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Professor Rebecca Earle

Today's Potato Quote:

Víctor Grippo, Analogía I (2010)
victor grippo analogia I

The gallery text at the Harvard Art Museum notes that ‘the lowly potato, indigenous to Latin America, here serves as a source of nutritional or electrical energy, and symbolizes the people whose collective power is controlled by the authoritarian state’.

(For a list of past potato quotes click here.)

Order Simple Scoff: The Anniversary Edition

Contact Details

Room 327 Humanities Building, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

Telephone: 024 765 23466 (outside UK: 44 24 765 23466)


Office Hours

Mondays 9.00-10.00

Fridays 9.30-10.30

Academic Profile
Ph.D 1994 University of Warwick, Department of History
M.A. 1990 University of Warwick, Department of History
M.Sc. 1987 University of Warwick, Mathematics Institute

B.A. 1986 Bryn Mawr College (major in Mathematics, minors in German and History of Art)

Research Interests
I am a cultural historian of Spanish America and early modern Europe. I am interested in how ordinary, every-day cultural practices such as eating or dressing, or using stamps, shape how we think about the world. Although my early work was rooted in a very specific part of the world--southern Colombia--these days I tend to study the movement of ideas and practices across larger geographies.

My first book, Spain and the Independence of Colombia, tried to explain the collapse of Spanish colonialism in early nineteenth-century Colombia (or New Granada, as it was known at the time). Subsequent work took on ampler time-spans and broader geographies. My second monograph, The Return of the Native, offered a hemispheric interpretation of elite nationalism in post-colonial Spanish America, based on both written texts and also visual and material culture. More recently my work has examined the early colonial era, again from a broadly hemispheric perspective. The Body of the Conquistador explores the centrality of food, and eating, to the construction of colonial space across the Spanish Indies.

My current projects grow out of my interest in the cultural significance of food and eating, and explore the impact of new world foods on early modern European mentalities and political culture. Together with my colleague Claudia Stein, I have begun an exploration of the reception of new world foods in early modern Europe. Food, we argue, was central to the exercise of the new biopolitical tactics of governance used by early modern states, because these tactics targeted the human body. We thus locate early modern European debates about new world foods such as the potato in the context of these biological strategies and their oscillation between the body of the individual and the body of the population. This project thus links transformations in individual eating habits to state efforts to ensure territorial security and economic strength. For more information, see

I am also exploring the distinctive Spanish American pictorial genre known as casta painting. An example appears below. 'The Pleasures of Taxonomy' (William and Mary Quarterly73:3, July 2016) situates these paintings in the sentimental world of the colonial romance, as well as in the debates about human nature and mankind that typified eighteenth-century enlightened science.


José de Paez, De Español, y Negra, Produce Mulato

Curriculum Vitae

Earle CV

Selected Publications


The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492-1700, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2012) (Winner of the Conference on Latin America History 2013 Bolton-Johnson Prize)

The Return of the Native: Indians and Mythmaking in Spanish America, 1810-1930, Duke University Press (Durham, 2008). (Winner of the Conference on Latin American History's 2008 Bolton-Johnson Prize Honorable Mention)

España y la independencia de Colombia, Banco de la República (Bogotá, 2014).

Edited Collections and Special Editions

Edited Dossier: ‘European Cuisine and the Columbian Exchange’, Food and History, vol. 7:1 (2010).

Rumours of War: Civil Conflict in Nineteenth Century Latin America , University of London/Institute of Latin American Studies (London, 2000).

Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600-1945 , Ashgate Press (Aldershot, 1999).


‘Food, Colonialism and the Quantum of Happiness’, forthcoming History Workshop Journal 84 (2017).

‘The Pleasures of Taxonomy: Casta Paintings, Classification and Colonialism’, William & Mary Quarterly 73:3 (2016), pp. 427-466.

‘European Cuisine and the Columbian Exchange: Introduction’, Food and History, vol. 7:1 (2010), pp. 3-10.

