Rachel Sarah O'Toole
Assistant Professor of History
|colonial Latin America, the Andes, African Diaspora, Atlantic world, history of race, gender|
|URL||History Department Profile|
2006 – 2007 Residential Research Fellowship of the Law in Slavery and Freedom Project at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan
2004 John Carter Brown Library Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities
My current work centers the early Atlantic world in the southern Iberian empires where free and enslaved ‘Africans’ and ‘Indian’ laborers created new, colonial identities from elite, labor categories. During the ‘long’ 17th century, on the northern Peruvian coast, Spanish authorities and local landholders labeled a diverse African population as ‘black’ to signify an enslaved status and created ‘Indians’ from diverse indigenous communities in order to extract tribute and labor.
I argue that indigenous people claimed their rights as Crown subjects against highland migrants, fugitive slaves, and the encroachment of sugar plantations during the later half of the seventeenth century. Simultaneously, enslaved Africans remained legally ambiguous but infused transatlantic categories to signify Diaspora communities such as lucumí (originating from the hinterland of the Bight of Benin). By the eve of the ‘enlightened’ Bourbon reforms, Spanish colonization occurred at an intimate level, that of naming oneself within corporate possibilities as casta categories were legal (secular and ecclesiastical) labels that could be claimed or discarded, depending on necessity and circumstance. Thus, "race" in colonial Peru was not a hierarchy of whiteness imposed from above as boundaries of colonial difference in the early Atlantic emerged from multiple subaltern actions, intentions, and material circumstances.
As a colonial historian, I started working on this project because I wanted to understand how Spanish colonialism shaped cultural and institutional racism in the Andes today. I find that in Spanish America, categories called casta were fundamental to a hegemonic and long-lasting colonial rule. Yet, my interrogation of categories of difference challenges us to recognize racial categories as constructed and modified. Landholding elites and Spanish officials employed colonial categories to maintain order, but colonized people infused casta to create identities that were meaningful to themselves and their communities. Thus, if elements of racialized discrimination began in the colonial past, then so did the struggle to appropriate, to challenge, and to re-make these categories of colonization and slavery into personal, communal, and (eventually) political identities of social change.
I teach graduate and undergraduate courses at UCI about the experiences of indigenous people within Spanish colonial rule, how enslaved and free people of African descent negotiated early modern Atlantic world slavery and the intersections between colonial indigenous and African Diaspora histories.
|Publications||“Religion, Society, and Culture in the Colonial Era,” _A Blackwell Companion to Latin American History_, Thomas H. Holloway, editor (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), pp. 162 – 177.|
“In a War against the Spanish”: Andean Protection & African Resistance on the Northern Peruvian Coast,” _The Americas_ 63:1 (July 2006), pp. 19 – 52.
|“From the Rivers of Guinea to the Valleys of Peru: Becoming a Bran Diaspora within Spanish Slavery,” _Social Text_ 92, 25: 3 (Fall 2007), pp. 19 – 36.|
“Danger in the Convent: Colonial Demons, Idolatrous Indias, and Bewitching Negras in Santa Clara (Trujillo del Perú),” _Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History_ 7:1 (Spring 2006)
|“Castas y representación en Trujillo colonial,” in _Más allá de la dominación y la resistencia: Estudios de historia peruana, siglos XVI - XX_, Paulo Drinot and Leo Garofalo, editors (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2005), pp. 48 – 76.|
|"Ellos no son los únicos dueños de sus historias: liderazgos paralelos de Ferreñafe y Lambayeque (1750 –1790)," in _La Memoria de los Ancestros_, Luis Millones and Wilfredo Kapsoli, editors (Lima: Universidad Ricardo Palma Editorial Universitaria, 2001), pp. 91 - 114.|
|"Who Betrays Ana Negra?: Theories and Praxis of Latin American Women's History," _Hemisphere_ 9:1 (Winter/Spring 1999), pp. 30 - 33.|
|Grants||2004 Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library John D. and Rose H. Jackson Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship|
|2003 Albert J. Beveridge Grant for Research in the History of the Western Hemisphere from the American Historical Association|
|2003 Short-Term Research Fellowship from the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard University|
|2003 Newberry Library Short-Term Resident Fellowship|
|2007 University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, Mini-Grant|
|2007 University of California, Irvine Academic Senate Council on Research, Computing and Library Resources (CORCLR) Cultural Diversity Grant|
|2005 Faculty Associate Grant, International Center for Writing and Translation, University of California, Irvine|
|Link to this profile||http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5358|