I am a professor at UT who happens to be Latino with a son in Travis Heights Elementary.

In 2017, I enrolled my son 9-year old in kindergarten at THES and without my knowledge, he (who was born in Austin and is a native English speaker), was enrolled as an English Learner. We checked the bilingual box (we used to speak some Spanish in our former household but the dominant language was English).

My 9-year old took an “exam” on English Proficiency that the rest of his White peers did not. He was deemed not proficient.

The K exam is…


Two weeks ago, I visited Dr. Melissa Guy, the Benson Librarian. I wanted to chat with her about my vision of the Benson’s Centennial (see my letter published in NEP last week). After listening to me, Dr. Guy recommended I read A Library for the Americas: The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection (University of Texas Press, 2018). There were a few things I might learn from reading the book, she said. Soon after our meeting ended, I bought the book.

I read carefully every essay: The personal recollections of Mauricio Tenorio (on every shelf within the Benson) and Barbara…


Prólogo a la obra de Mireya Salgado “Indios Altivos e Inquietos”. Conflicto y política popular en el tiempo de las sublevaciones: Riobamba en 1764 y Otavalo en 1777 (FLACSO, 2021)

En su libro sobre los levantamientos indígenas de los corregimientos de Riobamba y Otavalo, Mireya Salgado hace añicos la mismísima categoría de “indio,” central a la historiografía colonial. Si miramos de cerca dos levantamientos en 1764 en Riobamba y en 1777 en Otavalo, no encontramos sino peculiares experiencias de etnogénesis urbana y rural de individuos que la historiografía insiste compartieron la misma identidad colonial: “Indios”.

La audiencia de Quito sobrellevó una crisis de cerca de un siglo: epidemias, terremotos, volcanes, y miseria desencadenada por una reorganización geopolítica y económica regional, hemisférica, y global. Regiones como las de Riobamba, que habían…


Gabriel B. Paquette. The European Seaborne Empires: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Age of Revolutions. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. 312 pp. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978–0–300–24527–1.

What is an empire? Were the handful of islands, fortresses, ports, and inland corridors controlled by a few early-modern western-European monarchies “empires”? Were the dozens of ports-fortifications-trading posts the “Portuguese” held in West and East Africa, the Middle East, India, East Asia, South Asia, and coastal Brazil really “Portuguese” and all that “sovereign”? Were the empires of “Spain”, “Portugal”, “France”, “England”, and the “Low Countries” different and distinct from each other, mountains of Black Legend historiography notwithstanding? What was distinctive and novel about these loosely held structures within genealogies of empire? Did these “empires” really change the world? …


CRISTINA SORIANO, Tides of Revolution: Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela. Albequerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2018.

When did Spanish American wars of independence begin? Recent historiography has argued that neither the American nor the French revolutions had much of an impact in shaking colonial Spanish America. The collapse happened suddenly and serendipitously several decades later, only after Napoleon’s armies invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 1808. The power vacuum caused by Napoleon was filled by local urban juntas. It took the rest of the nineteenth century to reassemble tiny sovereign municipal islands into functioning nation-states. In her challenging Tides of Revolution, Soriano stands this historiographical paradigm on its head. Soriano demonstrates that coastal Venezuela suffered profound transformations…


Ed. Jaime Marroquín Arredondo and Ralph Bauer. Translating Nature: Cross-Cultural Histories of Early Modern Science. (The Early Modern Americas.) vi, 355pp., notes, Index. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. £47.00 (cloth), ISBN 9780812250930.

Dozens of witnesses would be summoned and queried following carefully crafted questionnaires. Indigenous specialists would offer information on classifications of birds or herbal cures. Scribes and translators would confirm the accuracy of testimonies. Indigenous scholars and missionaries would act as “judges” collating and glossing testimonies. Often the “inquisitor,” who presided over the carefully choreographed extraction of truthful facts from witnesses, would also clinically test the alleged curative…


Imagine a flagship-state-university in a majority-black state with only a handful of Black professors. Imagine these Black instructors earning much lower salaries than any other group, regardless of merit. Imagine Black faculty nearly absent in 85 % of all departments, schools, and centers. Imagine this university with a sprinkle of Black males and no Black females among hundreds of top administrative positions. Imagine this institution with no Blacks leading centers of bioengineering, artificial intelligence, or financial innovation. Black faculty would only lead centers on things “Black.” Imagine, however, this institution with a globally renowned Black Studies Center led by White…


TO THE MEMORY OF ALL FORGOTTEN QUITEÑO ‘MINING ENGINEERS’, NEVER WHITE ENOUGH TO BE REMEMBERED, MY FATHER FOREMOST

The 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt’s birth has been marked by dozens of meetings, conferences, and books. The sage who spent five years traveling in Spanish America appears as the inventor of everything. The German “gay” scholar allegedly was the father of modern psychology, aesthetics, cultural anthropology, ecological criticism, and good taste. He not only appears as a radical republican (who drew his income from a Prussian despot) but also as an anti-colonialist and vocal abolitionist (whose trips in Cuba were…


“Screw Humboldt. How could the Prussian claim any authority on geo-distribution on the Chimborazo if Humboldt half-climbed once the volcano for a few hours and then left? Humboldt’s maps are cute but wrong. In fact, empirically they are crap. Let me tell you how to really do and map biodistribution.”

For the lovers of Humboldtiana, I am appending a few images. These images were produced at about the same time (ca 1803–04) by Alexander von Humboldt (image 1)

Humboldt. Boceto nivelacion plantas Chimborazo. 1803. Museo Nacional Colombia. From Mauricio Nieto Olarte’ La obra cartografica de Francisco Jose de Caldas (2006)

and the son of Popayan, Francisco Jose de Caldas (the rest), when both lived in Carlos Montufar’s hacienda near Quito for 8 months.


La invención de la naturaleza: El nuevo mundo de Alexander von Humboldt de Andrea Wulf ha ganado cerca de veinte premios en Italia, Alemania, Inglaterra, los Estados Unidos, y ahora más recientemente en China. Una edición de bolsillo enumera el NYT, The Atlantic, The Economist, Nature y otras diez publicaciones importantes entre los órganos de circulación que han declarado el libro de Wulf como uno de los mejores libros del año (2015–2016). ¿Cuál es el origen de tanto éxito? Es claro que el libro satisface una demanda acumulada de héroes en una era de catástrofes ambientales por venir.

Wulf busca…

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

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