Allison Bigelow

allison bigelow
Tom Scully Discovery Chair Associate Professor of Spanish
Office Hours: 
Quarter 3: MW 11-12 (EGMT 1530) Quarter 4: by appointment (not teaching)

Research Summary

I study the history of science in the early Americas, from Virginia to Potosí. I am especially interested in developing language-centered methods that document the ideas and practices of historically marginalized actors, such as women, Indigenous, and African diasporic knowledge holders in vernacular sciences like mining, metallurgy, and agriculture. For updates about my research, please visit or ORCID.
At the graduate level, I co-coordinate the Interdisciplinary PhD Fellowship in Indigenous Studies, serve as an advisor for the graduate certificate in Digital Humanities, and teach colonial literature (SPAN 5800), colonial science (SPAN 7800), and, with with Rafael Alvarado of the School of Data Science, co-teach Latin American digital humanities (SPAN 7559). There, we created the Multepal Project, a transnational research initiative with K'iche', Q'eqchi', Tz'utujil, and Yukatek Maya scholars, as well as undergraduates from UVA (see their work herehere, and here). Students interested in K'iche' can take classes online through the Duke-UVA-Vanderbilt Consortium for Less Commonly Taught Languages. Please click here to learn more about professor Mareike Sattler and the K'iche' program. At the undergraduate level, I teach the colonial survey (SPAN 3420), colonial translation (SPAN 4500), Indigenous literatures (SPAN 4500), Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and independent studies (SPAN 4993 -- see "Student Collaborations" below). My students pursue creative projects and publish original research for scholarly audiences and general readerships. For 2022-2025, I will be in the Engagements program, teaching a new course on theories and practices of sovereignty in the Americas and Europe, 1450-1700 (ish).
Outside of work, I'm often found wrangling tiny humans who look like me. My 4-year old has deep thoughts on the city's parks and playgrounds, and the 1-year old goes with the flow.


Ph.D., English, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2012)
M.A., English, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2007)
B.A., Spanish, University of Maryland-College Park (2003)
B.A., English, University of Maryland-College Park (2003)


Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture for the University of North Carolina Press, 2020). Available from UNC and independent, women- and minority-owned bookstores.
Recent articles (2018-2023)
“The Crossroads of the World: Centering Indigenous Knowledge in Colonial Iberian Histories of Mining and Metallurgy.” Relating Continents: Coloniality and Global Encounters in Romance Literary and Cultural History, ed. Romana Radlwimmer (Berlin: De Grunter, 2023), 205-224.
“Knowledge in Transition: Rethinking the Science of Sameness in Sor Juana’s New Spain.” Latin American Literature in Transition pre-1492-1800, ed. Rocio Quispe-Agnoli and Amber Brian (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 315-330.
With Pablo Cruz, "Ingenios and ingenuity: Rethinking Indigenous Histories of Silver in the Colonial Andean Mining Industry." Colonial Latin American Review 30.4, Special Issue, "A New Mining and Minting History for the Americas," ed. Tatiana Seijas and Dana Velasco Murillo (2021): 520-544. DOI: 10.1080/10609164.2021.1996989.
With Rafael C. Alvarado and Aldo Ismael Barriente, “Popol Wujs: Culture, Complexity, and the Encoding of Maya Cosmovision.” Ethnohistory 68.4 (2021): 493-518. DOI: 10.1215/00141801-9157219.
“Gained, Lost, Missed, Ignored: Vernacular Scientific Translations from Agricola’s Germany to Herbert Hoover’s California.” Modern Philology 119.1, Special Issue, “Multiplicities: Recasting the Early Modern Global,” ed. Carina L. Jonson and Ayesha Ramachandran (2021): 127-146. Available:
“Colonial Latin America.” Cambridge Companion to Early American Literature, edited by Bryce Traister (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 218-232. (googlebooks link)
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title (2022, American Library Association)
“Digital Resources: Multepal, Mesoamerican Studies, and the Popol Wuj,” with Rafael C. Alvarado. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (online publication: Oxford University Press, 2020). doi: (8,900 words).
With Catherine Addington, Karina A. Baptista, and Rafael C. Alvarado, “Decolonizing the Digital Humanities: Remediating the Popol Wuj.” Transformative Digital Humanities: Challenges and Opportunities, ed. Mary Balkun and Martha Deyrup (New York: Routledge, 2020), 7-17. (googlebooks link)
“Transatlantic Quechuañol: Reading Race Through Colonial Translations.” PMLA 134.2 (2019): 242-259. Available:
Traduttore, traditore o traduttore, soccorritore: La traducción y la recuperación del saber andino en la época colonial.” ISTOR: Revista de historia internacional, Special Issue: “El estudio de la minería latinoamericana: Escalas de abordaje, diversas fuentes y reflexiones teórico-metodológicas,” ed. David Navarette G. and Lorena B. Rodríguez 19.73 (2018): 41-56.
“Imperial Projecting in Virginia and Venezuela: Copper, Colonialism, and the Printing of Possibility.” Early American Studies, Special Issue: The Global Turn and Early American Studies, ed. Mary Eyring, Chris Hodson, and Matthew Mason. 16.1 (2018): 91-123. Available:
“Imperial Translations: New World Missionary Linguistics, Indigenous Interpreters, and Universal Languages in the Early Modern Era.” American Literature and the New Puritan Studies, ed. Bryce Traister (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 93-110. (googlebooks link)
“Colonial Industry and the Gendered Language of Empire: Silkworks in the Virginia Colony, 1607-1655.” European Empires in the American South, ed. Joseph P. Ward; aft. Kathleen DuVal (Oxford, M.S.: University of Mississippi Press, 2017), 8-36. (googlebooks link)
Edited Volumes

