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Dana Leibsohn

Dana Leibsohn is Priscilla Paine van der Poel Professor of Art History at Smith College. As a scholar, she has long been interested in different modes of writing of history, especially histories produced in, and about colonial settings. She earned her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College with a major in Anthropology; for her M.A. (University of Colorado) and her Ph.D. (UCLA), she turned to art history, hoping to better understand how people created, used, and used up (!) objects in the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries. Her current research addresses both indigenous visual cultures in colonial Latin America and trans-Pacific trade in the early modern period. Of particular interest are the lived experiences of colonial geographies and the ways in which people use objects made of ephemeral or mutable materials—paper, wax, fiber, silver—in daily life, be it for devotional practice or commercial exchange. These projects rely upon work in archives and museums, largely in cities that once formed part of the Spanish Empire: Seville, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Manila; they also engage current debates about what it means to collect, own, and display objects from the past. She has published on indigenous maps and basketry, hybridity in colonial visual culture and the trade between China and Mexico. Because she is committed to public scholarship, along with traditional academic work, she has also published collaborative online research with Barbara E. Mundy (also of MAVCOR), including “History from Things: Indigenous Objects and Colonial Latin America,” and Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820. She has held grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Getty Research Institute; she now serves on the Editorial Board and as Special Issues Editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Colonial Latin American Review.

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