Welcome! This blog is about early Latin America and the research I do on the Río de la Plata. In the day-to-day grind of researching and writing my dissertation, there is so much historical ephemera that will not make the final cut; therefore, I use this space to explore, share and store them. Perhaps with some simmering in the blogosphere some of these ideas will move from the blog back into the dissertation. Somewhat like a journal, then, I record my thoughts about this arduous but exciting process of finishing a doctoral degree in History.
I also use this space to explore others’ interests in the colonial and Atlantic worlds. I find that if I read with an eye towards teaching, then my comprehension and synthesizing capacity is greatly increased. To that end, I occasionally post book reviews or random musings about other scholarls’ pursuits.
Looking to the future, I hope that these entries will be helpful to students who have interests in seriously pursuing historical research. By opening up my process and workflow, I hope that students and even passer-byes will better understand the process of historical labor.
A rough translation of the blog title is “public and obvious.” The phrase is boilerplate language from Spanish notarial documents. A litigant would use publico y notorio to explain to a judge or notary that, for example, everyone in the community knew that Juan was having an adulterous relationship with Maria or that the governor had an indian mistress or that Juan really belonged to Doña Catarina’s encomienda. The phrase evokes a fundamental, pre-enlightenment principle of early-modern Spanish society: that “truth” did not have to be established through eyewitnesses or scientific means but through the community’s eyes and ears. Contrary to modern legal practice, serious sentences could be given out based on witnesses who were simply relating what she had “heard” was publico y notorio. The concept, draws us into a very different type of community and epistemology.
This blog, then, is an attempt to make publico y notorio some thoughts on colonial Latin America. I am intrigued by blogging as a new (remember, I’m an antiquarian so new is relative) print medium of exchange, especially when you consider that most scholars’ works will never get beyond an audience that can fit in a small lecture hall. I’m referring to the fact that most scholarly presses don’t print/sell more than 100 to 200 copies of our books, especially when you write about an obscure topic like mine. Compare that to the fact that on another blog I occasionally publish to there were over 500 hits in one day. This is all to say that historians do think what they have to say is important and enriching and a larger, more diverse audience–especially when exchange of ideas is implied–is warmly invited.