Identities and Processes of Identification in the Atlantic World

Tamar Herzog

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Identities and Processes of Identification in the Atlantic World


We tend to think about the inhabitants of the Atlantic world as members of discrete groups. We thus argue that ‘Spaniards’ had encountered ‘Indians’, ‘Europeans’ competed with one another, and ‘Africans’ were imported as slaves. Although these categories may be meaningful to us, like all identities and processes of identification, they were dynamic constructions in constant flux. Having gradually emerged during the early modern period and to a great extent because of the engagement with the Atlantic world, their creation involved both confrontation and dialogue and it allowed for competing interpretations. Not only were these identities and processes of identification highly complex, other group solidarities that were just as important — such as the division between people of different religions, nobles and commoners, local citizens and foreigners — mediated between them, on occasions breaking them apart. This article discusses identities and processes of identification in the Atlantic world. It also examines how people inhabiting the Atlantic world are differentiated according to religion.

Keywords: Atlantic world; religion; identities; identification; Europeans; Africans; Indians; nobles; commoners; foreigners

Article.  8240 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »