Speaker Spotlight: Bianca Premo by Susan O’Hara

On October 9th, historian Bianca Premo will be at the University of Connecticut as part of the Gender and History Visiting Scholars program. http://history.uconn.edu/about-the-department/visiting-scholars-in-gender-and-history/


Dr. Premo, an associate professor in history at Florida International University, will be presenting a lecture related to her recently published monograph, The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire. Dr. Premo’s lecture will focus on women, civil law, and writing during the Spanish Imperial Enlightenment. While at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Premo will be also be leading a workshop entitled, “Little Mothers: Looking at Precocious Puberty in Mid Century Peru.”

Whereas much of the existing scholarship in the field treats the Spanish Enlightenment as a distinctly European movement, Dr. Premo argues that the Enlightenment also existed within the Spanish Empire. In The Enlightenment on Trial, Premo challenges the dominant narrative through looking at the lawsuits of the time. These lawsuits were brought to court by women, indigenous peoples, and the enslaved. Whereas previous scholarship has dismissed these populations as illiterate, Premo uses their lawsuits to demonstrate how colonized populations in the Spanish Empire were able to push for legal changes.

This text is in keeping with Dr. Premo’s previous scholarship. In Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority, and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima, Premo dives into Peruvian history and sheds light on how age, class, and race operated within the patriarchy. Just as Premo looks at the primary sources from previously silenced groups in The Enlightenment on Trial, much of Children of the Father King focuses on another silenced group: the youth. For Children of the Father King, Premo was awarded the 2007 Murdu MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association and the 2006 Thomas F. McGann Award from the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies.

Dr. Premo’s work has been featured in The Hispanic American Historical Review, Slavery and Abolition, and The William and Mary Quarterly. Her prior scholarship on civil litigation in the Spanish Empire has earned two fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Premo’s contributions to the field have also been supported by the NEH and the National Science Foundation.

When asked about future projects, Dr. Premo has indicated that she will be looking at Lima, Peru, and investigate topics such as Roman Catholic sacraments and US Latino history within the 20th century.