Associate Professor of Colonial Studies. She received her Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley in 2004, and before returning to the Bay Area in 2009, she taught at the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching make connections between the past and the present which try to show the relevance of the colonial period for an understanding of contemporary times. She was co-director of the Berkeley research group “Mexico and the Rule of Law.” She has written a book and a series of articles on the Jesuits (José de Acosta and Loyola, and Jesuits in the northern borderlands of New Spain) as a particularly influential politico-religious order that served modernization and the expansion of the Spanish empire.
She is currently working on the drainage of the lakes of Mexico City, and on the role of the colonization of Spanish America from the 15th century onward in the development of new epistemologies and political theories. In the latter she is exploring the ways in which both the unprecedented violence of conquest and colonization, and the need for effective administration of the colonies, brought about important theoretical, technological, and epistemological changes which may have been conceived to be put in place in the colonies, but which in the long run transformed the way Europe understood and fashioned itself.