I am a historian of Iberian empires with a specialization in New Spain. I received my Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University and am an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Houston. My first book, Taxing Blackness: Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain (University of Alabama Press, February 2019), examines taxation in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world from the perspectives of free Afromexicans, local officials, and fiscal bureaucrats. Using petitions and lawsuits related to royal tributes, free people of African descent sought to shape colonial ideas of blackness, subjecthood, and genealogy.
My current research examines Pacific and Indian Ocean worlds and their connections to New Spain using a microhistorical approach. I follow the remarkable life of a young, enslaved man of East African ancestry who sued for his freedom in Mexico City in the mid-seventeenth century. A future comparative project, tentatively titled “Heirs to their Houses: Families of Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans in Early North America,” will focus on property ownership in families that included people of African descent.
My research contributes to the study of gender, family, categories of social difference (such as race and caste), and colonialism. My teaching interests also include musicology, women’s history, and religion. I serve as a University of Houston faculty mentor in the Mellon Research Scholars Program, which supports underrepresented students pursuing research and careers in the humanities. Prior to teaching at UH, I was Visiting Assistant Professor in Latin American History at Northern Arizona University and Assistant Professor of World History at Georgian Court University. My C.V. is available here.
I keep a stamp collection and enjoy attending concerts. My newest hobby is quilting, which I do with the assistance of my pet cat. I am classically trained as a dramatic soprano, violinist, and violist. My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, Nâzım Hikmet, Pablo Neruda, John Agard, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Bishop, and Hafiz.