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Global Urban History Project

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Kristie P Flannery
Basic Information
The University of Texas at Austin
Doctoral Candidate
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Austin, TX  

Additional Information
About My Work
Early modern Manila was a bustling port city and the capital of Spain's Asian empire. This metropolis is famous for its role in opening up direct transpacific trade between China, Southeast Asia, and the Americas for the first time in human history. The economic historians Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giráldez argue that this made Manila not only a connected place but the birthplace of globalization. Early moderns marveled at Manila’s diversity. In 1749, the Jesuit priest and scholar Pedro Murillo Velarde observed that if you spent an afternoon in this cosmopolis, "you would watch people of all nations wander by, see their costumes, listen to their languages: something that cannot be done in any other city in the Spanish Monarchy, and with great difficulty in any other part of the globe.” By all accounts, the friar was not exaggerating. The city was home to Spaniards and other Europeans who were always in the minority, motley Americans from Mexico (many of whom were convicts), indigenous Filipinos, a large Chinese community, Armenians, malabares (South Asians), Africans, and a multitude of mestizos.

My current research explores how Spanish colonial officials governed Manila’s diverse population in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I am interested in the sources of the state’s legitimacy in this city and its hinterland, and the strategies that it developed to control permanent and itinerant urban communities.

Colonial cities were laboratories. The men who ruled Manila sought to critically emulate aspects urban centres in maritime Southeast Asia as well as in Spain and its American colonies. Spain’s Filipino experiments - including its creation of the first, segregated China town - were similarly mimicked in other empires. It makes sense for historians to engage with the many historical connections that linked and shaped global cities, rather than studying these busy, dynamic spaces in a vacuum. The GUHP makes these connections visible by facilitating conversations among urban historians that would not normally happen due to the tyranny of area studies.
“The Entangled Spanish and British Empires in the Indian and Pacific Ocean World: The View from Manila” in Jorge Cañizares Esguerra, ed., Entangled Histories of the Early Modern Iberian and British Empires (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

“Battlefield Diplomacy and Empire-building in the Early Modern Pacific World.” Itinerario, Vol. 40, No. 3 (2016), 467–488.

“Prohibited Games, Prohibited People: Race, Gambling, and Segregation in Early Modern Manila,” Newberry Essays in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Vol. 8 (2014), 81-92.
Professional Associations
The Conference on Latin American History
American Historical Association

Born and raised in Sydney Australia, currently based in Austin, Texas.