February 4 (Room G34)

Professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (University of Texas at Austin and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, ILAS)

Inaugural LAGLOBAL/Leverhulme Trust Lecture: Crushing the Lettered City: Theological Worlds of the Illiterate

The “Lettered City” is a trope invented in the late twentieth century by literary critics who imagined that the intellectual history of colonial Latin America was dominated by a tiny learned elite enamored of the power that flowed from a monopoly over literacy. This lecture demonstrates that literacy often flowed in the opposite direction: from the illiterate to the theologian. Circles of theologians often took down in writing the visions of the allegedly ignorant, only to find them utterly versed in Old Testament prophecy. Many of these “illiterate” visions became sacred texts among the learned, in some cases gathering as much political and hermeneutical power as the Gospels themselves.



February 18 (Room G34)

Dr. Lina del Castillo (University of Texas at Austin, Visiting Research Fellow, SAS/ILAS)

Disappearing Naturalists: The Geopolitics of Scientific Patronage and Print Culture in the Invention and Dissolution of Colombian Space

In the 1820s, the fledgling Colombian government hired an expedition of French-trained naturalists in Paris. The officials involved expected this endeavor to transfer prestige and recognition to Colombia. Historians have traced how several other expeditions to South America secured fame through complex cultural mechanisms of memorialization through print culture. This expedition stands as the exact opposite, however. There was little if any memorialization of the expedition as a whole. Exploring the active forgetting of this expedition by its members, its Colombian sponsors and by the French Academy, all of whom originally championed the endeavor, offers a nuanced understanding of the complex diplomatic and geo-political stakes involved in the transatlantic production of ‘Colombia.’ The most significant factor in this erasure was the rise of Bourbon Restoration France and its invasion of Spain to depose the liberal regime and restore Ferdinand VII to the Crown.


March 3 (Room G34)

Professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (University of Texas at Austin and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, ILAS)

Leverhulme Trust Lecture: The Female Warriors of the City of God

Marianismo is a dominant trope of recent invention by which Latin females allegedly behave like pliant Virgins, supinely suffering pain and sorrow engendered by patriarchy and subordination.  This lecture demonstrates the historical presence and power of a very different model of Marian behavior: Mary as the fulfillment of Israelite Old Testament female warriors, namely, Deborah, Judith and Yael.  Mariology was built upon an allegorical, typological reading of Old Testament texts. In these texts, Mary appears as virgo potens: a woman who crushes the enemy through sheer cunning and force. This Mary was the model for beatas and nuns in the global Spanish Monarchy, many of whom saw themselves as the vanguard of the City of God and the epitome of masculinity. In contrast, males were often seen to be the least masculine members of the polity.



May 12 (Room 234)

Professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (University of Texas at Austin and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, ILAS)

Leverhulme Trust Lecture: Creole Books in the Schools of Europe

One fact that is sadly overlooked today in academia is that in the sixteenth and seventieth centuries legal and theological scholarship produced in colonial universities in Spanish America was cutting-edge knowledge in Europe. This lecture explores five early seventeenth-century Creole jurists and theologians from seemingly marginal cities in colonial Latin America (Santa Fe, Tunja, Quito, Popayan) whose writings were widely read as textbooks in law and theological schools in France and Spain.

October 13 (Room 243)

Dr Linda Báez-Rubí, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM and Bilderfahrzeuge Project, Warburg Institute, SAS, University of London.

