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Faculty and Staff

Norah L. A. Gharala
Assistant Professor


Office: 641 Agnes Arnold Hall

N. L. A. Gharala holds a BA in Latin American Studies from Wesleyan University and MA and PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining the department at University of Houston, Gharala taught world history and Latin American history in Arizona and New Jersey. Professor Gharala's book projects have received support from the Mellon Foundation and the Council on Library and Information Resources, the William M. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society.


  • Ph.D. in History, Johns Hopkins University (2014)
  • M.A. in History, Johns Hopkins University (2010)
  • B.A. in Latin American Studies, Wesleyan University (2007)

Research Interests

Professor Gharala studies colonial Mexico and its regional and global connections.  Gharala's first book, Taxing Blackness: Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain (University of Alabama Press, February 2019), examines taxation in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world from the perspectives of free Afromexicans, local officials, and fiscal bureaucrats. Using petitions and lawsuits related to royal tributes, free people of African descent sought to shape colonial ideas of blackness, subjecthood, and genealogy. Gharala's current research examines Pacific and Indian Ocean worlds and their connections to New Spain using a microhistorical approach. Another project, tentatively titled “Heirs to their Houses: Families of Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans in Early North America,” will focus on property ownership in families that crossed barriers of race and caste.


Professor Gharala has taught courses on colonial Latin America and colonial Mexico, as well as topical courses on music, gender, empire, and race.

Selected Publications


Taxing Blackness: Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain (University of Alabama Press, February 2019)


“‘Not Even Blood Mixture Could Make Them Unworthy’: Political Loyalty and Tribute in Bourbon New Spain.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 24, no. 2 (Aug. 2018): 195-204. 

“Calidad, Genealogy, and Disputed Free-Colored Tributary Status in New Spain.” The Americas 73, no. 2 (Apr. 2016): 139-170.