CONTACT information and cv
Office: SOC 215
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2005
I teach a variety of classes related to early modern Spanish America and the Iberian world. My courses focus just as much on large transformations (such as conquest, revolution, and military dictatorship) as on the way everyday people responded to political, economic, and social change. In all of my undergraduate courses, students develop critical thinking skills by analyzing an array of primary sources, and these might include paintings, photographs, cartoons, song lyrics, and even popular films. I also offer research seminars designed for students interested just as much in early modern Europe as the Americas.
As a historian of early modern Mexico and the wider Spanish Atlantic, I am interested in the social, cultural, and political lives of colonial people from all social stations. My first book, Identity, Ritual and Power in Colonial Puebla (Winner of the Michael C. Meyer Award for Best Book on Mexico, 2008-2012) analyzes how spectacular public ceremonies reinforced allegiances to city, empire, and church, while also forging, testing, and demonstrating understandings regarding power and politics. My current book project focuses on the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713) and, specifically, how after almost two centuries of Habsburg rule, royal officials tried to "sell" a new ruling dynasty to Mexico City's diverse population. The early eighteenth century has been woefully understudied among Latin Americanists and, for the most part, historians have taken for granted that New Spain’s subjects accepted easily the transition from Habsburg to Bourbon rule. I ask how royal officials sought to control the circulation of information in New Spain and how they played on historical memory to legitimize the new ruling dynasty. This work is fundamentally about the creation of an overarching imperial identity, one that bridged the Atlantic Ocean and highly differentiated social groups as well.
My research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright-Hays Foundation and, most recently, the American Philosophical Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.