Santa Arias is Professor of Latin American Literatures and Cultures and Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Her current teaching and research highlight the critical importance of space and place in cultural products produced under colonialism. She deploys a comparative perspective for the study of early modern Iberian global engagements with a particular focus on historical narratives, cartography and other forms of representation. Her commitment to transdisciplinary research and critical thinking distinguish her training of students and her contributions to the advancement of scholarship in colonial studies.
She has published numerous essays in academic journals and edited volumes. Her books include Retórica, historia y polémica: Bartolomé de las Casas y la tradición intelectual renacentista (2001) and four co-edited volumes: Mapping Colonial Spanish America: Places and Commonplaces of Identity, Culture and Experience (2002), Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Bartolomé de las Casas (2008), The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2008), and Coloniality, Religion, and the Law in the Early Iberian World (2013). Her second monograph, (forthcoming), The Nature of Empire: Geo/graphing the Tropics during the Enlightenment, explores the centrality of geographical thinking in late colonial discourses on the tropical Americas. For this book project she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a CIES/Fulbright Fellowship to Colombia.
During her sabbatical (Fall 2015) she is in residence at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich to conduct research for a new book project: Entanglements from San Juan: The Imperial-Colonial Paradox of Enlightened Discourses on Nature and Development at the Caribbean Frontier. This book focuses on discourses and representations of nature, slavery, and land use produced to support Bourbon Spain’s reforms. During the next few months, she will be paying attention to the figure of Benedictine Friar Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra (Historia geográfica, civil y natural 1788), who provided detail observations on geography, climate and natural phenomena in a history that also served as a critique of Spain’s colonial engagements in the Caribbean. She received as well a Hall Center Fellowship for Spring 2016 to continue with this project.