Ernesto Mercado-Montero is a Mellon Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of History. He is a historian of the African diaspora in the Atlantic World with an emphasis on the Caribbean basin. Currently, he is working on a book manuscript that offers a revisionist history of Antillean geopolitics in the period between the Spanish conquest of Puerto Rico in the 1510s and the French Revolutionary Wars in the 1790s. This project illuminates how the autonomous Carib Indian society influenced the development of the early-modern Antilles to the same extent as Spain, England, Holland, and France. The Caribs were an Afro-Indigenous group of formidable seafarers, warriors, and diplomats who evolved into independent slave traders, smugglers, and prolific planters, fully integrating themselves into the Atlantic World’s politics and economy. By centering the history of the Caribbean on the Carib society, Professor Mercado-Montero demonstrates the significance of Black Indigenous people in the geopolitical configuration of plantation societies in the Antilles.
Professor Mercado-Montero’s teaching philosophy pushes against narratives which relegate the rich and complex history of the Black diaspora to themes of loss and oppression. Far from whitewashing early-modern racial violence, colonialism, and the slave trade, Professor Mercado-Montero underscores how the formation of the New World was a culturally entangled process of contact, symbiosis, and competition wherein African descendants were crucial. In the classroom, Professor Mercado-Montero emphasizes African descendants’ resilience, agency, and power in forging new geographies, notions of sovereignty and authority, trans-imperial markets, and nascent forms of global capitalism in the Atlantic World. As an Afro-Latino scholar and an immigrant himself, Professor Mercado-Montero is passionate about mentoring first-generation and underrepresented students through their academic development.
Professor Mercado-Montero was born in Bogotá City and was raised in the Colombian Caribbean. As a teenager, his family migrated to Madrid, Spain, where he attended college before moving to the United States. His scholarship has been generously supported by different institutions, such as The Social Science Research Council (DPDF and Mellon IDRF programs), The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, The Library Company of Philadelphia, The History Project at Harvard University, as well as The John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies and The Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.