Dr Roberto J Gonzalez-Casanovas

BA(Hons), MA, MTheolStud, PhD (Harvard)


  • Associate Professor of Spanish

Research | Current

  • Early-modern Iberian, Mediterranean, trans-Atlantic cross-cultural studies (history, literature, religion)
  • Colonial Latin America (Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay)
  • Historiography of voyages, missions, utopias, dystopias
  • Historicism, postcolonialism
  • Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese

Early-Modern Iberian and Colonial Latin American studies (cross-cultural history, religion, literature): Medieval and Golden Age Spain; Colonial Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay; Catalan and Portuguese-Brazilian studies; Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic cross-cultural studies 1200-1800; Reconquest and Conquest cross-cultural historiography and iconography in relation to crusades, voyages, missions, utopias, dystopias.

Colonial / Postcolonial cultural-literary-religious criticism: Comparative studies of 'spiritual conquests' and ‘cultural conversions’ across colonial to postcolonial textual and critical traditions; cross-cultural encounters, historiography and historicism, subaltern studies, cultural myths and icons, multicultural identity and ethnicity, creolisation / mestizaje.

Current book-in-progress on colonial missions: González-Casanovas, R. J. Relocating the City of God in the Tropics: Jesuit Reductions of Brazil and Paraguay in Frontier Encounters, Missionary Foundations, Colonial Migrations and Postcolonial Receptions (cultural-historical-literary analysis of the evolution of mixed discourses of ‘spiritual conquest’ and ‘cultural conversion’ in colonial controversies, transnational historiographies and postcolonial critiques across diverse genres and disciplines).

Current book-in-planning on early-modern religious cultures: González-Casanovas, R. J. Spiritual Conquests and Accommodations: Cultural Politics of Conversion in Early-Modern Iberia and Ibero-America (cultural-historical-literary analysis of mixed discourses of conversion to Christianity from Judaism, Islam and indigenous religions, and problems of forced converts and renegades in comparisons of trans-Mediterranean and trans-Atlantic contexts).

Associate Professor Roberto Gonzalez-Casanovas's Research


Teaching | Current

Department: Latin American StudiesSchool of European Languages and LiteraturesSpanish


Associate Professor Roberto Gonzalez-Casanovas's Teaching

European Studies
Course Title Availability in 2012
EUROPEAN 203 Jewish Culture and Identity in Europe Not offered in 2012.
EUROPEAN 303 Jewish Culture and Identity in Europe Not offered in 2012.
EUROPEAN 703 Reinterpreting European Identities: Past and Present Semester 1
Latin American Studies
Course Title Availability in 2012
LATINAM 306 Latin American Icons: The Political Economy of Otherness Not offered in 2012.
Course Title Availability in 2012
SPANISH 103 Iberian and Latin American Civilisations Semester 1
SPANISH 202 Iberian Cultures and Literatures Semester 1
SPANISH 317 Hispanic Cultures in Cinema Not offered in 2012.
SPANISH 319 Advanced Spanish 1 Semester 1
SPANISH 321 Advanced Spanish 2 Semester 2
SPANISH 345 Peripheric Cultures and Literatures Semester 2
SPANISH 718 Hispanic Cultures in Cinema Not offered in 2012.
SPANISH 729 Latin American Icons: Political Economy of Otherness Not offered in 2012.


Postgraduate supervision

Thesis Supervision

Main supervisor of PhD thesis in progress: Marcelo Mendes de Souza, Comparative Literature, topic: For a Latin American Irony: Dialogic Misreadings in Machado de Assis’ and Jorge Luis Borges’ Intertextualities with English Narrative and Criticism.

Co-supervisor of PhD thesis completed in 2012 (main supervisor: Dr Walescka Pino-Ojeda): Carla Grosman, Spanish / Latin American, topic: La alegoría del viajero inmóvil: crisis y reconstrucción de la utopía en el cine latinoamericano de la era neoliberal.

