early modern imperial world.

The practice of captivity attests to the violence that infused relations between peoples of different faiths and cultures in an age of extraordinary religious divisiveness and imperial ambitions. But as Voigt demonstrates, tales of Christian captives among Muslims, Amerindians, and hostile European nations were not only exploited in order to emphasize cultural oppositions and geopolitical hostilities. Voigt's examination of Spanish, Portuguese, and English texts reveals another early modern discourse about captivity--one that valorized the knowledge and mediating abilities acquired by captives through cross-cultural experience.

Voigt demonstrates how the flexible identities of captives complicate clear-cut national, colonial, and religious distinctions. Using fictional and nonfictional, canonical and little-known works about captivity in Europe, North Africa, and the Americas, Voigt exposes the circulation of texts, discourses, and peoples across cultural borders and in both directions across the Atlantic.

About Lisa Voigt

Lisa Voigt is associate professor of Spanish at the University of Chicago and visiting associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the Ohio State University.