Karin Vélez joined the Macalester faculty in 2011 as Assistant Professor of pre-1800 Global History. She received her doctorate from the History Department of Princeton University in 2008. Her research interests include the history of the Atlantic World, early Modern Iberian and French empires, and popular religion.
Vélez is especially interested in spiritual encounters, comparative empire, the spread of Catholic devotion, the experience of indigenous women on the American frontiers, and the communal formulation of myths. In researching her manuscript, “Catholic Landings in the Early Modern World: Jesuits, Converts and the Collective Miracle of Loreto,” she followed a trail of documents from colonial and Jesuit archives in Lisbon, Sevilla, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Toronto, to missionary outposts in Québec and the Bolivian Amazon. Currently she is researching how Catholicism in the late 1600s was carried to new sites by refugees including Slavs from coastal Dalmatia, the Huron of Canada, and the Moxos Indians of Peru. Vélez is also investigating the roles of weeping, physical displacement, and failed miracles in religious belief. She has published and presented widely about flying Holy Houses, naming, gifting of wampum belts and other modes of transoceanic religious exchange.
Before coming to Minnesota, Vélez taught at Northeastern University, Duke University, and her undergraduate alma mater, Williams College, where she was a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellow in the pilot days of that national program. She has offered courses on oceans, magic and science, conquest and conversion, and cultural intermediaries, as well as introductions to world history and to writing in the humanities disciplines. Vélez finds both her teaching and research meet around the question of how the past must be reinvented and reframed to remain useful to the present.