The Manuscript Map of the Dagua River Region (1764) is a hand-drawn map produced in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. While created as visual testimony for a land dispute, I argue that a careful art historical reading of the Dagua River Map, considered in conjunction with eighteenth-century archival documents, nineteenth-century explorers’ accounts, and surviving historical maps, reveals other narratives about ethnicity, industry, and society in a remote region of a peripheral Spanish viceroyalty. The Dagua River map highlights the incontrovertible place that geography held for those—namely enslaved and freed Africans—who came to control trade and transport in the region, buying their freedom and establishing free communities.


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