Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

ProfessorPh.D., University of Wisconsin

Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History, Department of History
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra



Early modern Atlantic history; history of science and colonialism; history of knowledge


I am the Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. I got my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  Before UT, I taught at Illinois State University and SUNY-Buffalo. I have also been a visiting professor at several universities outside the United States, including the Universidade Federal do Ouro Preto (Mariana- Brazil); the Universidade Etaduale de Campinas (Campinas-Brazil); the Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá-Colombia); the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogota-Colombia); the FLACSO (Quito-Ecuador);the Universidad de los Andes (Santiago-Chile); and the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London

I have won numerous national fellowships given by the Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities (at the John Carter Brown Library), the Andrew Mellon (at the Huntington Library), the Charles Warren Center for Studies of American History (at Harvard); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; and the Donald D. Harrington Fellows Program (at the University of Texas).  I  was the Andrew Mellon Senior Fellow of the John Carter Brown Library in 2010; a Senior Fellow at the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame, in  2014-2015; and a Leverhulme Visting Professor at the University of London in 2016.

I have  received numerous prizes, including the 1999-2001 best article award from the Forum in the History of the Human Sciences of the History of Science Society; the 2001 AHA prize in Atlantic History; the 2001 AHA prize in Latin American and Spanish History; and the 2006-2007 biannual Honorable Mention of the Murdo MacLeod Book Prize of The Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Southern Historical Association. My How to Write the History of the New World was cited among the best books of the year (2001) by The Economist. It also made into the “best book of the year” lists of  TLS and the Independent (London). 


I am the author of more than 60 journal articles and book chapters, as well as of several books: How to Write the History of the New World (Stanford 2001--translated into Spanish and Portuguese); Puritan Conquistadors (Stanford 2006; translated into Spanish); Nature, Empire, and Nation (Stanford 2007); The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000 (co-edited, with Erik Seeman), and The Black Urban Atlantic in the Age of the Slave Trade (co-edited with Jim Sidbury and Matt Childs). My edited collection Entangled Empires and Severed Archives: Anglo-Iberian Atlantic Worlds 1500-1830  will be published by University of Pennsylvania Press. I am currently finishing a collection of essays tentatively entitled On Prophets and Hybrid Empires . My ongoing book projectBible and Empire: The Old Testament in the Spanish Monarchy, from Columbus to the Wars of Independence


LAS 366 • Colonial Lat Amer Thru Objs

40355 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GAR 0.132
(also listed as HIS 346J)

Objects (furniture, textiles, tools, maps, books, guns, kitchen ware, buildings, settlements, monuments, ships, tombs ) often shed more light about past societies than text themselves. This course explores the past of the colonials Americas (from north to south) by paying attention to the objects these societies left behind. We’ll gain new insights on the history of slavery, education, travel, technology, science, architecture, urbanism  in the Americas.



Laurel Thatcher Ulrich  The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth 

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich  et al. Tangible Things: Making History through Objects 



3 object analysis (25% each) (three (5) five page essays on three different colonial objects that have to be approved by instructor beforehand)

Participation and class attendance (25%)

LAS 386 • Religion In The Atlantic World

40995 • Fall 2013
Meets M 200pm-500pm UTC 4.120
(also listed as HIS 383M, R S 392T)

This seminar focuses on religious ideas that configured the slave trade and slavery in the early modern Atlantic. Will focus on religious ideologies of slavery and the religious experience of the enslaved in several geographical and cultural settings: urban, rural, Africa, Europe, America. This course covers literature on the various Atlantics: British, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, Dahomeyan, Luandan, Fante, to name only the most representative.

Requirements:Students will write weekly reviews of readings and a final prospectus (a research proposal) 

LAS 366 • Bible In Colonial Americas

40405 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 900am-1000am GAR 1.126
(also listed as CTI 375, HIS 363K, R S 366)