Propagatio fidei per scientias: Forging ‘American Wonders’ through Icon-Vehicles

Ever since the Discovery of the New World by Columbus in 1492 ideas coming from Europe, imbedded within a legacy of Arabic science and Classical heritage, were ‘shipped’ and transported by means of images and texts to America and Asia. Not only prints and engravings were one of the many vehicles used for the transmission of religious and political imaginaries as well as of specific worldviews and conceptions, but also another kind of artifacts or what we could consider to be ‘icon-vehicles’ (Bilderfahrzeuge), such as optical and mechanical instruments. Jesuit culture put special interest in promoting these devices, because they were framed in a particular program of conversion in regions far beyond Europe under the motto propagatio fidei per scientias (to propagate faith through science). Under this frame it is possible to explore how, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Jesuits influenced the process of forging one of the most popular symbol of American identity: the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Jesuit erudition was characterized by its capacity for integrating science—or ‘natural philosophy’ as it was understood in those times—and religion in the resolution of theological problems. Epistemological models, originated on the basis of a geometrical optics, were meant to give a scientific explanation of the way in which the apparition of the Virgin took place. The interest of this culture in optical-catoptrical instruments played an essential role in the establishment of models of vision, which inevitably influenced the establishment of the novohispano religious narrative. Utilizing the Warburg model of ‘icon-vehicles,’ I explore the different possibilities of iconic potentiality as generated by the particular characteristics of these vehicles, and how this iconicity is transformed in its cultural exchange along geographical routes and, finally, how these devices transform attitudes in the interior of a determined cultural sphere.


October 27 (Room 104, Senate House)

Professor Nicola Miller (UCL) and Dr Mark Thurner (ILAS)

Masterclass: How to Rewrite the History of Knowledge with Latin American Materials

The History of Knowledge (HoK) is an emerging interdisciplinary field that differs in key ways from the more established fields of History of Science and Sociology of Knowledge.  Often combining anthropological and historical approaches, this new field reflects the ‘epistemological turn’ in the humanities and sciences, and also the critical desire to historicise the ‘knowledge society.’  The field is now undergoing a global turn, as new research on the extra-European world challenges established ‘Western’ narratives of science and knowledge.  In this masterclass, Professors Miller and Thurner share new research on Latin America that promises to rewrite the global history of knowledge.  The class will focus on several related fields of knowledge and their source materials, including anthropology, historiography, natural history, and political economy.  This masterclass is designed in particular for doctoral and postdoctoral students who are developing or extending research projects.  This event is co-sponsored by LLACTA (London Latin American History Consortium), LAGLOBAL and ILAS.


November 17 (Room 234)

Jose Guevara (ILAS)

Hand-written secrets: The study of manuscript publication as a way of challenging the printed book realm

The study of the history of the book in Latin America has raised important questions about the circulation of knowledge and information throughout the Atlantic, the censorship and regulations of reading practices and ownership, and the production of printed books. These questions are based in a modern understanding of literacy and book culture, where the printed book is considered as the main agent of change. However, it is possible that printing culture represents a smaller part of the practice of circulation of information and knowledge for Hispanic American colonies during the colonial period than thought before. A more diverse and dynamic network of communication was probably based on manuscript production and oral transmission, and involves a wide range of written objects ranging from small leaves to entire manuscript treatises. The study of this material not only challenges the ideas we have about literacy, but also the notion of books as stable, unified and permanent objects enduring over time. In this seminar session Jose Guevara will introduce some of the objects he has gathered in his doctoral research and his work on the history of the book in Colombia, showing the multiple possibilities that writers, readers, students, tutors and audiences had to share the narratives, stories and knowledges of their epoch.


June 2, 10:00 to 17:00 (Room 243)



10:00 to 13:00


What is the History of Knowledge, understood as a field? How and why should we engage this field from Latin America? What kinds of histories of knowledge should we be writing?

First round, followed by open discussion:

Peter Burke (Cambridge), Nicola Miller (UCL), Rebecca Earle (Warwick), Gary Urton (Harvard), Mark Thurner (ILAS).

Second round, followed by open discussion:

Sabine Hyland (St Andrews), Mina Kleiche-Dray (IRD-Université de Paris V), Christine Mathias (KCL), Giuliana Borea (PUCP, ILAS), Tristan Platt (St Andrews).

13:00 LUNCH

14:00 to 17:00


What is Indigenous Knowledge? What is Local Knowledge?  What is Global Knowledge?

Third round, followed by open discussion:

Sabine Hyland (St Andrews), Mina Kleiche-Dray (IRD-Université de Paris V), Christine Mathias (KCL), Giuliana Borea (PUCP, ILAS), Tristan Platt (St Andrews).

Fourth round, followed by open discussion:

Peter Burke (Cambridge), Nicola Miller (UCL), Rebecca Earle (Warwick), Gary Urton (Harvard), Mark Thurner (ILAS).


