Writing and research projects

My research reflects my immersion in the hemispheric Americas, Indigenous knowledge and practices, the African diaspora, and critical issues in the field. I approach art history and visual culture through a transdisciplinary lens, drawing from history, archaeology, anthropology, ethno-musicology, architecture, and environmental and technical studies.

Currently, I am Associate Professor, Pre-Hispanic and Spanish Colonial Art History, at the University of Texas San Antonio, a Hispanic-Serving and a R1 institution.

I have also taught at Santa Clara University…

and at the University of Maryland, my alma mater.

current scholarship

My recent work examines dozens of little-known eighteenth-century manuscript maps from Colombia’s Pacific Lowlands to unearth untold narratives about ephemeral settlements, African adaptation and autonomy, Indigenous strategies of resistance, and tenuous colonialisms on the margins of a beleaguered viceroyalty (New Granada).

The History of a Periphery: Spanish Colonial Cartography from Colombia’s Pacific Lowlands (University of Texas Press 2024)

By interrogating these maps and identifying the arguments they make, I reveal how a periphery was imagined projected, largely for political and economic reasons. This work connects to a wider body of scholarship on riparian environments, waterscapes, trade networks, interaction spheres, and extractive economies, in addition to issues of forced relocation and colonization.

early scholarship

My early scholarship centered on ceramic representations of architecture made by the Moche of Peru (200-800 CE), a large autochthonous group without a written history who lived centuries before the Inca Empire. 

In assembling and analyzing a large corpus of Moche architectural vessels that functioned as three-dimensional maps of ceremonial space, I explored questions of represented space, the built environment, ceramic technology, regional style and identity, the place of acoustic objects in ritual, and the role of animism in sacred space.

Architectural Vessels of the Moche: Ceramic Diagrams of Sacred Space in Ancient Peru (University of Texas Press, 2015)

Research support

My research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Carter Brown Library, the Huntington Library, and Fulbright

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Additional publications

2023 “Mine Owners, Moneylenders, Enslavers, and Litigants. Free Black Mining Dynasties in the Colombian Chocó, 1744-1784,” in At the Heart of the Borderlands: Africans and Afro-descendants on the Edges of Colonial Spanish America, Cameron D. Jones and Jay T. Harrison, eds., Diágalos Series, University of New Mexico Press, p. 108-132.

2020 “The Map of the Yurumanguí Indians. Charting the Erasure of Indigenous Inhabitants in the Pacific Lowlands, Eighteenth-century Nueva Granada,” Terrae Incognitae 52 (2): 160-194.

2020 “Importing Ethnicity, Creating Culture. Currents of Opportunity and Ethnogenesis along the Río Dagua in Nueva Granada, c. 1764,” in The Global Spanish Empire. Five Hundred Years of Placemaking and Pluralism, Christine Beaule and John Douglass, eds., Amerind Studies in Archaeology, University of Arizona Press, p. 267-290.

2018 “The Manuscript Map of the Dagua River. A Rare Look at a Remote Region in the Spanish Colonial Americas,” Artl@s Bulletin 7 (2): 71-90.

2017 “Ceramics. A Tradition of Permanence,” in Unsettled. Redefining the Greater West, JoAnne Northrup, ed., Nevada Museum of Art, p. 187-190.

2016 “Processions, Architecture, and the Space in Between. Some Observations about Sculpted Moche Pottery,” Ñawpa Pacha. Journal of Andean Archaeology 36 (1): 1-18.


*this was developed for Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian volume on Processions in the Ancient Americas, which never went to press

2015 “The Art of Ancient Andean Architectural Representations,” in Design for Eternity. Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas, Joanne Pillsbury, ed., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 55-79.

2012 “La relación simbólica entre las representaciones arquitectónicas en las vasijas Mochica y su función ritual,” in Modelando el mundo. Imágenes de la arquitectura precolombina, Cecilia Pardo, ed., PUCP Fondo Editorial and Museo de Arte Lima, p. 165-191.

2012 “Vasijas arquitectónicas Moche. Pequeñas estructuras, grandes consecuencias,” in
Microcosmos, Adine Gavazzi, ed., Apus Graph Ediciones, p. 96-111.

2007 “House Models of West Mexico,” in The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress, Arthur Dunkelman, ed., Library of Congress, p. 45-46.