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Javier Villa-FloresAssociate Professor

Javier Villa-Flores was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He received his B.A. degree in Sociology from the University of Guadalajara, and his doctorate in Latin American History from the University of California, San Diego. His work revolves around issues of religion, colonialism, performance studies, and the social history of language in colonial Mexico. His first book Carlo Ginzburg: The Historian as Theoretician (University of Guadalajara, 1995) offered an epistemological discussion of the historian's craft focusing on Carlo Ginzburg's work. His second book, Dangerous Speech: A Social History of Blasphemy in Colonial Mexico (University of Arizona Press, 2006) analyzes the representation, prosecution and punishment of blasphemous speech in New Spain from 1520 to 1700.

Professor Villa-Flores' current project builds upon the methodological and archival expertise accumulated in his previous work, but opens new research avenues by exploring the cultural, political, and socioeconomic implications of the use and abuse of trust in colonial Mexico. While his previous book studied trials for blasphemy to illuminate the socio cultural dimensions of the notion of danger in a colonial setting, his new book in progress explores the ways in which elites and popular groups of the past have managed or "mismanaged" risk under colonialism. Focusing on the representation, prosecution, and punishment of "crimes of falsity" in Bourbon New Spain (forgery, impersonation, counterfeiting, alteration of weights and measures, and perjury), this work explores the historical relationship between excessive trust and risk in an era obsessed with the protection and enforcement of trustworthiness in the economic, political, and social spheres. Offshoots of this project have been published in the Jahrbuch fur Lateinamerikas Geschichte, the Colonial Latin American Review, and the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series. Recent publications include "A remedy and a Poison: Perjury and Trust in Bourbon Mexico", Colonial Latin American Review, vol. 29:3 (2020), 495-516.

In addition to these projects, Professor Villa-Flores has also involved in several collaborative endeavors over the years, including a special issue on "Archives, Power, and Truth in Latin America" coedited with Carlos Aguirre for the Jahrbuch für Lateinamerikas Geschichte (2009), an edited volume on Emotions and Daily Life in Colonial Mexico with Sonya Lipsett-Rivera (New Mexico University Press, 2015), an edited volume on The Destruction of Libraries and Archives in Latin America with Carlos Aguirre (North Carolina State University, 2015), and a special issue on Imposture, Religion, and Identity Fashioning in Colonial Mexico for Colonial Latin American Review (2008).

Professor Villa-Flores has a wide array of teaching interests, including courses related to popular religion, censorship, religious crimes, memory, and colonialism in Latin America. For Fall 2022, Professor Villa-Flores will teach the following courses: Latin American Millenarian Movements in Latin America, and Heroes, Martyrs, and their Cults in Modern Latin America.

Professor Villa-Flores research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, the National Humanities Center, the Max Planck Institute for European Law, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University.


  • PhD, University of California-San Diego, 2001
  • MA, University of California-San Diego, 1998
  • BA, University of Guadalajara, 1990

Research and Teaching   

  • Colonial Mexico
  • Colonial Latin America
  • Latin American history