Bigelow Receives Fellowships

March 21, 2017

Allison Bigelow, Assistant Professor of Spanish at UVA, has won two fellowships for her research on how European and indigenous empires responded to the same metallic materials in different ways. The Huntington awarded Bigelow a Barbara Thom fellowship, and the American Council of Learned Societies awarded her an ACLS Fellowship.

Bigelow studies the history of colonial science and technology, primarily vernacular scientific industries like agriculture and mining. These post-doctoral fellowships will support her current book project, Cultural Touchstones: Mining, Refining, and the Languages of Empire in the Early Americas. Cultural Touchstones applies literary methods to texts that fall between history and literature, showing how indigenous and European empires understand the raw materials of scientific inquiry differently. Each chapter focuses on a different metal – gold, silver, copper, and iron – and a discursive question that emerges in the writers’ responses to them: space, translation, form, and genre.

"This new attention to languages reveals when indigenous miners shaped metallurgical technologies in the colonial Americas (Barba 1640) and how their knowledges were translated out of the scientific record in Europe (Montagu 1670, Lange 1676, Hautin de Villars 1730). By tracing these mistranslations, I show how indigenous classifications like “intermediary ores” were replaced by colonial racial categories like “metales mulatos.” In this way, my work shows how the recovery of indigenous natural and technical knowledges can also shed new light on the history of racial ideologies and category-making in the early Americas."

More information about Allison Bigelow's research can be found on her profile page: