Dr. Laura Matthew, associate professor of history at Marquette University, has been named the 2014-15 Way Klingler Sabbatical Award winner. The annual award is granted based on prior scholarly research and potential for substantive contribution to the discipline.
Matthew will spend her yearlong sabbatical conducting research in Guatemala and Mexico for her next book, Circulations: Death and Opportunity on the Mesoamerican Pacific Coast, 1450-1660. In it, she asks whether Spanish conquest radically altered indigenous trade and migration along the Pacific coast of Guatemala and El Salvador, and explores the resulting cultural impact. She also plans to continue her work with a linguistic anthropologist from the University of Texas at Austin on a project analyzing the historical evolution of Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec empire, in Central America.
Matthew’s first book, Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala, won the Howard Francis Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History of the American Historical Association, a prize established in 1976 rewarding a book or article which make the most significant contribution to the history of Indians in Latin America.
“This work is important because the Pacific Coast is notoriously ignored in Guatemalan history,” Matthew said. “Many of the region’s contemporary inhabitants trace their history to pre-colonial times yet they have not been incorporated into larger national conversations about ethnicity, identity and civil rights.”