My work focuses on colonial Latin American literatures and cultures, and especially on the processes of racialization under Spanish colonialism. Currently, I am working on a book about mestizaje (racial and/or cultural mixing), a familiar concept that plays a key role in the construction of identity in Latin America today. This project is an attempt to complicate conventional histories that treat mestizaje, explicitly or implicitly, as a single, linear process that begins with the conquest. By examining the ways in which mixing and purity are constructed and contested across the colonial period, I trace a genealogy of colonial mestizajes and analyze their tactical and strategic operations in the field of the “lettered city.”
More generally, my interests include history and historiography, law, Nahuatl textuality (alphabetic and pictorial) and indigenous studies, postcolonial theory and subaltern studies. What ties these areas together is colonialism, and the structures of violence it produces. I see contemporary social movements and political struggles in Latin America, such as that of the Zapatistas in Chiapas and beyond, as part of a long history of struggle against colonial violence.
Recent and Selected Publications
“ ‘To Avoid This Mixture’: Rethinking Pulque in Colonial Mexico City.” Food and Foodways 19.1-2 (2011): 98-121. Special double issue on “Food Globality and Foodways Localities.” Eds. Carolyn de la Peña and Benjamin Lawrence. This article is also forthcoming in Local Foods Meet Global Foodways: Tasting Histories. Eds. Carolyn de la Peña and Benjamin Lawrence. New York: Routledge/Taylor Francis, 2011.
“Governor Sancho and the Politics of Insularity.” Hispanic Review 78.1 (Winter 2010): 1-23.
“(Re)producing Empire: Góngora’s Soledades, Productive Space, and the Reversal of Spanish Decline.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 85.5 (2008): 639-58.