Drawing on texts written by and about European and Euro-American captives in a variety of languages and genres, Lisa Voigt explores the role of captivity in the production of knowledge, identity, and authority in the early modern imperial world.
The practice of captivity attests to the violence that infused relations between peoples of different faiths and cultures in an age of extraordinary religious divisiveness and imperial ambitions. But as Voigt demonstrates, tales of Christian captives among Muslims, Amerindians, and hostile European nations were not only exploited in order to emphasize cultural oppositions and geopolitical hostilities. Voigt's examination of Spanish, Portuguese, and English texts reveals another early modern discourse about captivity--one that valorized the knowledge and mediating abilities acquired by captives through cross-cultural experience.
Voigt demonstrates how the flexible identities of captives complicate clear-cut national, colonial, and religious distinctions. Using fictional and nonfictional, canonical and little-known works about captivity in Europe, North Africa, and the Americas, Voigt exposes the circulation of texts, discourses, and peoples across cultural borders and in both directions across the Atlantic.