Navarro’s Tapas Restaurant, 67 Charlotte Street


Thursday, January 26

Marcos Cueto (FIOCRUZ) and Mark Thurner (ILAS)

‘Rethinking the History of Science and Knowledge in Latin America’

In this masterclass, Prof. Cueto and Dr Thurner will present evidence and arguments for a new vision of the history of science and knowledge in Latin America. Topics to be examined include the histories of medicine, the natural sciences, and museum anthropology.


*Wednesday, February 8 (Room G34)

Professor Iris Kantor (University of Sao Paulo)

‘The Transformation of Atlantic Slave Trade Networks in Portuguese Cartography (1750-1850)’

A series of events driven by the Seven Years’ War and, later, the rebellion in the Thirteen Colonies in North America and the Napoleonic expansion in Europe marked the transformation of the Atlantic slave trade network on a global scale. In this presentation I discuss the geopolitical contexts in which cartographic documentation of the period was produced by exploring the point of view of mapmakers working in Portuguese America. Brazilian historiography has been demonstrating the importance of the bilateral trading relations between Portuguese America and ports of Africa, reiterating the significance of the interweaving of commercial interests in slave trading on both sides of the Atlantic, but also emphasizing its importance in the construction of Afro-Luso-Brazilian nautical knowledge. It is well known how this was materialized in ships’ logs, maps, navigation diaries and even dictionaries of African languages that became vital to other maritime empires when the maritime primacy of Portuguese slave trade was definitively eclipsed by Holland, England and France. In the case of the Portuguese empire, the structural transformation of the slave trade, triggered by the creation of the Pombal trading companies, meant the incorporation of the eastern coast of Africa in Atlantic slave trade networks, as seen in cartographic documentation. By the end of the 18th Century the European ports and factories in Africa were fully recorded by the cartographers from Portuguese America with great accuracy, spreading out important nautical and geographical information. Comparing the maps of different maritime empires, what can we deduce about the transformation of the Atlantic commercial networks? What are the differences between the Luso-Brazilian mapping and European cartography in the same period?


March 9 (Room 246)

Dr. Guiliana Borea (PUCP, Lima-ILAS, SAS)

‘Art and Anthropology: Contributions from Latin America’

This talk is based on my introduction to the volume Arte y Antropologia: Estudios, Encuentros y Nuevos Horizontes (Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017). The book is comprised by contributions from anthropologists; historians, philosophers of art, and artists who dialogue with anthropology. It shows how art and anthropology not only share a broad interest in the cultural, the social or the political but discuss similar specific themes nurturing each other in their analysis, methods and reflexivity.

I will provide a historical account of the ways in which anthropology has approached the study of art and their interrelations, highlighting as part of this history contributions from Latin America such as the Social Theory of Art; studies on hybridization; “arte popular” and its limits; alternative museologies; Amazonian ontologies and synesthesia; and concerns regarding art and memory. I will explain the four sections of the book and its contributions to these and other debates with the aim to enlarge the studies, collaborations and perspectives on art and anthropology.


March 16 (Room 349) (Rescheduled)

Dr Mark Harris (St Andrews)

‘The Brazilian Amazon, its People and the Circulation of Knowledge’


Knowledge about the Brazilian Amazon for a global academic community is often associated with indigenous societies and their anthropologists and advocates. In this presentation I will consider other kinds of knowledge practices that complement this headline Amazon. In particular I will examine the construction of the past of the Amazon and the character of materials used to build a regional historiography. This intellectual tradition reveals another Amazon, for sure, and one where collaborative efforts between native and outsider are as significant and profound as they are in more popular contemporary versions. They are, however, hidden from view, buried in an archive that takes various forms.


May 18 (G34)

Dr Christopher Johnson (Warburg Institute)

‘On the Encyclopedic Impulse in seventeenth-century Mexico’

This presentation will trace the circulation of European encyclopedic texts and how they informed poetic and artistic invention in the early colonial period. It will consider instances in which the encyclopedic materia has indigenous origins only to be transformed and published in Europe and then shipped back to Mexico. But it will also argue that various encyclopedic compendia with European origins served an essential role in distilling and transporting knowledge from the Old to the New World in a manner that shaped epistemologies, spurred invention, and addressed the intellectual and cultural desires of a Creole readership.