Category Archives: Student Research

Revised Research Idea: Independence movements and Simon Bolivar

My research will focus on the independence movements in the viceroyalties of New Granada and Peru leading up to, during and following the Napoleonic Wars and the invasion of Spain in Europe. I want to mostly focus on the movements led by Simon Bolivar that resulted in the creation of Gran Colombia, and examine what caused his independence movements to be so successful, at least in their goal of separating these regions from the authority of the Spanish crown. I plan to examine the cultural background of the area that would soon become Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, explore the revolutionary sentiment that arose there, and discuss Bolivar’s role and motivation in leading those goals of independence to fruition.

Primary source:

‘Memoirs of Simon Bolivar, President Liberator of the Republic of Colombia’ by H.L.V. Ducoudray Holstein.

Secondary sources:

LYNCH, JOHN. Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar): A Life. Yale University Press, 2006.

Simon, Joshua. “SIMÓN BOLÍVAR’S REPUBLICAN IMPERIALISM: ANOTHER IDEOLOGY OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION.” History of Political Thought 33, no. 2 (2012): 280-304.

Roberts, W. Adolphe. “Great Men of the Caribbean 2. Simón Bolívar.” Caribbean Quarterly 1, no. 3 (1949): 4-8.

Bushnell, David. “The Gran Colombian Experiment (1819–1830).” In The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself, 50-73. University of California Press, 1993.

Revised research idea: Aztec midwifery and birth

For my research, I think I would like to research Aztec birth and midwifery. This is a topic that has fascinated me for a long time and something that I think will be interesting as well as being something more in-depth in their culture. I hope to learn about what their traditions were at birth and their reasoning behind their practices. I also hope to learn how the colonization may have changed their practices. I would also like to learn about how European women gave birth and were helped early on where there were not many women in the new world from Europe.

Primary source: this primary source is an image from the Codex Mendoza. It depicts birth rituals, in particular, the bathing and the naming ceremonies.

Secondary sources:   This is a good overview of Aztec midwifery by the National Geographic. This is a nice article on how Aztec children were birthed and treated. This looks like it will offer a great insight into th relationship between birthing and children to the gods. This article offers a look at rituals, the roles of people, and complications during birth.

Analyzing “The End of Atau Wallpa”

My research will explore the ways in which historical events are recorded, and how the Indigenous peoples in Latin America performed colonialism in the form of conquest dramas. I will be analyzing the play The End of Atau Wallpa and comparing it to European documents about the fall of Atahualpa in Peru. The significance of this is two-fold: providing another source to Latin American theatre scholarship, and addressing the way historians marginalize the arts as valid sources.

I am considering utilizing the following secondary sources:

Theatre and Cartographies of Power: Repositioning the Latina/o Americas by Jimmy A. Noriega and Analola Santana.

Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theatre and Performance edited by Diana Taylor and Sarah J. Townsend.

Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theatre, History, and Identity in Tlaxcala, Mexico by Patricia A. Ybarra.

The essay “Colonial Literature and Social Reality in Brazil and the Viceroyalty of Peru: The Satirical Poetry of Gregorio de Matos and Juan del Valle y Caviedes.” By Lucia Helena S. Costigan, in the book Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America.

A painting, Pizzaro Sizing the Inca of Peru (1846) by John Everett Millais.
History’s Peru: The Poetics of Colonial and Postcolonial Historiography by Mark Thurner

Research: Tenochtitlan as the center of commerce

Previously I was interested in trade connections between Aztec and Mayan society. However, my main focus has now changed to investigating the city of Tenochtitlan and how it became the center of commerce and an important symbol in prehispanic Mesoamerica. Sticking with a comparative study, I want to understand why it is impossible to understand Mesoamerican trade without Tenochtitlan. To do this, I will also look at other Aztec cities, such as Chiconaulta, for comparisons. The Mesoamerican metropolis established in the minds of the Europeans that the Aztecs were sophisticated people who shared many of the same societal qualities seen in Europe. From Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were able to spread their influence across Mesoamerica by inviting outside tribes and ethnic groups to sell their products, creating a multicultural center of commerce.

