Laura E. Matthew

MatthewHeadShot copyI am a historian of colonial Guatemala, and associate professor of Latin American history at Marquette University.

I’m interested in how people recreate community and identity after long migrations and/or in radically changed circumstances.

My book Memories of Conquest, winner of the 2013 Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize and the 2013 Murdo MacLeod Prize, tells the story of thousands of Nahuas and Oaxacans who invaded Guatemala alongside the Spanish in the 1520s. Some remained in Central America as colonists, creating an exalted position for themselves as both “Indians” and “conquistadors.”

As it turned out, other scholars were noticing similar patterns throughout the region. Hence the edited volume I did with Michel Oudijk in 2007, Indian Conquistadors.

My current research looks at the circulation of goods and people along the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Guatemala, and El Salvador from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. I’m also director of the collaborative digital project Nahuatl/Nawat in Central America.

In addition to generous support from Marquette, I have received grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies; the American Philosophical Society; the Newberry Library (Mellon Long Term Fellowship); the U.S. Department of Education (Fulbright-Hays); and the Research Institute for the Study of Man.

Hat tip to Rudy Girón at for the picture of the card catalog at the Fundación Cultural Duane Carter Library in Antigua, Guatemala, above. Many of these card catalogs are still in service, including at the Archivo General de Centroamérica (about which more here). I’m quite fond of them.



  Adriana Vazquez wrote @

Hello, your field of research is interesting to me and I’m curious to know where you completed your graduate education. Thank you!

  lauraematthew wrote @

Hi Adriana, I received a Masters from the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Latin American Studies, and did my doctoral work with Nancy Farriss (now retired) at the University of Pennsylvania.

  s. packard wrote @

Hi Laura, I summarized some of your work in a blog post about Guatemalan place-names. Thought you’d like to know. Feel free to make comments/corrections –

  lauraematthew wrote @

That’s a nice blog you’ve got there. Thanks for the cites and I made some other reading and viewing suggestions there — couldn’t resist!

  Sol Nocturno wrote @

Hi, i am a nahuat pipil student in El Salvador, i´m interesting about colonial documents

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