Jorge Delgadillo is a recent PhD in History (Vanderbilt 2021), with interest in the history of the African Diaspora in Mexico and the Atlantic World at large during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. His research has been published by Slavery and Abolition, The Americas, and Historia Mexicana. His latest publication is a pioneering article about the slave market of 17th-century Guadalajara. Previously, he wrote an article about the vocabularies of difference and the workings of social differentiation processes in the Spanish empire during the late colonial period. He is also the author of a groundbreaking study of the historical memory about slavery, abolition, and Afro-descendants in the Mexican press of the 19th century.
Jorge also contributes to different digital humanities projects. Since 2016 he has been part of the Slave Societies Digital Archive, hosted at Vanderbilt University, for which he co-directed a project for the digitization of parish records from colonial Guadalajara. Before coming to PSU, he was the inaugural Slave Voyages postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, where he became part of the operational committee that runs the project, a position he still holds. Jorge is also part of an international project that aims to create a database of enslaved individuals using notarial sources from several Mexican cities.
While at PSU he will work on his first book manuscript that focuses on the abandonment of colonial classifications of difference in late-colonial and early-independent Guadalajara. After Mexico became independent in 1821, the first Mexican governments decided to prohibit the social classifications that existed during the colonial period and proclaimed the equality of everyone before the law. While this measure did open opportunities for otherwise marginalized peoples to improve their situation, it also led to the elision of entire populations, such as Afro-Mexicans, from the national memory. Under this light, my book addresses the following questions: When did people who during the colonial period used social classifications such as negro, mulato, morisco, or lobo stop using such designations? How did African peoples and their descendants, who had their own forms of identification, become negros, mulatos, moriscos and lobos in Mexico in the first place? Did they experience individual or collective identities structured around these classifications? How and why did people, who used these ascriptions for centuries, abandon them and substitute them for a homogenous label of “citizens” at the end of the colonial period? And what was the relationship between this process and the elision of Afro-Mexicans from the historical imaginary of the nation over time?