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Pablo Sierra Silva Headshot

Pablo M. Sierra Silva

  • Associate Professor of History
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 2013

458 Rush Rhees Library
(585) 275-8354

Office Hours: TR 1:00pm-2:00pm


Global History

Research Overview

 My research is centered on the experiences of Africans and their descendants in colonial Mexico (New Spain), the Caribbean and Atlantic during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I am particularly interested in decentering traditional master-slave narratives by highlighting afro-indigenous interactions, interrogating archival practices and emphasizing microhistorical approaches to afrodescendiente history.

My first book, Urban Slavery in Colonial Mexico: Puebla de los Ángeles, 1531-1706 (Cambridge Press, 2018), reassesses the dynamics of the transatlantic slave trade to the city of Puebla and establishes that at least 20,000 people were sold in its slave market during the seventeenth century. By focusing on three distinctly urban spaces (the textile mill, the convent and the marketplace), I propose a spatial understanding of slavery in Spanish American cities. Urban Slavery demonstrates that by the end of the seventeenth century enslaved families and their allies successfully eroded the foundations of slaveholder power in colonial Puebla.

My second monograph project, “In the Wake of the Raid: Blackness, Piracy and the 1683 Sack of Veracruz,” examines the violent dispersal of over 1,000 people of African descent across various Caribbean and Atlantic settlements following Laurent de Graaf’s devastating attack on the port of Veracruz (in modern-day Mexico). Tracing the involuntary dispersal of this free and enslaved population to early Charleston (South Carolina), Petit-Goâve (Haiti) and other coastal communities opens new avenues of research on Caribbean piracy, the Black Atlantic and the circum-Caribbean. The raid also reveals the necessity and complexity of centering women’s history in buccaneering communities. This ongoing project is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library and the Ferrari Humanities Research Award.

I am also developing a documentary history on questions of freedom and slavery in Mexico from colonial times to the early national period. I profoundly believe in sharing the documents and sources that inform shared histories of struggle and empowerment in Mexico, the United States and beyond. I am happy to facilitate workshops at all levels (K-8, high school, Upward Bound, postgrad, community collectives). For more information or sample documents, please write me at

In the future I hope to develop a research project on the history of sport in modern Latin America. I teach (and greatly enjoy) my course on the history futebol/fútbol/soccer and its social, political, cultural and economic impact on Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and many other nations. 

I am thrilled to serve as an advisor for the University’s Latin American Studies minor. Please contact me if you are interested in declaring the LAS minor. For more information on the minor and the History courses that count for LAS, please write me directly and visit

Graduate Fields

I offer the following fields for the PhD qualifying examination. For explanations of fields, see the "Program Formulation" page in the Graduate Handbook.

Teaching Field: Colonial Latin America, Modern Latin America

Research Field: African Diaspora, Atlantic History, Ethnohistory, Colonial Latin America

I will be accepting graduate students for admission in Fall 2021.

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • HIST 150:  Colonial Latin America, Syllabus
  • HIST 151:  Modern Latin America, 1821-2014, Syllabus
  • HIST 154:  History of Latin America Through Soccer (1867-2014), Syllabus
  • HIST 200:  Gateway - Mexico through Time (1325-1800)
  • HIST 251/251W:  African Diaspora in Latin America, 1500-2000, Syllabus
  • HIST 255/W:  1492 and Beyond: Identity, Culture and Society in Colonial Latin America (co-taught with Prof. Ryan Prendergast, MLC/Spanish program)
  • HIST 350W/450:  History of Slavery in Latin America, Syllabus
  • HIST 386W/486:  The Other Atlantic: Ethnohistory, Memory and Chronicle

Select Publication Covers

Selected Publications

  • Urban Slavery in Colonial Mexico: Puebla de los Ángeles, 1531-1706. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • "Portuguese Encomenderos de Negros and the Slave Trade within Mexico, 1600-1675" Journal of Global Slavery 2, Vol. 3 (2017): 221-247.
  • “The Slave Trade to Colonial Mexico: Revising from Puebla de los Ángeles, 1590-1640.” In From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in Spanish America. Edited by Alex Borucki, David Eltis & David Wheat. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming 2017.
  • “The Persistence of the Slave Market in Seventeenth-Century Central Mexico” Slavery & Abolition 37, no. 2 (June 2015): 307-333. Co-authored with Tatiana Seijas.
  • "From Chains to Chiles: An Elite Afro-Indigenous Couple in Colonial Mexico, 1641-1688" Ethnohistory 62, no. 2 (April 2015): 196-219.