History Department
History Department

Christopher Heaney

B.A., Yale University

Christopher Heaney



At UT, Heaney studies the history of archaeology and indigenous peoples in the Americas, particularly Peru, knowledge production in the Atlantic World, museum-building, race and nation-building, and grave-robbing, the world's second-oldest profession.


Christopher Heaney is a Harrington Doctoral Fellow in the History Graduate program at the University of Texas at Austin, and the executive editor of The Appendix: A New Journal of Narrative and Experimental History.

After graduating from Yale University with a B.A. in Latin American Studies, he worked in journalism for several years, including a life-changing stint at the oral history project StoryCorps. In the fall of 2005, a Fulbright Fellowship took him to Peru to continue his undergraduate research on the explorer Hiram Bingham and the excavation of Machu Picchu. The year of research in Cuzco and Lima produced articles for The New Republic and Legal Affairs Magazine, and an Op-Ed for the New York Times, and, ultimately, Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), his first book.

His dissertation, "Andean Afterlives," explores the excavation, study, circulation, and decay of pre-Columbian mummies and skulls from Peru in the Americas, from the late 18th century to the mid-twentieth. As much a history of indigenous bodies and race as it is a history of science, archaeology, and objects, it retraces the Peruvian roots of key shifts in hemispheric archaeology and argues for the methodological turn of treating the dead as lasting legal, intellectual, cultural, and political actors.


HIS 346K • Colonial Latin America

38514 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 101
(also listed as LAS 366)

This course introduces students to the social, cultural, intellectual, political, and economic history of the Americas from their initial human inhabitation over fifteen thousand years ago, through their colonization by Spaniards, Portuguese, and Africans after 1492, to the Spanish American wars of independence that ended in 1826 and produced the region we today call ‘Latin America.’ Students will be responsible for knowledge of the migration of humans to the Americas and their concentration into at least three ‘cradles’ of cultural, religious, intellectual, and agricultural innovation; the imperial factors that fueled Spanish and Portuguese conquest and colonization in the New World after 1492; the ‘Columbian Exchange’ that created a global economy and the Atlantic World through the introduction of Africans and plantation slavery in the Americas; the long transformation of categories of race, class, and gender during Spain and Portugal’s long colonial rule; the tension between indigenous, African, and gendered resistance of that colonial rule and the bonds of loyalty and justice that monarchy relied upon; the Iberian Enlightenment and the eighteenth century reforms that re-imagined and strained relationships between European- and American-born subjects; and the rebellions and wars of independence from the 1780s to the 1820s that delivered wide swaths of the population from servitude, slavery, and tribute, but eroded rights and protections that no longer seemed ‘modern.’


Course Objectives 

1.     Through note-taking and critical reading, students will develop a nuanced understanding of the major contours of the indigenous American, African, and European societies whose encounter created Latin American colonial societies, and the varied political, economic, and social trends that made and unmade Spanish American empire, while leaving that of Portugal (temporarily) in place.


2.     Through group work and in-class discussion, students will become comfortable debating the lasting questions of colonial Latin American historiography: why was it Spain and Portugal that colonized so much of the hemisphere? Did complex indigenous societies like the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and Tupinamba fall to Europeans—and if so, why? Was Afro-American culture in the New World created anew, or did it survive the slave trade? How do individuals subject to slavery, patriarchy, or extractive economic regimes manage systems of control? How do social and legal categories balance stability and long-term inequality? How do individuals transform their experience through religious, cultural, and intellectual production? What is the difference between resistance, rebellion, and revolution? How do loyalties change? Why do empires collapse and where do nations begin?


3.     Students will develop their abilities to read and critically interpret texts and images as “primary sources” in light of existing secondary sources.


4.     Students will develop and apply their writing abilities by writing low-stakes reviews of class readings and by producing a final review of a primary source and two secondary sources.


Required Readings

-       Matthew Restall and Kris Lane, Latin America in Colonial Times. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

-       Kenneth Mills, William B. Taylor, Sandra Lauderdale Graham, Colonial Latin America: A Documentary History. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.

-       Camilla Townsend, Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

-       Charles Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion. Harvard University Press, 2014.

-       Articles posted on Canvas

Course Requirements and Assignments (if 346K):

1.     5% - Map quiz

2.     10% - Attendance and participation in discussions.

3.     10% - Seven weekly writing responses, (√+/-) format.

4.     20% - Critical Review of Townsend, Malintzin's Choices.

5.     5% - Primary Source Analysis

6.     20% - Critical Review of Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion.

7.     30% - Essay on one primary source from the reader, in light of three secondary sources.



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