Emily Berquist, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History
Emily Kay Berquist (Ph.D., 2007, University of Texas at Austin) is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. Her first book, The Bishop’s Utopia in Colonial Peru, is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press as part of the “Early Modern Americas”’ series edited by Peter Mancall, Vice-Dean of Humanities at the University of Southern California. She completed her book with two years of research leave funded by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Dibner program in the History of Science at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
The Bishop’s Utopia is based on the extraordinary 1,372 watercolor images of the 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 reform agenda in the mining industry and in 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 people and natural world, demonstrating how through his scientific research and his reform activities, Martínez Compañón positioned the Indians as intelligent, productive subjects of the Spanish Crown.
A former Fulbright scholar, Dr. Berquist has also been awarded funding from the American Historical Association, the Atlantic History Seminar at Harvard University, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 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. She has served as Advisor for several Master’s Theses, including Amy Peters’ “The Mark of Gender: Depicting Power and the Female Body in Colonial Peru,” which won the 2009 Best Thesis Award in the College of Liberal Arts. In Dr. Berquist’s “Painting as Power” course, students learn about the early modern Spanish Empire through studying portraits, natural history illustrations, clothing, and maps. Their final paper involves writing about objects and paintings located in the world-renowned Spanish Colonial art collection at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art.)
Dr. Berquist has also published on her second book project, Early Antislavery Sentiment in the Spanish Atlantic World (see corresponding article in Slavery & Abolition, June 2010.) This work investigates the global politics of early antislavery sentiment and the politics of slavery in the late Spanish Empire, with a special focus on the disastrous Spanish attempts to establish a slave-trading depot in the Bight of Biafra in the late-eighteenth century.
Dr. Berquist lives with her husband, baby daughter, and dog Leo in Los Angeles. In her free time, she is working on several creative projects, including a script for a historical film and a dog advice column.
301: Methodologies of History
362: Colonial Latin America Survey
465: Painting as Power: The Politics of Visual Culture in the Early Modern Spanish Empire
466: Gods, Saints, and Sinners: The Culture of Religion in Colonial Latin America
499: Senior Research Seminar
510 (graduate): Historiography of Colonial Latin America
592 (graduate): Cultures of Nature: The Science of Empire in the Early Modern Atlantic World