2016–2017

Contagion and the Sacred in Mexico

History/Mexican Studies/Religious Studies/History of Science/Human Geography/Native American Studies

I am writing a book about epidemic disease, indigenous peoples, and the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 16th century. This is primarily a work of religious studies and cultural history—I am interested in how the demographic collapse of Native American peoples shaped the origins of New World (Latin American) Christianity. I am focused on a particular epidemic—an epidemic of (likely) hemorrhagic fever in 1576–1581 that caused the deaths of about two million people.

Research partners for this project might come from many disciplines and interests including the colonial history of Latin America, Mexican studies, medical humanities, or history of medicine and or science, human geography, Native American studies, history of modern Catholicism, and so on. I am interested in working with a research partner in the following areas:

  1. searching and transcribing Spanish language manuscript sources from digitized archives online. This requires either skill with Spanish paleography or a profound patience and some time to learn to read handwritten historical manuscripts from this period. This requires Spanish language research capacity. 
  2. the creation of interactive maps to chart the progression of the epidemic and demographic collapse based on sources and information I have already gathered. This requires skills with various software programs available for mapmaking or a willingness to experiment and learn on your own. 
  3. searching out, consulting, and translating Nahua language sources for this subject. This requires Nahua language skills. 
  4. searching out and discovering relevant primary and secondary sources and materials to provide a broader context of interpretation for any one of the dimensions/disciplines of this project. This requires basic humanities/social science research skills and research fluency with Spanish language.

Research partners may gain skill in historical research methods (archival methods), paleography, cartography, primary source analysis, medical history, and familiarity with the history of the church and history of disease in Mexico.