James Wadsworth


Prof. Wadsworth seeks new and innovative ways to examine and understand the social and institutional history of the Portuguese Inquisition and the role the Inquisition has played in shaping the modern world. He is also interested in the broad historical patterns that have shaped and continue to shape our world. His first book entitled Agents of Orthodoxy: Honor, Status and the Inquisition in Colonial Pernambuco Brazil is a collective biography of the men who ran the Inquisition between 1613 and 1821 in the Captaincy General of Pernambuco. His second book, a sequel to Agents of Orthodoxy, shrinks the historical scale by engaging in an experiential microhistory of the career of one formidable comissário who worked between 1770 and 1820. It seeks to understand how one man experienced the Inquisition and how he responded to the challenges and transformations that swept colonial Brazil during the twilight of empire.

Future research projects return to the macro scale examining pre-contact trading systems of the western hemisphere, a global history of blood sacrifice and a history of the world from the perspective of apocalyptic millenarian movements.

Prof. Wadsworth has held several prestigious fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship to Portugal and regularly presents papers at international conferences.


  • B.A., Idaho State University
  • M.A., University of Arizona
  • Ph.D., University of Arizona

Courses Taught

  • A World at War
  • Colonial America
  • Comparative Empires: Spain and Portugal
  • History of Brazil
  • Inquisition: Myth & History
  • Modern Latin America
  • Native American History
  • World History I
  • World History II
  • World History Seminar: Topical