From Transatlantic to Global: Emblems in Imperial Spain

My current project considers Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum liber editorial success and the scope of its influence to understand the emblem as a global phenomenon that migrates, adapts, and transforms over time. Although there is an inherent challenge in the attempt to articulate a case for the emblem as a global phenomenon, I would argue that the predominant position that Imperial Spain (1469-1716) once enjoyed in the global order, helps to contextualize the production and circulation of emblems as early examples of globalization. I suggest that emblems as microcosms of a wider world, have the capacity to vividly synthetize ideas and practices, and to connect signs of material culture to political debate, religious doctrine, and pedagogy. I attempt to draw connections between Imperial Spain, East Asia and Southeast Asia through the lens of emblem literature and visual culture.