With Thomas Miller Klubock, "Latin American Studies and the Humanities: One Year Later." Latin American Research Review 54.4 (2019): 970-1022. Essays by Hugh Cagle, Jason Oliver Chang, and Eileen J. Findlay.

With Thomas Miller Klubock, "Latin American Studies and the Humanities: Past, Present, Future.” Latin American Research Review 53.3 (2018): 573-626. Essays by Karin Rosemblatt, Jafte Dilean Robles Lomeli and Joanne Rappaport, and Arturo Arias.

Forums, Talks, and Digital Writing

Graduate Education and Professional Development in the MLA Forums.” Profession (Winter 2020). 2,400 words.

"Teaching Colonial Translations Through Archives: From Ink and Quill to XML (Or Not)." Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Special Issue: Teaching and Researching with Archives, edited by Danica Savonik, Jojo Karlin, and Stephen Klein 14 (2019).

Allison Bigelow, Vivienne Westbrook, Daniel Carey, Carlo M. Bajetta, Mark Nicholls, Gordon Braden, Catherine Bates, Judith Owens, Claire Jowitt, Thomas Herron, Nicholas Popper, Eric Klingelhofer, Willy Maley, “Ralegh at 400,” Spenser Review 48.3 (Fall 2018).

Selected Digital Projects & Student Collaborations

Multepal Project. (Spring 2017-present). Current focus: collaborating with K'iche', Q'eqchi', Tz'utujil, and Yukatek Maya scholars who work independently and at the Universidad de Oriente (Yucatán, México) and Universidad Rafael Landívar (Antigua, Guatemala). Repository of work available here.

     * Supported by: National Science Foundation-National Endowment for the Humanities Documenting Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages ($249,101, 2022-2024); 3C Seed Grant from the Vice President for Research ($60,000, 2021-2022); Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation ($15,000, 2020-2021); Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative ($1,500, Fall 2020); Mapping Indigenous Worlds Lab ($3,000; Summer 2020); Office of Undergraduate Research (student researcher, 2018-present); Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative (course buyout, 2018-2019); Americas Center/Centro de las Américas ($2,000, 2017-2019).

"Bilingual and Intercultural Education in Guatemala." Independent Study (SPAN 4993, Summer 2021) to translate Aj Xol Héctor Rolando's B'ich Q'eqchi' (Canto Q'eqchi') from Spanish to English. With Mason Courter and Candies Taramona.

“Recreating the Archive.” Faculty Global Research with Undergraduate Students (Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation; with Rebecca Graham, CLAS 2017).

Podcast: “The Science of Colonial Silver: Rethinking the History of Mining and Metallurgy in the Early Americas.” History Hub: Kingdom, Empire, and Plus Ultra (University College Dublin), 8 August 2016.

Guest editor, Early Americas Digital Archive. Eleven digital critical editions of colonial-era texts translated, transcribed, and annotated by undergraduate and graduate students at UVa and William & Mary.

Wikipedia editor, “Literatura indígena” (SPAN 4500, Spring 2016). Students could choose to write seminar papers (individually) or Wikipedia pages (in groups) about indigenous literatures and cultures. Projects include: deities from Mesoamerica and the Andes; musical traditions of the Suyá people of Brasil; spiritual practices of the Achuar people of Ecuador; Nahua writer Hernando de Alvarado Tezozómoc; León Portilla’s Visión de los vencidos; modern retellings of Guaman Poma.

Selected Grants & Awards (2018-2023)

Associate Professor Book Fellowship, Karsh Institute of Democracy, UVa, Summer 2023
Elected Member, Institute of Andean Studies, Berkeley, CA, 2023
Research Excellence Award, Vice President for Research, University of Virginia, 2022
Democracy Initiative Working Group in Indigenous Studies, 2022-2024
National Science Foundation-National Endowment for the Humanities, Dynamic Language Infrastructure-Documenting Endangered Languages, 2022-2024
AHSS/VPR Collaborative Research Award (with Eve Danziger, Anthropology), UVA, Summer 2021
Mellon Faculty Fellow, Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, UVA, 2020-2021
Margaret Hannay Fellowship, Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender-Folger Shakespeare Library, July 2020
Faculty Summer Stipend for Research in the Humanities, UVA, Summer 2019
Mellon Faculty Fellow, Indigenous Arts Initiative (UVa), 2018-2019
American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2017-2018
Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Fellowship, Huntington Library, Pasadena, CA, 2017-2018
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New Cabell Hall 433
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