Javier Villa-Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor of Latin American and Latino studies and history, has been named a fellow of the National Humanities Center for the 2015-16 academic year.
Villa-Flores, who studies religious issues, colonialism, performance studies and the social history of language in colonial Mexico, will join 36 other distinguished scholars from 32 institutions across the United States and eight foreign countries working on a wide array of projects. He will also have opportunities to participate in seminars, lectures and conferences.
Villa-Flores, who is the fourth UIC scholar to be selected since the center opened in 1978, will work on his project "Perjurers, Impersonators, and Liars: Public Faith and the Dark Side of Trust in Eighteenth-Century Mexico."
The project explores the history of trust and deception in 18th-century Bourbon Mexico by focusing on the representation, prosecution and punishment of "crimes of falsity"-forgery of official documents and seals, impersonation of secular and religious ministers, counterfeiting, alteration of weights and measures, and perjury and false witnessing in legal courts.
His first book, "Carlo Ginzburg: The Historian as Theoretician" (University of Guadalajara, 1995), offered an epistemological discussion of the historian's craft focusing on Carlo Ginzburg's work. His second book, "Dangerous Speech: A Social History of Blasphemy in Colonial Mexico" (University of Arizona Press, 2006), analyzes the representation, prosecution and punishment of blasphemous speech in New Spain from 1520 to 1700.
His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library and the Institute for the Humanities at UIC. In 2014, he received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Mid-Career Faculty Award.
The National Humanities Center, located in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina, is an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities. Since its opening, the center has awarded fellowships to more than 1,300 scholars in the humanities, whose work at the center has resulted in the publication of more than 1,500 books in all fields of humanistic study.