Main supervisor of PhD thesis completed in 2008: Anwar Ashraf, Spanish, topic: Representing the Muslim “Other” in Spanish Renaissance Literature. (Thesis revised and PhD granted after transfer to Universidad de Córdoba, Spain)

Co-supervisor of MA thesis completed in 2008 (main supervisor: Dr Kathryn Lehman):
Emma Stone, Spanish / Latin American, topic: National and Subnational Movements in Latin America: Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. (First Class Honours)

Main supervisor of MA thesis completed in 2008: Kim Townshend, Spanish, topic: The Evolution of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza: Intertextuality from Cervantes to Unamuno and Greene. (First Class Honours)


Spanish Study Abroad Advisor (Spain); Spanish Graduate Advisor (2013 semester 1).

Areas of expertise

Research interests: Early-modern Iberian, Mediterranean, trans-Atlantic cross-cultural studies (history, literature, religion); colonial Latin America (Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay); historiography of voyages, missions, utopias, dystopias; historicism, postcolonialism; Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese.

Interdisciplinary by training, I hold five degrees from Harvard that combine cross-cultural studies with specialisations in English, French, Spanish and Latin American history, literature and religion. These interrelated interests have led to scholarly publications that include a total of 5 books and 60 articles since 1989. They range from medieval to early-modern cultural and literary studies on Iberia, the Mediterranean, and colonial Latin America. In 2006-2012 my interdisciplinary research has evolved: starting from comparative studies of multicultural empires and hybrid identities in late-medieval to early-modern Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese expansion across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, it has moved into cross-cultural revisionist historiography of colonial Latin American frontier missions in periods of crisis and transition from 1492 to 1800. My methodology involves comparative historical-literary analysis of colonial to postcolonial receptions of the religious-political discourses of conversion and civilisation, as well as of the myths of utopia and polemics of dystopia about the New World encounters. These receptions are traced across Europe and the Americas in Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and Latin textual and critical traditions.


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (Ed.) (2012). Reconfiguring Brazil: Interdisciplinary Essays. Auckland: New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies. Pages: 112.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2012). Double Agents of Conversion in Colonial Missions of Brazil and Paraguay. Paper presented at AILASA (Association of Iberian and Latin American Studies of Australasia) 10th Biennial Conference, Wellington. 4 July - 7 July 2012. Related URL.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2012). Mixed Views of Jews and Conversos in Brazil 1630-1654: From Colonial to Postcolonial Discourses of Convivencia. In R. J. Gonzalez-Casanovas (Ed.) Reconfiguring Brazil: Interdisciplinary Essays (pp. 1-14). Auckland: New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2012). Misiones jesuíticas en las fronteras de Brasil y Paraguay como (contra-)colonización. In Álvez A (Ed.) XIV JIMJ: Jornadas Internacionales sobre Misiones Jesuíticas: Memoria, Patrimonio, Cultura Viva, Simposio 10: Ponencia 3:-20. San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia: Universidad Católica Boliviana-Chiquitos.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2011). Colonial Brazil’s Frontier Identities in Mission Histories: Evolution and Revision. Paper presented at AULLA Australasian Universities Languages and Literature Association 36th Congress on Storytelling in Literature, Language and Culture, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. 7 February - 9 February 2011.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2011). Sephardi Jews' Mixed Roles in Iberian Convivencia: Models and Controversies. Paper presented at Limmud NZ Annual Conference, Auckland, New Zealand. 28 August - 28 August 2011. (pp. 10).
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2011). Mixed Views of Jews and Conversos in Brazil 1630-54: From Colonial to Postcolonial Discourses of Convivência. Paper presented at 14th New Zealand Jewish Studies Conference, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. 29 August - 30 August 2011.
  • Gonzalez-Casanovas, R. J. (2011). Jesuits’ Double Mission in Colonial Brazil from Nóbrega to Vieira: Postcolonial Critiques of Spiritual Conquest as Colonial Utopia/Dystopia. Paper presented at ANZAMEMS Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early-Modern Studies 8th Biennial International Conference, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. 2 February - 5 February 2011.

Contact details

Office hours

Semester Two 2013 (weeks one to six only): Thursday 1-2pm or by email consultation.

Students are asked to email queries, including full name and ID number.

Web links