Personal profile

Research interests

I am lecturer in colonial Latin American history in the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies. My research focuses on black knowledge and cultural geographies in New Granada (Colombia) and the Caribbean. My teaching explores black and indigenous knowledge production, slavery, and religion in Spanish America and the early modern world. 

I recently co-edited a special issue of Slavery & Abolition, "Captive Mobilities: Movement, Slavery, and Knowledge Production in the Iberian World." 

See my own article, "Enslavement between Worlds: Manuel Zapata’s Many Captive Mobilities" here:

Abstract: This article centres on mobilities of Manuel Francisco Zapata, a Black man of Wolof descent, born and raised a Muslim in Meknes, Morocco. Captured and enslaved by the Spanish, he lived for several years in Seville, and was then trafficked to Cartagena de Indias and Panama City before being tried by the Inquisition for ‘Apostatic, Judaic propositions.’ His life narrative allows a glimpse of the multiplicity of captive mobilities—coerced movement through military labour, capture, imprisonment, the trans-Atlantic voyage, arrest, and exile—that enslaved Africans endured. Captivity on the move was central to the condition of enslavement.

My 2022 article (available open access) “Transimperial mobilities, slavery, and becoming Catholic in eighteenth-century Cartagena de Indias” examines the tranimsperial mobilities of enslaved sailors and their circulation of religious knowledge through Inquisition trial records.

I am finishing a book about black religions in New Granada. "Between Waters and Forests: Black Religious Geographies of Eighteenth-Century Colombia" will be first full-length study on African-descended religion in eighteenth-century New Granada. Focusing on New Granada’s Caribbean and Pacific coastal regions and the territories that connect them rather than the Viceroyalty’s imperial and geographic centre, the book examines sites that were shaped by slavery and which had large black, indigenous, and Afro-indigenous populations. Examining the Caribbean (the provinces of Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta, and Riohacha), Antioquia, and the Pacific (Chocó and Popayán), "Between Waters and Forests" argues that place, space imbued with meaning, played a constitutive role in black religious practice. 

My second project, for which I received the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship which I held from 2020-2023, explores black mobilities and shared histories of slavery and freedom between Jamaica and Colombia. 

I received the Atlantic Studies Early Career Prize for my 2021 article “Black knowledge on the move: African diasporic healing in Caribbean and Pacific New Granada." 

About the Atlantic Studies Early Career Prize 

The judges, Prof. David Lambert, University of Warwick and Prof. Brooke Newman, Virginia Commonwealth University, commended the article with the following: 'In “Black knowledge on the move: African diasporic healing in Caribbean and Pacific New Granada,” Bethan Fisk challenges conventional assumptions about the cultural geographies of the African diaspora and the construction of Black healing and ritual knowledge in seemingly distinct sites of enslavement. Using an impressive array of fragmentary judicial records, she shows how African-descended healers in Caribbean and Pacific New Granada moved in and between Atlantic and Pacific regions, creating and exchanging Black healing and religious practices through everyday movement and interactions.'



  • Slavery
  • Colonialism
  • New Granada
  • Colombia
  • Place
  • Religion and Environment
  • Knowledge production
  • Latin America
  • Caribbean
  • Pacific


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