Wesleyan portrait of Valeria  López Fadul

Valeria López Fadul

Assistant Professor of History

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Assistant Professor, Latin American Studies

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BA Yale University
MA Princeton University
PHD Princeton University

Valeria López Fadul

Valeria López Fadul is an Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies and an Assistant Editor for History & Theory. She studies the intellectual and cultural history of colonial Latin America and early modern Spain, with a focus on the philosophy of language and the history of science.

López Fadul researches how knowledge was made and circulated in early Latin America and across the Iberian world. She teaches courses on the history of colonial and modern Latin America, science in the early modern Atlantic, urban and environmental history, and the Amazon.

López Fadul’s book, The Cradle of Words: Language and Knowledge in the Sixteenth-Century Spanish Empire (under advance contract), reconstructs the beliefs and practices with which sixteenth-century humanists, missionaries, and crown officials governed Spanish America’s multilingual domains. It shows that while the multiplicity of languages made governing difficult, these scholars also perceived it as a resource. To those charged with extracting knowledge from Spain’s rapidly expanding empire, language was an archive of local knowledge. In order to access and catalogue it, the Spanish Crown sponsored scientific expeditions, comprehensive censuses, the writing of local and universal histories, and the creation of libraries. The Cradle of Words reveals how these ambitious projects sought to collectively master the human and natural history of the Indies.

López Fadul received a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. In 2020-21, she was a Member in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ). She has received fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, and the John Carter Brown Library. Before coming to Wesleyan, López Fadul was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago and a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.


Book Manuscript in Progress:

The Cradle of Words: Language and Knowledge in the Spanish Empire

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters:

“Juan Páez de Castro and the Project of a Universal Library,” in Wars of Knowledge: Imperial Hegemony and the Assembling of Libraries Forum, Pacific Coast Philology, Vol. 52, No. 2, 2017, pp. 173-183.

“Language as Archive: Etymologies and the Remote History of Spain,” in Mercedes García-Arenal (ed.), After Conversion: Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity, (Leiden: Brill, 2016), pp. 95-125.

“Aurel Stein’s Methods and Aims in Archaeology on the Silk Road,” in Helen Wang (ed.), Sir Aurel Stein, Colleagues and Collections, British Museum Research Publication 184, London 2012, pp. 1–7.

Web-Based Publications:

“A Cacique By Any Other Name: Or Etymologies in Translation from London to the Caribbean,” in The Collation: Research and Exploration at the Folger (Folger Shakespeare Library, December 2020). 

“Language and the Ancient History of a New World,” in Contextos (Center for Latin American Studies, The University of Chicago, January 2017).




Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Fall 2023:  Thursdays, 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Please note that my office is located in PAC swing space 318 High Street, room 305.


Spring 2024
HIST 245 - 01
Modern Latin America Since1810

HIST 356 - 01
Between Worlds

Fall 2024
HIST 173 - 01
IH: Heretics on Trial

HIST 300 - 02
Issues Contemp Historiography