Bethan Fisk

Bethan Fisk


Summary: African-descended religion in the Americas and the Atlantic world; slavery; race, gender, and culture in the Caribbean and Latin America

I am a historian of the Caribbean, colonial Latin America, and the Atlantic world and a Teaching Fellow in Caribbean History. I specialize in the history of Afro-Latin America and the African diaspora, with a focus on race, gender, and religion. My PhD in History is from the University of Toronto, where I was a Natalie Zemon Davis Fellow, and have a BA in Historical Studies and an MA in Early Modern and Medieval History at the University of Bristol.

Research interests

I am currently working on a book manuscript, Black Religions on the Move: Mobility and Spiritual Politics in Eighteenth-Century Colombia, the first full length study on African-descended religion in New Granada. Using trial testimonies, governmental correspondence, and ecclesiastical records from fourteen archival and printed book collections in Colombia, Spain, and the United States, the book rewrites the history of early modern New Granada as transculturally diasporic, spanning the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific worlds. With a focus on gender, materiality, and constructions of black criminality, this research illustrates how the Black Atlantic and the Pacific intersected along Colombia’s extensive river network through black mobilities and the circulation of African-descended epistemologies and ritual objects. My second book project, Transimperial Blackness: Slavery and Freedom in Jamaica and New Granada, will examine the interconnected political and cultural histories of people of African descent in Jamaica and the Viceroyalty of New Granada during the eighteenth century. Jamaica and Colombia, rarely considered together yet just 500 miles apart (approximately the distance from Aberdeen to London), have shared histories of the slave trade and black freedom. The vast majority of enslaved people brought to the Colombian Caribbean port of Cartagena de Indias in the 1700s came through the British asientos (the Spanish slave trade contract system), and the majority of captives arrived from or through Jamaica. Transimperial Blackness will examine the shared history of black communities in Jamaica and New Granada in a study that seeks to recast understandings of the slave trade, inter-Caribbean and intra-American mobilities, and the Black Atlantic.

Selected Publications

Black Religions on the Move: Mobility and Spiritual Politics in Eighteenth-Century Colombia (in progress) 

2020   “Black Knowledge on the Move: African diasporic healing in Caribbean and Pacific New Granada” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents (Forthcoming)

2019    “The Island Where We Were Born,” Transition: The Magazine of Africa and the Diaspora, no. 127: “Afro-Latin America Rising,” (May 2019), pp. 182-190, Indiana University Press on behalf of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University DOI: 10.2979/transition.127.1.18

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

At Leeds, I teach undergraduate modules that cover Caribbean history from the early modern period to the present and contribute to team-taught modules from first year to taught postgraduate levels.