Historical Notions of Privacy in Latin America Online Seminar

Natacha Klein Käfer's picture
September 22, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Indigenous Studies

This series of seminars aims to address historical issues of privacy in Latin America, in Europe, and transregionally. Each month, one of the participants will present a work-in-progress, which will be circulated in advance and discussed online via zoom. This event is open, and scholars of all countries are welcome to join. Meetings will be held on the last Thursday of the month at 17:00 CEST/CET. Exceptions will be informed in advance. The language of the seminar is English. If necessary, questions in Portuguese or Spanish can be posted on the chat and will be translated.

To join the discussion, please fill out this form, and you will receive the instructions via email.


The inaugural session will be on Tuesday, September 22 2020, 17:00 CEST


Dr Hugo André Flores Fernandes Araújo will present his WIP:

“Political communication in the State of Brazil: the correspondence of the general-government in the second half of the seventeenth century”.


Abstract: In recent years, studies on political communication and the administration of overseas empires have gained space in the historiography of the Iberian Empires. Discussions about the importance of political communication have become central to understanding the dynamics of government at a distance. Most of the studies focused on analyzing the dynamics of communication between Europe and the Americas. In contrast, and to complement these discussions, this article aims to emphasize the importance of coastal communication in Portuguese America. To accomplish that, I will use the general-government of the State of Brazil as a point of observation of these relations, since its role in political communication with the captaincies was fundamental. The article focuses on the analysis of the organization of communication, seeking to identify the main problems that permeated the maritime transit of correspondence. At this point, I will emphasize how political communication suffered interference from the conjuncture of conflicts, marked both by the war against the Dutch in the northeastern captaincies and by piracy actions along the Brazilian coast. In this analysis, I will use a varied set of documents: correspondences issued by general-governors, orders, regiments, instructions, and appointments of military officers. Through the analysis of this documentation, I will identify the main strategies adopted by the authorities to ensure the security of communication circuits. Among the main practices is the use of ciphered correspondence, navigation instructions, and actions to fight pirates. The analysis of these policies allows me to observe the role of the general-government in the preservation of communication circuits and maintenece of Portuguese territories in America, as well as the strategies employed to secure privacy and secrecy in the process.

Contact Info: 

Centre for Privacy Studies

University of Copenhagen

Karen Blixens Plads 16



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