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College of Humanities & Sciences

Department of History

Greer Lecture in Latin American History

The goal of the Harold and Laura Greer Lecture in Latin American History is to spotlight emerging scholarship in the field while also bringing notable scholars to campus. Typically held in the fall semester, it is presented annually to the VCU and Richmond community and is paired with a classroom visit if possible. This lecture provides the VCU community to underscore the importance of historical trends in shaping contemporary understandings in the United States of Latin America, the Latinx community, and the Chicanx community.

In 2020, we welcomed Erika Edwards, associate professor of History at UNC-Charlotte. Professor Edwards specializes in the history of race and Argentina. Her lecture discussed how Black women in the country reshaped their racial classifications in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her recent book, Hiding in Plain Sight: Black Women, the Law, and the Making of a White Argentine Republic (2020), is already foundational in reshaping discussions of race in Argentina.

The first Greer Lecture in 2019 invited Martha Few, Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University, to discuss her research. A historian of medicine, gender, and science, Professor Few’s work examines the cultural and social intersections of nature in Latin America. Focusing on Guatemala, her research has explored unconventional topics that have wider implications for specific institutions. For example, her first book, Women Who Live Evil Lives: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Power in Colonial Guatemala (2002), examined the history of gender in Guatemala to understand how the Church shaped the role of women in society. She followed this book up with an article on the cultural history of chocolate production in Central America during the colonial period (1492-1821), which gives context to the journey of cacao pods from bitter fruit to the sweet delicacies we enjoyed to this day. Her latest book continues her look at revealing topics. Baptism Through Incision: The Postmortem Cesarean in the Spanish Empire, (co-authored with Zeb Tortorici and Adam Warren) explored the complication of: what happens when an expectant woman dies? Examining diocesan records as well as church archives, the book underscores the clerical conversations and anxieties priests as serving both as physician and baptizer in the colonial period.

As a whole, the Greer Lecture is only made possible through the generous support of Harold and Laura Greer. Dr. Harold Greer is one of the first members of the VCU History Department. He and Laura have traveled extensively throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. They have many stories to share and I always enjoy hearing of their adventures.

For more information about the Greer Lecture, please contact Professor Rocio Gomez (gomezr4@vcu.edu or 804-828-9706).

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