Ana María Presta

Latin American History, Buenos Aires
Fellowship: 01.02.–31.07.2017



Ana María PRESTA has a BA in History from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina, and a M. A. and Doctorate from The Ohio State University (United States of America). Currently, she is Professor at the University of Buenos Aires’ Department of History, Principal Researcher at the National Council of Scientific Research (CONICET), and Chair of the Latin American History Program (PROHAL) at the Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana »Dr. Emilio Ravignani« (UBA), where she supervises a team of young scholars doing research on the Southern Andes. As professor and mentor, she has advised ten Ph.D dissertations and a dozen of undergraduate thesis. She is the author of »Encomienda, Familia y Negocios en Charcas Colonial. Los Encomenderos de La Plata, 1550-1600« and editor of »Espacio, Etnías, Frontera. Atenuaciones Políticas en el Sur del Tawantinsuyu and Aportes multidisciplinarios al estudio de los colectivos étnicos Surandinos. Reflexiones sobre Qaraqara-Charka, tres años después.« Her articles were pubulished in »Runa,« »Andes,« »Memoria Americana,« »Anuario del IEHS,« »Población y Sociedad,« »Revista Andina,« »Histórica,« »Historia y Cultura,« »Anuario del Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales de Bolivia,« »Revista de Indias,« »Revista de Estudios Extremeños,« »Colonial Latin American Review,« »Hispanic American Historical Review,« »Revista Complutense de Historia de América and Americanía,« among others. Her research results have also been published in editions on ethnicity, genders, family, and material culture on early Andean Colonial society. She has attended to many conferences, congresses, workshops, and seminars in Argentina, Latin America, Europe, and the USA. She is a member of the CONICET Qualification and Promotion Committee and member of the UBA Evaluation Board of the Humanities. Grants, Fellowships, and Research Projects have been awarded by several argentine and foreign agencies, like CONICET, UBA, Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, Fundación Antorchas, The Ohio State University, Tinker Foundation, National Endowment of the Humanities, Center for Historical Research at Ohio State University, The Organization of American States (OEA), Escuela de Estudios Hispano- Americanos (CSIC, Spain), Fundación Carolina (Spain), Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Spain). At the moment, she is the director of »Surandino Monográfico« (the Latin American History Program, PROHAL, electronic review) while serving in the editorial board of »Colonial Latin American Review,« »Boletín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana ›Dr. Emilio Ravignani,‹« »Cuadernos de Historia,« among other periodicals.


Fields of Research

  • Colonial society
  • Family history
  • Andean Ethnohistory
  • Women
  • Gender
  • Material culture
  • Miscegenation


Project outline

Challenging the rules of habits and the habitus. Widows and Nuns in Colonial Charcas, 1550-1650


This research focuses on widows and nuns in the Southern Andes. I will portray first, the encomenderos’ widows between 1550-1650, whose profiles will include their passage to America, dowries, administrative documents, and their husbands’ and their own wills in an attempt to show life’s itineraries within a specific sociopolitical context and agency. Widows in colonial Latin America were women who as their European counterparts enjoyed freedom to contract, administrate their estates, lend and borrow money, buy, sell, or rent their assets, inherit or bequeath property, or appear in court as well as any emancipated women (Arrom 1985: 58, 61). Elite widows could exert considerable influence in pushing the boundaries of prescription. Their privileged positions contributed to what they could choose and accomplish (Cushing Flint 2013: 10). However, liberty of action, voices, and free agency were intersected and curtailed by ethnicity, class, and gender constraints. Poor Spanish, indigenous, mestizo, or casta widows were more vulnerable within the patriarchal colonial society.

Convents were the locus for another type of marriage. Far from the ideal house for religious service and meditation, convents were defined as »parking lots for women« (Vigil 1994: 208-ss), where those confined lived very far from spiritual expectations. Nunneries were the smash box of the civil colonial society, with the same inner inequalities and ranks, showing the differences of an Ancient Regime culture and hierarchies. Both, love to God and love to male partners could happen inside the convents. From the Sixteenth Century onwards, Convents were central to the reproduction of colonial society. The cloisters were replicas of the outside world (el siglo, the century), where the elites sent their unmarried daughters to be raised and educated and to be maintained by dowries whose revenues were administered to keep an adequate life style. Dowries in the cloister were important but lower than those the elite paid to marry one of its maiden daughters to a high rank man. This research will introduce the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, the second nunnery founded in the Viceroyalty of Peru, established in La Plata in 1574.


Publications (Selection)

  • Encomienda, familia y negocios en Charcas Colonial. Los encomenderos de La Plata, 1550-1600. 2da. Edición revisada. Sucre: Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales de Bolivia / Fundación Cultural del Banco Central de Bolivia/Banco Central de Bolivia, 2014 – ISBN 978-99954-866-9-3.
  • »Doña Isabel Sisa, A Sixteenth Century Indian Woman: Resisting Gender Inequalities.« In The Human Tradition in Colonial Latin America. Second Edition. Kenneth J. Andrien ed., 47-62. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2013 - ISBN 978-1-4422-1298-5.
  • »Entre la vara y los indios. La sociedad de Charcas frente a parejas imposibles, 1560-1580.« Allpanchis 71. Instituto de Pastoral Andina, 1er Semestre de 2008 (Cuzco 2011), 113-139 – ISSN 0252-8835.
  • »Estados Alterados. Matrimonio y vida maridable en Charcas temprano-colonial.« Población y Sociedad 18:1 (Tucumán 2011): 79-105 – ISSN 0328-3445.
  • »Desde la Plaza a los Barrios. Pinceladas étnicas tras las casas y las cosas. Españoles e indios en la ciudad de La Plata, Charcas 1540-1620.« Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos, an electronic review, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales nro. 10 (2010) [on line] - ISSN 1626-0252
  • »Undressing the Coya and Dressing the Indian Women. Market Economy, Clothing, and Identities in the Colonial Andes, La Plata (Charcas), Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries.« Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 90:1 (2010): 41-74 - ISSN 0018-2168.
  • »Indígenas, españoles y mestizaje en la región andina.« In Historia de las mujeres en España y América Latina. Pilar Pérez Cantó y Asunción Lavrin coords., 555-581. Vol. II - Período Colonial. Madrid: Editorial Cátedra, 2005 – ISBN 84-376-2260-3.
  • »Devoción cristiana, uniones consagradas y elecciones materiales en la construcción de identidades indígenas urbanas. Charcas, 1550-1650.« Revista Andina 41, Segundo Semestre (Cuzco 2005): 109-130 – ISSN: PE – 0259-9600.
  • »Acerca de las primeras doñas mestizas de Charcas colonial, 1540-1590.« In Las Mujeres en la Construcción de las Sociedades Iberoamericanas. Pilar Gonzalbo Aizpuru y Berta Ares Queija coordinadoras, 41-62. Sevilla: EEHA-CSIC y COLMES, 2004 - ISBN 84-00-08223-0.
  • »Portraits of Four Women: Traditional Female Roles and Transgressions in Colonial Elite Families in Charcas, 1550-1600.« Colonial Latin American Review Vol. 9 No. 2 (December 2000), 237-262 – ISSN 1060-9164.