Santa Arias (Wisconsin) teaches and conducts research in colonial/postcolonial studies. Her work focuses on the critical importance of space and place in cultural products produced under colonialism (past and present). She deploys a comparative perspective for the study of early modern Iberian global engagements with a particular interest in historical narratives, travel accounts, political and religious discourses and visual culture. Her commitment to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches distinguish her training of students and contributions to the advancement of scholarship in her areas of engagement.
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. Also, she has under contract the co-edition of The Routledge Companion to Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean (1492-1898).
During the academic year 2015-2016 she was in residence at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (fall) and the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU (spring) conducting research for the 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 of colonialism, slavery, and territorial transformation under Bourbon rule in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In January 2017, she was appointed Chairperson of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.