‘‘If You Eat Their Food . . .’: Diets and Bodies in Early Colonial Spanish America’, American Historical Review, vol. 115:3 (2010), pp. 688-713. (Winner of the Agricultural History Society's Wayne D. Rasmussen Award)

‘Algunos Pensamientos sobre “el indio borracho” en el imaginario criollo’, Revista de Estudios Sociales (Colombia), vol. 29 (2008), pp. 18-27.

'Sobre Héroes y Tumbas: National Symbols in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America', Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 85:3 (2005), pp. 375-416.

‘Padres de la Patria and the Ancestral Past: Celebrations of Independence in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America’, Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 34:4 (2002), pp. 775-805.

‘‘Two Pairs of Pink Satin Shoes!!’: Clothing, Race and Identity in the Americas, 17th-19th Centuries’, History Workshop Journal, issue 52 (2001), pp. 175-95.

‘Creole Patriotism and the Myth of the Loyal Indian’, Past & Present, vol. 172 (2001), pp. 125-45.

‘Information and Disinformation in Late Colonial New Granada’, The Americas, vol. 54:2 (1997), pp. 167-84.

‘A Grave for Europeans?’: Disease, Death, and the Spanish-American Revolutions’, War in History, vol. 3:2 (1996), pp. 371-83.

‘Indian Rebellion and Bourbon Reform in New Granada: Riots in Pasto, 1780-1800’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 73:1 (1993), pp. 99-124.

Book Chapters

‘Climate, Travel and Colonialism in the Early Modern World’, Governing the Environment in the Early Modern World: Theory and Practice, eds. Sara Miglietti and John Morgan, Routledge (Abingdon, 2017).

‘Indians and Drunkenness in Spanish America’, Cultures of Intoxication, ed. Phil Withington and Angela McShane, Past & Present Supplement 9, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 2014), pp. 81-99.

‘Diet, Travel and Colonialism in the Early Modern World’, Global Goods and the Spanish Empire, 1492-1824. Circulation, Resistance and Diversity, eds. Bethany Aram and Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla, Palgrave Macmillan (Basingstoke 2014), pp. 137-52.

‘The Columbian Exchange’, The Oxford Handbook of Food History, ed. Jeffrey Pilcher, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 2012), pp. 341-357.

‘La iconografía de la independencia en Cartagena y la Nueva Granada’, Cartagena de Indias en la Independencia, eds. Haroldo Calvo Stevenson and Adolfo Meisel Roca, Banco de la República (Cartagena, 2011), pp. 561-598.

‘The French Revolution in the Spanish American Imagination, 1789-1830’, War, Empire and Slavery, 1770-1830, eds. Richard Bessel, Nick Guyatt and Jane Rendall, Palgrave (London, 2010), pp. 179-200.

‘Clothing and Ethnicity in Colonial Spanish America’, The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives, eds. Giorgio Riello and Peter McNeill, Routledge (London, 2010), pp. 383-5.

‘Nationalism and National Costume in Spanish America’, The Politics of Dress in Asia and the Americas, eds. Mina Roces and Louise Edwards, Sussex Academic Press (Eastbourne, 2007), pp. 163-181.

‘Consumption and Excess in Colonial and Early-Independent Spanish America’, Imported Modernity in Post-Colonial State-Formation: The Appropriation of Political, Educational and Cultural Models in Nineteenth-Century Latin America, eds. Marcelo Caruso and Eugenia Roldán Vera, Peter Lang (Frankfurt am Main, 2007), pp. 341-61.

'Monumentos y museos: La nacionalización del pasado precolombino en la Hispanoamerica decimonónica', Galerias del progreso: museos, exposiciones y cultura visual en America Latina, eds. Beatriz Gonzalez Stephan and Jens Andermann, Beatriz Viterbo Editora : Colección Estudios Culturales (Buenos Aires, 2006), pp. 27-56.

‘Luxury, Clothing and Race in Colonial Spanish America’, Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires and Delectable Goods, eds. Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger, Palgrave (London, 2003), pp. 219-27.

