My current research interests focus on gender, sexuality, and legal cultures in the late-colonial and early republican Andes. I am the author of The Limits of Gender Domination: Women, the Law, and Political Crisis in Quito (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010). From the book’s description:
Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous late colonial and early republican periods in Quito, Ecuador (1765-1830), this study views the relationship between the increasingly centralized power of Bourbon governance and the local operation of social authority through the lens of women’s legal, economic, and social status. Black uses judicial documents, legal literatures, and institutional materials to examine women’s changing legal, social, and economic status during the Bourbon reforms. By documenting the progresive removal of limits to patriarchal power in the waning years of the Spanish Empire in Quito, this study traces the genealogy of legal patriarchy in Spanish America.\
Feel free to click on the link on the right of this page to buy your own copy! A super-concentrated version of that work is available as a 2007 article in the Colonial Latin American Review.\
With that project put to bed, I’ve got a number of others rattling around in my head. There are a few articles in the queue. I’m finishing revisions on an article on Female Sodomy in Bourbon Quito, assembling the pieces together for an article that will statistically analyze Quito city jail censuses from 1749 to 1853. I’m trying to work out the significance of the shift from status to contract (proper recognition to Henry Maine for the phrase) for women in the early Republic as encapsulated in the changing legal categories, vecina, ciudadana, Señora. And, I’ve got a whole stack of murder cases I’ve been meaning to read.\
On the heels of book one, though, I’m really interested in further pursuing the connection between royal authority, sexuality, and the iron cage of productive labor in the Bourbon period. Royal officials during the reign of Charles III (1759-1788) pursued a whole array of reform policies that were mapped onto the bodies of their peninsular and creole subjects- racial, sexual, medical, tax, and legal policies that produced, in some way, a social body politic usually associated with the 19th century. It’s curious as the king’s body (and particularly that absolutist king’s body) served as the metaphor for healthy political authority and legitimacy, while the projection of that authority in the late 18th-century came to increasingly rely on forms of surveillance that constructed modern subjects. Or at least, that’s the case in Quito. I’ve applied for an NEH in support of this project. The project narrative of my latest application is here. It’s an exciting project with a tremendous documentary base, the lion share of which I hope to curate on its own project site, Bourbon Quito.\
I often present my work at regional and international conferences on Latin American history. Recent conference presentations include the Rocky Mountain Conference on Latin America Studies (RMCLAS), 2011, 2007 and 2004, the South Eastern Conference on Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), 2011, 2010, the American Society of Ethnohistory, 2008, the American Historical Association/ Conference on Latin American History, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011; and Latin American Studies Association, 2007 and 2004. For the 2007 Latin American Studies Association International Congress, I co-organized a panel entitled “Unnatural Acts: ‘Aberrant’ Sex and ‘Normative’ Gender in Colonial Latin America,” which included a paper of my own entitled “As (S)he Would Treat a Woman: Gender and Same-Sex Love in Bourbon Quito.”\
I have also researched and written on the modern indigenous movement in Ecuador, a topic that continues to hold my interest.\
Finally, I would be remiss to exclude my growing interest in Digital Humanities and Digital History. Though my research continues to primarily engage my content specialty in early Latin America, I’m also fascinated by and active in Digital Historical practices of publication, curation, and teaching. Many of my thoughts on DH can be found on my blog. I’m also happy to have a forthcoming piece in Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt’s forthcoming Hacking the Academy: The Edited Edition. See my C.V. for more.