The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

The Formation and Development of Document Network Systems in the Modern Hispanic World

Joint Research Coordinator YOSHIE Takafumi

Reserch Theme List


Document Network System, Hispanic world, modernity


This research draws attention to and clarifies the nature of the document network systems that criss-crossed the domains of government, law, finance, religion, and military affairs to form a mechanism for global expansion of the Spanish empire starting in the late fifteenth century.
During the early modern period, document networks centered on Madrid but spreading to cover the aboriginal inhabitants of colonized regions, spread across Asia and America. Expansion of these systems was the fundamental principle by which Spain maintained its rule across its vast empire. It was supported by ideological commitment to the supremacy of the document, which became the mechanism for imposing Spain’s rule. At the nodes of this network were structured flows of goods, people, and information, providing the foundations for a system of government for a global empire whose size was unprecedented in modern European history.
We will investigate archives in Spain, Latin America and Asia, gather materials, and analyze their contents from the perspectives of cultural anthropology, historical anthropology, literacy, historical materials theory, historiography, ethnohistory, document management theory, and archival science.  Experts in all of these areas will be brought together in an effort to construct a comprehensive understanding of imperial Spain’s document network systems and their development in Spain’s colonies.