Marcella Hayes

Position title: Assistant Professor of History


Office: 4116 Mosse Humanities Building
Mailbox: 4015 Mosse Humanities Building
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Office Hours: Mondays 9:00-11:00am

Marcella Hayes headshot


I am a historian of Latin America and early modern Iberia, with an emphasis on the Andes. I study how black people shaped early modern Iberian political life, using their ideas of community and methods of self-governance to rethink early modern concepts of belonging. In my research and teaching, I focus on inclusion and exclusion, political claims-making, and the development of categories of identity.

My current book manuscript is tentatively titled The Black Spaniards: The Color of Political Authority in Seventeenth-Century Lima. Black people were the majority of Lima’s population throughout the period, and they created officially recognized corporate bodies such as confraternities, militias, and guilds that included both free and enslaved people. I show that these women and men defined and defended their community by pursuing legal complaints, participating in civil defense, petitioning the king, voting for leaders, and organizing festivals. In these interactions with colonial authority, they created a definition of Spanishness that was inclusive of (and in many ways defined by) their blackness. I argue that they carved out space in which enslaved people could have not only legal, but also a degree of civic personhood.

I am developing a second project on the black town criers and heralds of cities across the early modern Iberian empire. Criers were central to early modern society, providing a mostly illiterate population with access to news. In many cities, many (if not most) criers had some degree of African ancestry. I will show how the role of the crier opened a space for black participation in the shaping and spread of important information.

My teaching fields include colonial Latin American history; modern Latin American history; early modern European history; histories of political mobilization; histories of race and gender.


Ph.D., Harvard University
B.A., Cornell University

Selected Publications

  • “The New Trojans: Black Settlers of the Andean Coast,” in Knowing an Empire: Imperial Science in Early Modern Chinese and Spanish Empires, Mackenzie Cooley and Wu Huiyi, eds. (forthcoming)

Invited Talks & Research Presentations

  • “Building Troy in Their Own Image: The Black and Mulato Guilds of Seventeenth-Century Lima,” The ALARI First Continental Conference on Afro-Latin American Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, December 2019 (panel organizer)
  • “First Encounters in the New World and the Invention of International Law,” The History of Law in Europe Seminar, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 2019
  • “On the Basis of Virtue and Merit? : Black Militia Petitions in Colonial Peru,” Rethinking the Practice of Petitioning in the Habsburg and Colonial World, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 2019
  • “From Vassalage to Citizenship: Loyalty and Community in the Black Militias of Colonial Lima,” AHA Presidential Panel “Loyalty, Rights, Slavery, and Power in Europe’s New World Empires, 16th-18th Centuries,” American Historical Society Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, January 2019
  • “Los españoles negros: milicias y tributo en Lima, siglo XVII,” Ciclo de Conferencias en Historia Moderna, Universidad Pablo Olavide, Seville, Spain, October 2018
  • “El gremio de mulatos de Lima y su autogobernanza, siglo XVII,” II Encuentro de Investigadores de la Cultura Afroperuana, Ministerio de Cultura, Lima, Peru, June 2018
  • “Santa Elena Moves House: Black Confraternities, Self-Governance, and Ecclesiastical Law in Colonial Lima,” Modern Languages Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, January 2019
  • “The Black Spaniards: Logics of Inclusion in Colonial Lima,” Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora 9th Biennial Conference, Seville, Spain, November 2017 (panel co-organizer, with Brandi Waters)
  • “The Color of Political Authority in 17th Century Lima,” Fifth Summer Academy in Atlantic History, Seville, Spain, September 2017
  • “Toward a Black Republic: The Color of Political Authority in 17th Century Lima,” Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History, Frankfurt, Germany, August 2017
  • “The Mulato Militia in 17th Century Lima,” Latin American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Lima, Peru, April 2017
  • “Conscripting the Silversmith: Negotiating Rights, Status, and Mulato Roots in 17th Century Lima,” Colors of Blood, Semantics of Race Workshop, Casa de Velázquez, Madrid, Spain, December 2016
  • “Loving Father, Filthy Paternalism: Fatherhood of Slave Children in 19th Century Cuba,” STARACO Summer University, Université de Nantes, France, June 2015

Selected Awards

  • Charles H. Watts Memorial Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, 2019
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, 2018
  • Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 2017
  • John H. Coatsworth Latin American History Fellowship, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, 2017

History Courses

  • History 200, Colonial Latin America: Invasion to Independence – Syllabus 2021 (pdf)
  • History 201, The Historian’s Craft: Nation Breakers, Nation Makers: Revolution, Rebellion, and Reform in Latin America – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
  • History 260 – Latin America: An Introduction – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)