Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Advisor's Name
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Noble David Cook
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Thomas A. Breslin
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
Cuba, Havana, environment, shipbuilding, forest, colonial Latin America, 18th century
Date of Defense
This dissertation examines the construction of Spanish naval warships in Havana, Cuba, between the accession of the Bourbon family to Spain’s throne in 1700 and the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. The rapid increase in timber consumption after the Royal Havana Company gained the obligation for shipbuilding in 1741 led to significant changes in the social and environmental landscape. This dissertation concludes that Cuba’s maritime industries under royal authorities and the Royal Havana Company were the product of deliberate and centralized Spanish reforms that had demonstrable and measurable consequences on the island.
This period of shipbuilding consumed large amounts of Cuban timber and initiated extensive deforestation on the island that is often associated solely with sugar cultivation. As harvesting crews moved farther and farther out from Havana seeking valuable timber, they altered the organization of the natural landscape. Primary source analysis of correspondence and government orders for ship construction reveal the contentious nature of naval administration between colony and metropole. Bureaucrats, laborers, skilled tradesmen, and apprentices arrived on the island, putting pressure on the Cuban environment to support a rapidly growing population. Contracts between authorities in Havana and private subjects demonstrate how those living on the island were responsible for implementing the policies that led to the destruction of large tracts of timber as the Royal Havana Company and the navy sought increased knowledge and control over the environment.
Daniel, Jason M., "Shipbuilding, Forest Resource Exploitation, and Environmental Change in Cuba in the Early Eighteenth Century, 1700-1763" (2019). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4322.
Available for download on Monday, December 11, 2023
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