From the moment Columbus first landed in America to the time Spain, Britain, and France lost control of their kingdoms in the New World, the Old Testament shaped the cultures of their empires. The Book of Samuel taught kings, priests, and the people the contested foundations of monarchical authority and popular sovereignty. While priests sought to recapitulate the lives of Aaron, Elijah and Jonah, magistrates aspired to be like Moses and Joshua.  Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers served out lessons on territorial expansion and colonization and the proper way to design the arks and tabernacles that were local temples. By looking at the history of the Old Testament in these Atlantic empires unusual perspectives emerge: Blacks in late eighteenth century British America created exodus narratives and saw their communities as elect, modern Israels seeking migration to a Promised Land in Sierra Leone;  Indians in Peru presented the silver mines of Potosi (and therefore their labor in the mines) as the “pillars” of the temple of Jerusalem and, therefore, of the Spanish Monarchy; Christian Ascetics sought to become African slaves of the Lord as their individual wills made metaphorical and actual use of the instruments of slavery to control the urges of their bodies; nuns set up cities of God and saw themselves as fully enfranchised citizens of republics, Israelite heroines like Deborah, Judith, and Jael,  wielding swords against powerful occult enemies.

This seminar exposes students to a variety of perspectives on the central role played by the Old Testament in the construction of colonial cultures in the Americas.

Class will be conducted like an experimental workshop. In class, students will be asked to work individually or in groups and answer questions about assignments. To work students need to bring laptops and be connected on line. Assigned readings and images will posted on blackboard.

Grades will be based on two exams and several small assignments.

LAS 386 • Atlantic History

40455 • Fall 2012
Meets T 330pm-630pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as HIS 383M, R S 392T)

Sor María de Jesús de Agreda was one the most powerful women of the seventeenth century. While deep in prayer in her monastery in Madrid, she would appear in Texas as the ‘lady in blue’, helping Franciscans convert the natives. More important she acted as a confessor to Philip IV, prompting the king to abolish Indian slavery in the borderlands while spreading the cult of the Immaculate Conception. Agreda was one of the most influential theorists of her century, completing eight stout volumes on the life of Mary. Like much else with the intellectual life of the Spanish Monarchy, her views have been forgotten or cavalierly dismissed. Yet at the time, she shaped countless lives and spaces; her views mutated into places of memory, what are now peculiar shrines to Angels and Virgin Maries scattered all over the world. This is not a seminar on Agreda herself, but on the conceptual categories of time, space, and power that made her views possible and influential worldwide.

Early modern categories of time are alien to us. In the Christian Atlantic, from Angola to Brazil to Boston, time was understood “typologically”, as a fulfillment of events already prefigured in the Old and New Testaments and in the Book of Nature. The learned studied parallel structures in the lives of both societies and individuals and could also predict likely futures. The power of prophecy therefore lay in the correct interpretation of the past: St John of Patmos’ Book of Revelation only made sense in light of the past history of humanity. Space had also structures. Temples, altars, and shrines are what are left of these views in the Catholic world. The Trinity, for example, was not a theological abstraction but a reflection of spatial and power relations on earth. It was also a commentary on the evolution of time: ranging from societies first held by the power of the Law (God Father) to societies then held by Grace (Christ) lastly to societies enjoying growing spiritual illumination (Holy Spirit). In the Spanish Monarchy a tradition developed that saw the growing manifestation of the Spirit through Mary (and through the work of mendicant, apostolic religious orders like the Franciscans and Jesuits). The history of Mary, her apparitions, and her images constituted therefore the history of the Church itself. Mary became just as powerful as Christ in the Trinity. She made herself available through sacred images that were as holy as the body of Christ in the Eucharist. She also was the prime minister of heaven, presiding over ambassadors, the archangels, as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. She constituted the ideal political ruler.

This is a seminar designed to recover what are now peculiar structures of time, space, and power (both political and gendered) but that once understood transform our interpretation of extant sources such as sermons, hagiographies, church spaces, paintings, chronicles, and more. These were widespread cultural ideas shared by the learned, slaves, Indians, and women, who through the display of  images and their weekly exegesis in sermons formed a community of interpretation. This seminar is therefore also reconceptualization of the meaning of “literacy”.We will read secondary sources on prophecy, apocalypse, Mary, angels, the early modern body, sacred architecture, etc. We will also read primary written document (sermons, hagiographies) and objects (images and churches). Students will write a final paper interpreting the temporal and spatial meanings of an altar, shrine, or temple anywhere in the colonial Americas.

LAS 366 • Colonial Lat Amer Thru Objects

40565 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm UTC 3.110
(also listed as HIS 363K)

This class studies colonial Latin America through "objects" to gain new

insights on the operations of colonial culture. Often objects shed brighter

light on the past than written documents. Most of the objects we will

discuss are religious in nature: paintings, reliquaries, monstrances,

churches. Objects will allow us to reconstruct the complex and often strange

religious worlds of these societies.