Primary Source:

Secondary Sources:

Nichols, Deborah L., Christina Elson, Leslie G. Cecil, Nina Neivens de Estrada, Michael D. Glascock, and Paula Mikkelsen. “Chiconaulta, Mexico: A Crossroads of Aztec Trade and Politics.” Latin American Antiquity 20, no. 3 (2009): 443–72.
Drennan, Robert D. “Long-Distance Movement of Goods in the Mesoamerican Formative and Classic.” American Antiquity 49, no. 1 (1984): 27–43.
Minc, Leah D. “Style and Substance: Evidence for Regionalism within the Aztec Market System.” Latin American Antiquity 20, no. 2 (2009): 343–74.
Hirth, Kenneth G. The Aztec Economic World: Merchants and Markets in Ancient Mesoamerica. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
The American Southwest and Mesoamerica: Systems of Prehistoric Exchange. Edited by Jonathan E. Ericson and Timothy G. Baugh. New York: Plenum Press, 1993


Revised Research Idea

For my revised research topic, I plan to analyze the cosmological ideas of late medieval Europeans and the Inca pre-contact, focusing on how these peoples interpreted the universe. This subject is important because it highlights the ways in which people from different parts of the globe attempted to order the universe, demonstrating that all humans—even those whom Europeans considered to be different and separate from their own society—contemplate about the universe and their place within it. No matter their culture, the universe was something that many people thought about, yet Europeans considered their own perspectives and modes of understanding to be superior to those of the Inca. This demonstrates the Eurocentric worldview of Europeans both pre- and post-contact

Primary sources:

  1. Bernabe Cobo’s History of the Inca Empire, translated by Roland Hamilton. This is a Spanish Jesuit’s perspective on Incan culture from the seventeenth century, which therefore reflects a colonial point of view.
  2. Artistotle’s On the Heavens, a text that was written around 350 BC. Aristotle’s ideas about the universe provided an extensive foundation for later medieval European cosmology.

Secondary sources:

  1. Clive Ruggels – Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth
  2. Bryan E. Penprase – The Power of Stars
  3. Edward Grant – “The Medieval Cosmos: Its Structure and Operation”
  4. Susan Elizabeth – To Feed and Be Fed: The Cosmological Bases of Authority and Identity in the Andes
  5. Johan Reinhard – Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center
  6. Anthony F. Aveni – Stairways to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures

Potential Research Topic

So far this semester, I have been intrigued by the effect of European colonization on Native people’s perception towards their use of crops, agriculture, and eating habits. Obviously, we have seen how native people internalized sentiments of inferiority in relation to colonizers and therefore shifted many of their practices, and I would doubt that this did not also extend to the gastronomy of the indigenous people of Latin America. I would also analyze food and recipes as material culture to see how they have been preserved and/or lost over time.

Therefore, I would pose the question, How did the enforcement of new norms and laws throughout society by European colonizers impact the gastronomy of indigenous Latin American peoples?


Something that I would want to research further would be how the Inca’s religion and their ideologies differed from those of the Christian colonizers. While they are obviously very different I want to look at how their different views affected the surrounding regions as well as how the Incas viewed the Spanish.

Research Question

I’m interested in researching how colonial powers used religion as part of cultural imperialism in the middle and later colonial period in Latin America. I would hope to find primary sources from different ethnic and socioeconomic groups and their views on religious practice. Looking at the spread of Christianity, from King Ferdinand’s claim of God giving his monarchy power over the “new world” to continued missionary efforts, may shed light on religious difference today.

Research Question Idea

My first idea for a research question is: how did new national identities emerge from the Spanish colonial viceroyalties of Latin America prior to and during the Napoleonic Wars, and what motivated the large-scale uprisings against and distancing from Spanish rule? I’m interested to learn more about how nations and national identities sprung up in central and south America, driving thousands of people to revolt against colonial rule and create independent countries in a relatively short span of time. I also want to know more about the leadup to the revolutionary movements and how the local identity already in place in various regions may have contributed to the explosion of nationalist and independence-minded thought around this time – specifically, were there already large segments of the population that were pushing for freedom and self-government, and how did those segments become prominent enough to topple colonial rule in nearly all of Latin America?