Casper Jacobsen

Casper Jacobsen

External Lecturer

I study the history and heritage of indigenous peoples across pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary Latin America. The span of my research reflects my curiosity about diverse kinds of discussions, empirical materials, and methodologies as well as my conviction that conceptions of indigeneity must be situated in the various historically anchored knowledge practices and social processes that generate them.

I am the author of Tourism and Indigenous Heritage in Latin America: As Observed through Mexico’s Magical Village Cuetzalan (Routledge, 2018). The book demonstrates how tourism initiatives centered on indigenous cultural heritage and recognition do not self-evidently empower indigenous citizens, showing how they may instead pave the way for extracting indigenous heritage as a national resource to the benefit of local elites and tourist visitors (reviewed in Journal of Latin American Studies; Journal of Heritage Tourism).

My current research project, The Missionary Dictionary: Native Words, Spanish Concepts, and Pre-Hispanic ‘Paganism’, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, studies religious terminology in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century missionary Nahuatl and Quechua dictionaries, exploring how—per medium of the dictionary—pre-existing Euro-Christian conceptions of 'paganism' reconceptualized the pre-Hispanic past in colonial society and founded still existing perceptions of indigeneity and indigenous history.

The Missionary Dictionary project springs from my past research project, Indigeneity in the Americas: Five Centuries of Culturalizing Traditions, funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark. The project explored how external accounts of indigenous peoples in Latin America, across time and sociopolitical settings, have centered on religious themes to mark out difference, a social process that originated with the Spanish colonial project and discursively moves indigenous life to an immaterial, sacred space, thereby undergirding the usurpation of indigenous peoples’ material worlds.

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