Emily Berquist

Emily Berquist Soule, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Ph.D., 2007, University of Texas at Austin
Contact Information:
562 985-4427
Office: FO2-115
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd., MS 1601
Long Beach, CA 90840-1601

Emily Berquist Soule, Ph.D.  is Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests focus on the Spanish Empire, including slavery, indigenous peoples, imperial governance, intellectual history, natural history, and visual culture. She earned her Ph.D. in Latin American History at the University of Texas at Austin in 2007.

Dr. Berquist is currently working on her second book, The Atlantic Slave Trade in the Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire. It is the first comprehensive history of the Spanish crown’s political agenda for slavery and the slave trade prior to the independence of the Spanish American mainland. As such, it fills a crucial void for the study of the slave trade in Spain, Spanish America, and the Atlantic World at large. This political and intellectual history reveals how laws, codes, and commercial ventures regarding slavery were imagined at the center of Spanish power and enacted in critical spaces of empire. Grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2015-2016) and the John Carter Brown library have supported this research, about which Dr. Berquist published an article in Slavery & Abolition, “Early Antislavery Sentiment in the Spanish Atlantic World, 1765-1817,” in June 2010.

The Bishop’s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru, Dr. Berquist’s first book, was published in 2014 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. This intellectual, visual, and cultural history is based on the extraordinary 1,372 watercolor images of people, plants and animals that Spanish Bishop Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón commissioned from indigenous artisans in Northern Peru in the 1780s. It reads these unique pieces of visual data as historical documentation that further our understanding of natural history, art, and the politics of empire in the Atlantic world. The book recreates the intellectual, cultural, and political universe Martínez Compañón inhabited, paying special attention to his reforms in mining and indigenous education. It locates the Bishop and his work with the local Indians in the broader contemporary debate over the supposed inferiority of the American human and natural world, demonstrating how through his scientific research and his reform agendas, Martínez Compañón positioned the Indians as intelligent, productive subjects of the Spanish Crown.

Future planned research projects include a book-length study of the strange overtures of annexation that took place between Cuba and the U.S. South in the nineteenth century, in the interest of preserving slavery in Cuba and strengthening the power of the slave states, as well as a historical biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton — one of the last great explorers of the nineteenth century who made a forbidden journey to Mecca while disguised as a Persian, translated and published an English-language version of the Kama Sutra, and spent four years (1856-1860) searching for the source of the river Nile, which he failed to conclusively locate.

A former Fulbright scholar, Dr. Berquist has also been awarded funding from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association, the Atlantic History Seminar at Harvard University, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Huntington Library, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture (among others). She has worked extensively in historical archives throughout Spain, Colombia, and Peru. At Long Beach, she teaches the history of Colonial Latin America and the Spanish Empire at the advanced undergraduate and Master’s levels, including courses on the history of religion, slavery, and visual culture.

With a former career in magazine journalism, Dr. Berquist also writes for American History magazine. In 2013, she appeared as a historical expert on the Travel Channel historical artifact hunting show “Dig Fellas.” She lives with her family and dog Leo in Los Angeles.



301: Methodologies of History
362: Colonial Latin America Survey
460/560: Slavery in Latin America
465: Seeing Latin America: Visual Culture and History in the Latin American World
466: Gods, Saints, and Sinners: The Culture of Religion in Colonial Latin America
499: Senior Research Seminar
510: (graduate seminar) Historiography of Colonial Latin America
590: (graduate seminar) The Idea of the Indian in the Americas
592: (graduate seminar) Cultures of Nature: The Science of Empire in the Early Modern Atlantic World
663: (graduate seminar) Advanced Research Methodologies in Latin American History

View Dr. Berquist’s Curriculum Vitae