New Book from LALS Professor Jeffrey Erbig

LALS Professor Jeffrey Erbig has just published an exciting new book examining the spatial history of border making in southeastern South America

April 01, 2020


In his new book, Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met: Border Making in Eighteenth-Century South America (University of North Carolina Press), Erbig examines Indigenous responses to the largest imperial mapmaking expedition ever sent to the Americas, a Luso-Hispanic effort to create a border between Brazil and Spanish South America in the eighteenth century. Drawing upon archival research in more than two dozen archives in seven countries, Erbig demonstrates that interimperial border drawing was a response to Native sovereignty in such spaces, that Indigenous agents shaped where the border was drawn, and that afterward they appropriated it to their own purposes. Using geographic information systems (GIS), he is able to map archival records of Indigenous migrations toward the border after its drawing.

Erbig joined the LALS Department in 2017, after two years at the University of New Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. LALS students appreciate his dedication to quality instruction, his student-centered focus, and his research emphasis on southeastern South America.

Erbig's research addresses the intersections of space, mobility, and colonialism. On one hand, he considers how spatial configurations that emerged in colonial contexts – borders, territorialized states, sedentary populations – have structured historical remembrances of Native pasts, with significant consequences for Indigenous Americans today. On the other hand, he studies relationships between shifting spatial ideologies and the forced migration of Indigenous Americans, African Americans, convicts, and others. Broadly speaking, his research considers how colonial pasts continue to structure the world today.

Erbig has begun work on a new project addressing forced migrations to and within the Americas. He is examining the underlying logics of deportation via a historical analysis of its connections to criminal punishment and Indigenous land dispossession. With support from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation, and the Hellman Fellows Program, he will conduct archival research in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Spain during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Erbig's research has been published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, appearing in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Ethnohistory, the History of Cartography Project, and numerous regional venues.

At UCSC, Erbig is affiliated with the Research Center for the Americas, and he teaches courses on southern South America, Indigenous histories, digital mapping and human geographies, research design, and unfree migrations.

Outside of work, Erbig can usually be found running, hiking, gardening, motorcycling, or traveling with friends and family.