UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

Interview with Graduate Student Sarah Zamir

What motivated you to study Latin America?

I’ve always been interested in colonial history. I come from a family with an intense passion for history and politics. But the catalyst to my graduate career began while working as a research assistant to Professor Juan Cobo, and learning how to read Spanish Paleography. Acquiring this skill brought me to appreciate and question what I had learned during grade school, due to the nature of some of the documents I had encountered, and motivated me to bring my curiosity into my graduate career.

Why do you believe it’s important to study Latin America?

To be frank, we are in an age of ignorance. I grew up in California, and many people I have met do not know, or completely misunderstand the history of areas such as Santa Barbara, and the greater Central California coast. By studying Latin America and its history, I hope to one day help others see a more complex, yet realistic understanding of Latin America, and how that history directly relates to California’s history.

What are you currently researching/or planning to research, and why is it important to you?

I’m currently researching Legal and Religious histories, including religious conversion among Indigenous groups in the Andean region during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I grew up with exposure to multiple views concerning religion, and divinity at a young age which I believe is what spurs my curiosity. There are many teachings, practices, and policies in various world religions that I find fascinating, especially the topic of conversion because as I have noticed it is usually a very taboo subject. Ultimately, studying this topic is important to me because it is a topic often overlooked.

Any interests beyond Academia that you would like others to know about?

It’s difficult to find free time when school is in session, but my favorite things to do include going on long walks with my dog, or binge watching ‘True Detective’ on HBO. Over the breaks and holidays I enjoy reading a wide range of authors from Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Hunter S. Thompson.