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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Hispanic Studies

Staff in the Department of Hispanic Studies

Go to the MLAC staff pages.

Dr Laura Leon Llerena, MA, PhD Princeton University

Assistant Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43426
Room number: A27, Elvet Riverside I

Contact Dr Laura Leon Llerena (email at laura.m.leonllerena@durham.ac.uk)

The larger frame of my work is concerned with the circulation in America and Europe of knowledge produced by and about indigenous peoples from the 16th to the 18th centuries. My published work has analyzed translation and colonization of indigenous languages, the complex coexistence of indigenous and European media, and the ways in which material culture and notions of the sacred and religion redefined social and cultural identities in early modern contexts. Methodologically and theoretically, my scholarship is anchored in literary studies with an interdisciplinary framework that draws on the fields of history, indigenous studies, and anthropology.

My teaching practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels encompasses colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial analysis of Latin American cultural productions from early modernity up to the 21st century. 

My current monograph Restoring the Illegible: Indigenous Writing and the Limits of Colonial Hegemony in the Andes focuses on the long first century of colonial Peru (1532-1648). It introduces the notion of legibility to discern the dynamic ways in which in a multi-lingual and multi-media colonial landscape, indigenous Andeans and colonizers articulated various epistemological strategies in their uses of alphabetic writing and indigenous media. Legibility emphasizes how the multiple practices of production of meaning were embedded in the constant negotiation of power in the religious, social and economic spheres, moving away from a traditional understanding of literacy that presuposes that the production of meaning was inherent to specific media.The monograph is under review at University of Texas Press.

Office Hours

In Michaelmas term: Mondays from 12:00-13:00 https://calendly.com/advising-leonllerena/15min

Research Interests

  • Colonial Latin American Literature and History
  • Ethnography of Writing
  • Indigenous and Native American Studies
  • Religion and Culture Studies

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Submitted Restoring the Illegible: Indigenous Writing and the Limits of Colonial Hegemony in the Andes (under review).

Book review

Chapter in book

  • Submitted 'Lecturas y lectores. La circulación de conocimiento y la construcción de una hegemonía cultural', in Gehbald, Agnes & Jiménez, Norah Edith (eds.), Libros en movimiento. Nueva España y Perú, siglos XVI-XVIII, El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico.
  • Accepted 'What Makes an Archive Indigenous?', in Haas, Lisbeth & Zappia, Natale (eds.), Indigenous Archives: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation, University of Nebraska Press.
  • 2016 'Manuscrito de Huarochirí (1598-1608): Ensayo introductorio, selección anotada de capítulos y bibliografía esencial', in Zamora, Margarita & Cortés, Rocío (eds.), Narradores indígenas y mestizos de México y Perú Siglos XVI y XVII, Centro de Estudios Literarios Antonio Cornejo Polar, pp. 321-346
  • 2004 (co-authored with Millones, Luis) 'Hechizos de amor: poder y magia en el norte del Perú', in Millones, Luis Tomoeda, Hiroyasu & Fujii, Tatsuhiku (eds.), Entre Dios y el Diablo, Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica, pp. 179-209

Journal Article

Translated Book

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Volkswagen Stiftung, Dahlem Humanities Center Freie Universität Berlin, Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities
  • 2016: John Carter Brown Library, Donald L. Saunders Long-Term Research Fellowship
  • 2016: Newberry Library, American Indian and Indigenous Studies Long-Term Faculty Fellowship (declined)
  • 2012: Northwestern University Weinberg College Fellow
  • 2008: Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion Graduate Research Fellow
  • 2005: Edward C. Armstrong Fellowship Fund, Princeton (2005-2009)
  • 2004: Eleanor Green Fellowship, Princeton