I am a scholar of early modern Spanish culture who is drawn to research questions regarding inclusion and exclusion, limpieza de sangre (blood purity) and race-making, religious conversion, language, and translation across the diverse spaces encompassed by the Spanish empire (especially Spain, Mexico, and the Philippines).
I am currently the Sir John Elliot Fellow in Early Modern Spanish Studies at Exeter College. Prior to this position, I completed a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University and was a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in Spain (Universidad Pablo de Olavide) and Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). I also hold an MA in Translation from the Universidad de Zaragoza, an MA in Hebrew and Arab Cultures: Past and Present from the Universidad de Granada, and a BA in French and Spanish from Seattle University.
At present, I am at work on my first monograph, Por la boca: Language, Conversion, and the Racialization of Religion in the Spanish Empire (c. 1492-c. 1650). The Spanish words por la boca in the book’s title translate loosely as “by way of speech.” This research shows that writers of many kinds invented, discussed, and recorded the speech of Muslims and converts from Islam in ways that mobilized racial stereotypes for diverse ends. It analyzes a wide range of textual genres—plays, chronicles, grammars, letters, and Inquisition records—produced in Spain, Mexico, and the Philippines to shed light on the exchange of racialized concepts and tropes of representation across literary and historical writing. This diverse source base demonstrates that imperial writers often employed ideas about language, translation, and linguistic difference as they engaged in debates regarding the prioritization of particular missionary projects, the policing of religious practices, and the legitimization of slavery.
Concurrently, I am also beginning research for a second book project on the writings and intellectual community of the Granadan Jesuit, Ignacio de las Casas (1550-1608), who intervened in early seventeenth-century arguments about the role that Arabic should play in Spain and the Spanish empire. Las Casas insisted that Arabic could and should be used as a tool for both evangelization and imperial expansion. While such an idea may, at first, strike us as surprising, it did not develop spontaneously; rather it was fed by the intellectual tradition and arguments about language, conversion, and governance that formed part of his cultural milieu. This project poses the writings of Ignacio de las Casas as a place to grapple with alternative visions of empire (and its failures), the centrality of language in expansionist imaginaries, and how linguistic histories contributed to arguments about inclusion and exclusion across the Spanish empire.