College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Santa Arias

Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department Chair
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 2618
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045-7594


Santa Arias (Ph.D. Wisconsin). Her current teaching and research highlight the critical importance of space and place in the construction of identities, and studies of religion, colonialism, and representations of cultural difference. She deploys a comparative approach to colonial Latin American texts and visual representations from a hemispherical and transoceanic perspectives. Her transdisciplinary critical approach and heavy reliance on archival research distinguish her training of students and her own contributions to the advancement of scholarship in colonial studies. 

She has published numerous essays in academic journals and edited volumes. Her books include Retórica, historia y polémica: Bartolomé de las Casas y la tradición intelectual renacentista (2001) and four co-edited volumes: Mapping Colonial Spanish America: Places and Commonplaces of Identity, Culture and Experience (2002), Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Bartolomé de las Casas (2008), The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2008), and Coloniality, Religion, and the Law in the Early Iberian World (2013). Her second book, The Nature of Empire: Geo/graphing the Spanish American Tropics during the Enlightenment, explores the centrality of geographical thinking in late colonial historical discourses regarding Spanish controlled territories. For this book project she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a CIES/Fulbright Fellowship to Colombia. Her ongoing projects include: Spaces of Conversion in Colonial Latin America: From Sacred Texts to Contested Territories and Insula Puertoricensis: The Spanish Colonial Historical Cartography of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Santa Arias is an active member of the profession at the university, national, and international levels. This includes service for the International Latin American Studies Association Bryce Wood Book Award Committee (2011) and as Program Track Chair (2009, 2013); Modern Language Association Honors and Awards Committee (2010-13), and KU Center for Latin American Studies Graduate Studies Committee (2010-2013).



Our Statement on Diversity in support of Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk and the University of Kansas Black Student Union’s efforts to combat racism.
The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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