Babies on Board: Women, Children and Imperial Policy in the Spanish Empire



From 1778 to 1784, in an attempt to colonise Patagonia, the Spanish Crown transported more than 1,900 peasants from northern Spain to the Río de la Plata. Based on Enlightenment ideas about economy and society, the Crown used the colonisation scheme to assert control over some of its most marginal subjects. In the hope of transforming these peasants from poverty-stricken burdens on society into filial agents of empire, the Crown invested heavily in the health and wellbeing of the colonising mothers and children, and clearly established the monarchy as a benevolently powerful paternal authority.