Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


ONLINE CONFERENCE: Dire Straits: Patagonia and the Magellan Circumnavigation at 500

30 March 2021, 12:45 pm–8:00 pm


An online conference marking 500 years since Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan sailed through the strait at the southernmost tip of the Americas that now bears his name as part of the first circumnavigation of the globe (1519-22).

Event Information

Open to





Elizabeth Chant

Hosted by the University College London Institute of Advanced Studies and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London
Kindly supported by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies

November 2020 marked 500 years since Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan sailed through the strait at the southernmost tip of the Americas that now bears his name as part of the first circumnavigation of the globe (1519-22). Providing Europe with a new route to Asia, the Strait of Magellan became an important strategic location that attracted the interest of numerous nations throughout the early modern period and beyond.

On the eve of this significant anniversary, this conference aims to unite new and diverse critical perspectives on the Strait, its surrounding regions, and the Pacific spaces that it brought into European view for the first time, across a broad time frame. This event seeks to avoid the triumphalist commemorative narrative typifying many celebrations of this anniversary, and provide a space that privileges alternative, decolonial and emerging research that continues to question the tropes of barrenness and desolation that have long been associated with Patagonia. By welcoming scholars working across fields as diverse as environmental history, historical geography, visual culture, and Latin American politics, we hope to shed further light on the contested nature of Patagonian space and how it has been understood by different peoples at different times. We also seek to continue the important work that is already being done by Latin American scholars in particular that speaks to the significance of Patagonia and its indigenous peoples in the history of the Americas and of the world.

Papers will be presented in English and Spanish; all Spanish papers will be live-subtitled in English.

Please register your interest via Eventbrite. All attendees will receive the Zoom link via e-mail ahead of the event.


12:45 (London) | 08:45 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)


Elizabeth Chant and Alexander Samson (UCL)

13:00 (London) | 09:00 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)

Panel 1: Mobilities and Mythologies (Chair: Katherine Parker)

  • Carmen Channing (University of Edinburgh): From Magellan to Drake: The Locus of the Strait of Magellan in England's Worldview (1520-1578)
  • Carolina Martínez (CONICET-Universidad Nacional de San Martín): Moving Frontiers, Global Interests. The South Atlantic Expedition of Brothers Bartolomé and Gonzalo García de Nodal (1618-1619)
  • Alexander Samson (University College London): The Armada del Mar del Sur, Global Mobility and the Limits of Empire

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/6Jgbbg0d



14:30 (London) | 10:30 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)


14:45 (London) | 10:45 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)

Panel 2: Maps and Imaginaries (Chair: Elizabeth Chant)

  • Katherine Parker (Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc): Magellan’s Straits or Round the Horn?: The British Discourse on Passing from Atlantic to Pacific, 1670-1770
  • Natalia Gándara (University College London): Competing Maps: Cartographic Production and Circulation in the Age of Imperial Rivalries (1780s-1830s)
  • Marcelo Figueroa (CONICET-Universidad Nacional de Tucumán): In Pursuing of a ‘Complete’ Geographical inspection of the Spanish Empire: Juan Gutiérrez de la Concha in the Eastern Coast of Patagonia (1794)

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/5EFA0613



16:15 (London) | 12:15 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)


16:30 (London) | 12:30 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)

Panel 3: States, Images and Conflicts (Chair: Natalia Gándara)

  • Cielo Zaidenwerg (CONICET-UBA/Universitat de Barcelona): La Patagonia desde ‘afuera’. Representaciones transnacionales del espacio otro en la prensa española (XIX-XX)
  • Alberto Harambour (Universidad Austral de Chile-IDEAL Center): The Invention of the Strait of Magellan’s Discovery: The New Racial Project of Chilean Settler Colonialism in 1920
  • Samuel García Oteíza (Instituto de la Patagonia, Universidad de Magallanes): Exploradores y el registro cartográfico del camino en fuegopatagonia; una aproximación a las caminerias del territorio 1870-1885

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/b875CBCD



18:00 (London) | 14:00 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)


18:30 (London) | 14:30 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)


Ximena Urbina (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso): Imperio global, diseños locales: la proyección de la capitanía general de Chile hacia el estrecho de Magallanes y la nunca hallada Ciudad de los Césares

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/fCfH57b5



19:30 (London) | 15:30 (Santiago/Buenos Aires)

Closing remarks

Elizabeth Chant