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I study the language of colonial science and technology, mostly agriculture and metalwork. By finding texts that bridge the “trade gap” of history and literature – technical treatises, memoriales de arbitristas, legal papers – my research shows how we can unearth the rich literacies and intellectual agencies of understudied groups like women and indigenous experts.


PhD, English, UNC (2012) MA, English, UNC (2005) BA, Spanish, UMD (2003)

Other Publications

“Imperial Translations: New World Missionary Linguistics, Indigenous Interpreters, and Universal Languages in the Early Modern Era.” American Literature and the New Puritan Studies, ed. Bryce Traister (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 93-110. (googlebooks link) “Colonial Industry and the Gendered Language of Empire: Silkworks in the Virginia Colony, 1607-1655.” European Empires in the American South, ed. Joseph P. Ward; aft. Kathleen DuVal (Oxford, M.S.: University of Mississippi Press, 2017), 8-36. “La dote natural: género y el lenguaje de la vida cotidiana en la minería andina.” Anuario de estudios bolivianos 22, vol. II (2016): 145-168. ISSN: 1819-7981. “Women, Men, and the Legal Languages of Mining in the Colonial Andes.” Ethnohistory 63.2 (2016): 351-380. doi 10.1215/00141801-3455347. “Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into Extractive Economies: The Science of Colonial Silver.” Journal of Extractive Industries and Society 3.1 (2016): 117-123. “Conchos, colores y castas de metales: El lenguaje de la ciencia colonial en la región andina.” Umbrales 29 (2015): 15-47. ISSN: 1994-4543. Digital copy available from la Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (La Paz, Bolivia). “Gendered Language and the Science of Colonial Silk.” Early American Literature 49.2 (Summer 2014): 271-325. doi: 10.1353/eal.2014.0024


Digital Projects and Student Collaborations: Multepal. Collaborative effort to build a digital edition of the Popol Wuj (Spring 2017, as part of SPAN 7559/4993). “Recreating the Archive.” Faculty Global Research with Undergraduate Students (Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation; with Rebecca Graham, CLAS 2017). Podcast: “The Science of Colonial Silver: Rethinking the History of Mining and Metallurgy in the Early Americas.” History Hub: Kingdom, Empire, and Plus Ultra (University College Dublin), 8 August 2016. Guest editor, Early Americas Digital Archive. Eleven digital critical editions of colonial-era texts translated, transcribed, and annotated by undergraduate and graduate students at UVa and William & Mary. Wikipedia editor, “Literatura indígena” (SPAN 4500, Spring 2016). Students could choose to write seminar papers (individually) or Wikipedia pages (in groups) about indigenous literatures and cultures. Projects include: deities from Mesoamerica and the Andes; musical traditions of the Suyá people of Brasil; spiritual practices of the Achuar people of Ecuador; Nahua writer Hernando de Alvarado Tezozómoc; León Portilla’s Visión de los vencidos; modern retellings of Guaman Poma. “Mining the Languages of Empire in the Early Americas.” The Appendix 2.1 (2014): 14-21. This quarterly journal encourages interdisciplinary approaches to experimental and narrative histories, especially image-rich, interactive articles that are designed for digital platforms.

Allison Margaret Bigelow

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