Jesse Cromwell, "The Smugglers’ World: Illicit Trade and Atlantic Communities in Eighteenth-Century Venezuela" (UNC Press, 2018)


Chocolate – nothing is more irresistible for a decadent treat or a rich drink to warm you on a cold winter’s evening. In eighteenth-century Venezuela, cacao became a life source for the colony. Neglected by the Spanish fleet system, Venezuelan colonists struggled to obtain European foods and goods. But, they found a solution in trading the highly coveted luxury good, cacao, for the necessities of life with contrabandists from the Dutch, English, and French Caribbean. Having established an intricate contraband network, Venezuelans normalized their subversions to imperial law. Today, we’re pleased to welcome Jesse Cromwell to discuss his new book, The Smugglers’ World: Illicit Trade and Atlantic Communities in Eighteenth-Century Venezuela (published in 2018 by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press). This incredibly well researched and beautifully written book explores how smuggling in the Spanish Atlantic became more than an economic transaction or imperial worry. Persistent local need elevated smuggling to a communal ethos and Venezuelans defended their commercial autonomy through passive measures as well as violent protests when the Spanish state enacted the Bourbon reforms in the eighteenth century. Exchanges over smuggling between the Spanish empire and its colonial subjects formed a key part of empire making and maintenance in the eighteenth century.

Dr. Julia M. Gossard is assistant professor of history and distinguished assistant professor of honor’s education at Utah State University. A historian of 18th-century France, Julia is finishing her manuscript, Coercing Children, that examines children as important actors in social reform, state-building, and imperial projects across the early modern French world. Dr. Gossard is active on Twitter. To learn more about her teaching, research, and experience in digital humanities, visit her website.

Your Host

Julia Gossard

Dr. Julia M. Gossard is Associate Dean for Research in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of History at Utah State University.

View Profile