Cartas de América #20: so a white woman walks into a seminar on black radicalism

It’s very easy, for those of us in positions of privilege, to get overwhelmed by this barrage of new information, get scared that we’ll get it wrong, and walk away unchanged. It’s harder to dive in at precisely the points we suspect we’re wrong about. What I am in fact describing is the process ofContinue reading “Cartas de América #20: so a white woman walks into a seminar on black radicalism”

Cartas de América #19: we have got to write better hagiographies

It is necessary to tell stories about powerful men getting erotic satisfaction out of domination and violence being on the wrong side of God. It is good to shout that their victims are the holy ones. It is essential for the moral credibility of the Church to grasp these dynamics in the past if weContinue reading “Cartas de América #19: we have got to write better hagiographies”

Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories

The first painting I saw when I walked into Painted in Mexico/Pinxit Mexici, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, belongs to a favorite subgenre of mine: art that depicts art. Specifically, it depicts the altarpiece by Juan Rodríguez Juárez in the chapel at the Convent of Corpus ChristiContinue reading “Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories”

Cartas de América #16: five lessons from grad school

Two (academic) years ago, I was given a list of books and told to prepare for a week of written exams followed by an oral exam sometime in spring 2018. In the meantime, I was tasked with passing 10 classes, teaching 6 others, writing a mess of term papers and projects, and attempting to buildContinue reading “Cartas de América #16: five lessons from grad school”

Cartas de América #15: if you want slavery abolished, you gotta do it yourself

Earlier this year, I told you about a project I’m working on for which the working title is Repent! (And Have It Notarized.) C’mon, that’s a way better dissertation title than “‘Ni un sólo maravedí que suyo sea’: the theology of restitution in New Spain,” right? Anyway, here’s a quick refresher: in 1552, Bartolomé deContinue reading “Cartas de América #15: if you want slavery abolished, you gotta do it yourself”

Cartas de América #14: reading liberation theology during finals week

The second book I read after my comprehensive exams ended was Teología de la liberación by Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, O.P. (The first was the latest Miss Kopp adventure.) It seemed ludicrous that I’d gotten this far as a student of Latin American Catholicism without reading it. But like many people, like many of you I bet,Continue reading “Cartas de América #14: reading liberation theology during finals week”

Cartas de América #13: A Short History of “Latin America”

I got my undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies, but I always lie about it. I usually call it Latin American history or languages or sociology or religion or any other number of things it wasn’t. I find my discomfort with my career productive. To admit I study a completely made-up thing is to recognizeContinue reading “Cartas de América #13: A Short History of “Latin America””

Cartas de América #12: thoughts from the roof of the Trocadero Hotel

On October 19, 1901, Alberto Santos=Dumont (he was fond of using an equals sign, not a hyphen, to honor his Brazilian and French heritage equally) climbed to the roof of the Trocadero Hotel. He’d only been flying for nine minutes when he made it to the Eiffel Tower, suspended in glory by hydrogen gas andContinue reading “Cartas de América #12: thoughts from the roof of the Trocadero Hotel”

Cartas de América #11: ¡viva la religión y muera el mal gobierno!

On December 12, 1794, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Dominican friar named fray Servando Teresa de Mier approached the pulpit to rewrite history. For this he was investigated by the Inquisition, sent to Spain to be put on trial, was sentenced to ten years’ exile, and was banned from preaching and confessingContinue reading “Cartas de América #11: ¡viva la religión y muera el mal gobierno!”

Cartas de América #10: a dispatch from my twelve-year-old self

One summer when I was twelve I went to nerd camp in México. There were soccer games and awkward dances and from what I remember, there was a lot of rain, too. I was taking intro to archaeology at Universidad de las Américas Puebla (not to be confused with that other School of the Americas).Continue reading “Cartas de América #10: a dispatch from my twelve-year-old self”