I am a historian of Latin America with a specialization in the economic and social history of free people of African descent in Bourbon New Spain. I received my Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University. My first book project is called, “Taxing Blackness: Free-colored Tribute in Colonial Mexico.” The manuscript examines taxation in the Atlantic world of the eighteenth century from the perspectives of free Afromexican taxpayers and bureaucrats charged with evaluating the potential profitability of colonialism and colonial subjects. “Taxing Blackness” uses royal tribute registers to show how bureaucrats and local officials structured communities around shared financial obligations. Individuals and families recorded on these registers often became petitioners for tax relief, interpreting and deploying ideas about lineage and privilege to improve their economic lives and reputations. What emerges in this work is a varied group of local officials, bureaucrats in Mexico and Spain, and tributary subjects whose interactions shaped institutional understandings of blackness, subjecthood, and genealogy over the course of the eighteenth century.
My research contributes to the fields of women’s and gender history, Africana and Latin American Studies, and history of the Atlantic World. My teaching interests also include world history before 1900, music and its relationship to race and identity, and religion in the Iberian Empires. I have co-taught two seminars on the early modern Atlantic World, in queer studies and comparative slavery. I am Visiting Assistant Professor in Latin American History at Northern Arizona University. For inquiries about my teaching and research, please contact me at Norah.L.A.Gharala@gmail.com or @NorahLAGharala.
For fun, I enjoy my low-budget stamp collection and attending concerts. I am a classically trained dramatic soprano, violinist, and violist. I also like learning new languages, travel, and poetry. At present, I am learning elementary spoken Punjabi. My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, Nâzım Hikmet, Pablo Neruda, John Agard, Elizabeth Bishop, and Hafiz.