James Wadsworth is a historian of Colonial Latin American and World History. He is interested in the linkages between social, institutional, and religious history and the big historical questions that defy easy answers.

His first book entitled Agents of Orthodoxy: Honor, Status and the Inquisition in Colonial Pernambuco Brazil (2007) is a collective biography of the men who ran the Inquisition between 1613 and 1821 in the Captaincy General of Pernambuco. His second book, In Defence of the Faith: Joaquim Marques de Araújo A Comissário in the Age of Inquisitional Decline (2013), shrinks the historical scale by engaging in an experiential microhistory of the career of one formidable comissário who worked between 1770 and 1820. He is also the author of Columbus and His First Voyage: A History in Documents (2016); The World of Credit in Colonial Massachusetts: James Richards and his Day Book, 1692-1711 (2017), and Global Piracy: A Documentary History of Seaborne Banditry (2019).

Currently, he is researching pre-contact trading systems in the western hemisphere and the role of indigenous communities on the construction of a global economy in the early modern era. Future projects may include a global history of blood sacrifice and a history of the world from the perspective of apocalyptic millenarian movements. He has held several prestigious fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship to Portugal and regularly presents papers at international conferences. He is also the recipient of the Chet Kevitt Award for his book The World of Credit in Colonial Massachusetts: James Richards and his daybook, 1692-1711.


  • Ph.D. Latin American & Comparative World History (2002) University of Arizona
  • M.A. Latin American Studies (1996) University of Arizona
  • B.A. History (1994) Idaho State University

Courses Taught

  • Beneath the Skull and Cross Bones: A Global History of Piracy (HIS 100/FYS118)
  • A World at War (HIS 353)
  • Colonial Latin America (HIS 244)
  • Comparative Empires: Spain and Portugal (HIS 220)
  • History of Brazil (HIS 277)
  • The Inquisition: Myth & History (HIS 349)
  • Modern Latin America (HIS 257)
  • Native American History (HIS 209)
  • Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration (HIS 101/FYS117)
  • World History I (HIS 271)
  • World History II (HIS 272)
  • World History Seminar (HIS 362)