This course seeks for you to partake of the excitement of being a scholar

and a historian. It is my goal to give you the tools to learn how to read

sources and books  critically (reading is not an innate skill; it takes time

and training to do it well) and how to reconstruct and understand bygone

cultures using images and texts. These are two basic skills in the

historian's tool-kit that will serve you well the rest of your life,

regardless of the profession you end up choosing.



The following books might be used

Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America

Samuel Edgerton, Theaters of Conversion

Barbara Mundy, The Mapping of New Spain 




There are two exams scheduled.  Attendance:

Every three unexcused absences will lower your grade a full-letter grade 



Three 4 page papers on the assigned readings to be turned ini at different

times over the course of the semester.


Grades: (100 points)

Paper 1: 20 points

Paper 2: 20 points

Exam 1: 20 points

Paper 3: 20 points

Exam 2: 20 points

LAS 366 • Colonial Lat Amer Thru Objects

40575 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 930-1100 UTC 3.102
(also listed as HIS 363K)

Topics vary each semester to allow curriculum flexibility for faculty members and visiting scholars.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

LAS 366 • Colonl Lat Amer Thru Objects-W

40876 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 930-1100 MEZ 1.204
(also listed as HIS 363K)

Topics vary each semester to allow curriculum flexibility for faculty members and visiting scholars.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.



Our America

Published in Not Even Past on February 4, 2014

Iberian Colonial Science

Published in Apuntes, a Latino Journal on September 11, 2013

Shores of Knowledge

Published in Not Even Past on March 31, 2013

Los 500 años de Florida y el New York Times

Published in ABC España on April 6, 2013.

Simon Bolivar

Published in 15-Minute History on February 3, 2013.

Whose Apocalypse?

Published in The Appendix on Januay 23, 2013.

A Nineteenth Century Digital Humanities?

Published in The Appendix on December 10, 2012.

Re-Reading John Winthrop's "City Upon the Hill"

Published in Not Even Past on September 12, 2011.

Puritan Conquistadors

Published in Not Even Past on May 1, 2011.

(back to top)



Bible and Empire: The Old Testament in the Spanish Monarchy, from Columbus to the Wars of Independence (work in progress)

America na Primeira Modernidade (1492-1750)

Coeditor with Luis Estevam de Oliveira Fernandes, (Rio de Janeiro: Global Editora, forthcoming)

Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

Coeditor with Joe Miller (general editor), Vincent Brown, Karen Kupperman, and Laurent Dubois. (Princeton, 2014)

The Black Urban Atlantic, in the Era of the Slave Trade

Coeditor with James Sidbury and Matt Childs. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

Catolicos y Puritanos en la Colonizacion de America

(Marcial Pons, 2008)

The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000

Coeditor with Erik R Seema. (Prentice Hall, 2006) 

Puritan Conquistadors. Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550-1700

(Stanford University Press, 2006)

Nature, Empire, and Nation. Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World

(Stanford University Press, 2006)

How to Write the History of the New World. Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Spanish version

(Stanford University Press, 2001)


Silencing the Past: On Imperious Historical Categories

Silencing the Past: On Imperious Historical Categories
On Feb 14, 2013, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra gave the 2013 George and Dorothy Carson Memorial Lecture at OSU. His talk attempts to look past the blinders that historiographical categories such as The Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, Puritanism, the Reformation, and the Renaissance have imposed on scholarship.

Los frontispicios de Guamán Poma

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra: Los frontispicios de Guamán Poma. "La cultura del libro" / BNP
Especialistas peruanos y extranjeros de alto nivel en el campo de las artes visuales e historia del arte precolombino y colonial así como en la historia del libro y la lectura, se reunieron en Lima los días 22 y 23 de agosto de 2013 en el Seminario Internacional "La cultura del libro: aproximaciones desde la historia y el arte", organizado por la Biblioteca Nacional del Perú.

Puritan Conquistadors

Jorge Canizares-Esguerra on Puritan Conquistadors
Prof Canizares-Esguerra discusses his book, Puritan Conquistadors.

Curriculum Vitae

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External Links

  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    SRH 1.310
    2300 Red River Street D0800
    Austin, Texas 78712