‘The Role of Print in the Spanish-American Wars of Independence’, The Political Power of the Word, ed. Ivan Jaksic, University of London/Institute of Latin American Studies (London, 2002), pp. 9-33.

‘Rape and the Anxious Republic. Revolutionary Colombia, 1810-1830’, Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America , eds. Maxine Molyneux and Elizabeth Dore, Duke University Press (Durham, 2000), pp. 127-46.

Recent and Current Research Topics Supervised

I am happy to consider postgraduate supervisions on topics concerned with the cultural history of food, as well as the history of colonial and nineteenth-century Spanish America. Here are some of the topics and students I have supervised, co-supervised and advised:

Doctoral Students

Charlie Angelo, ‘Writing Nations after the Break-up of New Spain’ (c. 1810-1900)' (sole supervision)

Desiree Arbo, 'The uses of Jesuit classical learning in the Rio de la Plata, c. 1750-1815' (co-supervised with Andrew Laird, Classics)

Marcos Estrada, 'Everyday Practices of Transnational Living: Making Sense of Brasiguaio Identities' (co-supervised with Anton Popov, Sociology, Aston University)

Rebecca Noble, 'Madness and governance: creating ‘docile vassals’ in Bourbon Mexico' (co-supervised with Hilary Marland, History)

Lewis Smith, 'Soup Kitchens: Histories of Leftovers, Loss and Redemption' (sole supervision)

Anastasia Styliano (co-supervised with Peter Marshall, History)

Valentina Tommasetti, Naked and Shameless: Shame and its embodiment in Early Modern European Art' (sole supervision)

Holly Winter, 'Militaristic Masculinity, Material Culture and the Armies in India, 1799-1900' (co-supervised with Maxine Berg, History)


Andrea Cadelo, 'Luxury, Sensibility, Climate and Taste in the Eighteenth-Century Worldwide Racialisation of Difference' (sole supervision)

Helen Cowie, 'Naturalistas sin Fronteras': Conquering Nature in the Spanish Empire (1750-1850)' ( (co-supervised with Anthony McFarlane, History)

María Estrada Fuentes, 'Performative Reintegration: Ex-combatants' Transitions Towards Civilian Identities in Colombia' (co-supervised with Silvija Jestrovic, Theatre Studies)

Rebecca Griffin, 'Marriage and Courtship in Slave Culture in Antebellum North Carolina' (co-supervised with Cecilia Jones, Sociology)

Sergio Lussana, 'Band of Brothers: Enslaved Men of the Antebellum South' (co-supervised with Tim Lockley, History)

Deborah Toner, ''What's Wrong with a Little Drinking?' Alcohol and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Mexican Fiction' (sole supervision)

Cecilia Tossounian, 'The Body Beautiful and the Beauty of Nation: Representing Gender and Modernity (Buenos Aires 1918-1940)' (co-supervised wtih the European University Institute, Florence)

MA Students

Sergio Lussana, 'Band of Brothers: Enslaved African-American Masculinity in the Antebellum United States'

Kim Patrick, 'Why a Million Men Marched: An Analysis of Politics, Identity and the Million Man March'

Emma Rhodes-Brown, '"Know First Who You Are, Then Deck Yourself Out Accordingly": Dress and Adornment As a Form of Expression under Slavery in the American South'

Lewis Smith, 'Eating Indigène: Food, Hunger and (Post)-Colonial Governance in France and North Africa 1830-2011'

Hannah Stephenson, 'Symbolising Slavery: The Narrative of Sojourner Truth and the Female Slave Experience'

Deborah Toner, 'Maize, Alcohol and Cultural Identity in Colonial Mexico'

Christopher Zacharia, 'Drool Britannia: Cookbooks, the Imagined Community and Identity in Contemporary Britain'

Rebecca Earle Sept. 2015

bread cover jpg

Earle book cover

For information about the Warwick-Essex-Los Andes Leverhulme Trust Academic Collaboration International Research Network visit

Text and Image in 19th-Century Spanish America