AHA Member Spotlight: Bianca Premo
Bianca Premo is a professor of history at Florida International University. She also is currently the vice president and president-elect of the Conference on Latin American History. She lives in Miami, Florida, and has been a member since 2002.
Alma maters: BA, University of South Carolina at Aiken, 1992; MA, University of Arizona, 1995; PhD, University of North Carolina, 2001
Fields of interest: Latin America, childhood, law
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today? While my family of origin is highly educated, many in my extended family are smart folks who did not go to college. I am a proud graduate of only public institutions. I made my way through school with employment (three jobs while enrolled full-time at one point as an undergraduate!), student loans, tuition waivers, and fellowships. The PhD I earned has “paid off.” Sitting at long tables in archives in multiple countries in Latin America, I have lost hours and days in the elusive search of getting to know people who are long gone. I have experienced professional life at a variety of institutions, including during residential fellowships where being able to “just write” nurtured intellectual friendships that still sustain me. I teach students who are passionate about becoming historians and who thrill at documents as I do. In other words, I have had opportunities that many who started with even more privileges than I had increasingly do not have. I try to translate my gratitude for this into a commitment to ensuring that the academy, in its best form, opens its doors wider to professional historians from ever more diverse backgrounds and new, up-and-coming universities.
What do you like the most about where you live and work? Pastelitos de queso and café con leche, brilliant students who also know how to work hard, and sunshine.
What projects are you currently working on? My first book was about law and childhood in colonial Lima. Since then, I deepened my study of law with another book on civil litigation and the Enlightenment in the Spanish Empire, especially Mexico and Peru. But I have sustained an interest in the history of youth and children throughout—a topic that I believe still is not recognized for its radical challenge to deeply rooted cultural assumptions about power, bodies, and temporality. My next two projects involve a return to the history of childhood but also a voyage to my terra incognita: the 20th century. One, for which I have been awarded an ACLS Fellowship in 2018–9, is about a Peruvian girl who became known as the youngest mother in the world. The other is a study of transnational Latin American rites of passage.
Why is membership in the AHA important to you? Whether it is through sharing strategies for teaching and spreading the gospel of history during times of declining enrollment, rethinking the way we use archives and technology, or heated debates about our profession’s (sometimes closed) past and its (open) future, the AHA provides a platform for many of us to share diverse approaches to and visions of the discipline. I also cannot say enough about the supportive relationship between the AHA and the affiliated society the Conference on Latin American History, which strives to make itself an organizational home for those who are dedicated to the region’s history.
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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