Mariana-Cecilia Velazquez

Mariana-Cecilia Velazquez
Graduate Student Lead Teaching Fellow Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
  • Address
    B-06, Casa Hispánica
    Department of Latin American & Iberian Cultures
    612 W116th Street
    New York NY 10027
  • Office Hours
    By appointment
  • Phone
    (212) 854-4526
  • Fax
    (212) 854-5322
  • Email


Mariana-Cecilia Velázquez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University. Her research focuses on late medieval Iberia and the early modern transatlantic relations among Spain, England, Latin America and the Caribbean regions. Her research interests include early modern transatlantic piracy, travel narratives, colonial cartography and the creation of geopolitical spaces, the dispersed archives on colonial Piracy, and chronicles of Indies from the 1500s to the 1650s.
Before joining Columbia, she received a B.A in Comparative Literature, from University of Puerto Rico and worked closely with underprivileged communities by articulating effective pedagogical strategies from primary to higher education systems. She has been recently appointed Lead Teaching Fellow by the Center for Teaching and Learning, a position that requires, among other responsibilities, planning and supervising the proper execution of several workshops and events that enhance pedagogical skills with a focus on Digital Humanities. Fab-Musiconis Fellowship has sponsored her work on digital humanities (Columbia University-Paris Sorbonne). Her academic research and interests in material culture have been supported by the Mellon Humanities International Travel Research Fellowship (2017), the Institute of Latin American Studies Research Travel Grant at Columbia Univ. (2015) and the Pine Tree Scholars Program from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia Univ. (2014).

Her dissertation entitled Travelers, Traders, and Traitors: Writing and Mapping Piracy in England, Spain and the Caribbean (1570-1620) challenges the conventional notion of piracy as an illegal practice by tracing the plasticity of the concept. The project delves into the production of a transoceanic narrative and visual culture of piracy among England, Spain, and the Caribbean and its intersections with the legal, religious, economic, and political domains.

Academic Statement

Over the nine courses I have taught, I regard the learning process as an interactive and collective activity where students and professors, without the restrictions of hierarchical structures in the classroom, may discuss ideas and exchange diverse perspectives. As a Spanish language and content teacher, my goal is twofold: to develop reading, speaking, and writing abilities, along with fostering analytical and argumentative skills. This two fold approach allows students to perceive and begin to understand the ample and heterogeneous Hispanic world from a complex and multilayered viewpoint. For every class, I design activities and employ various teaching strategies mindful of their interests and needs. Within this atmosphere, I aim to encourage students to explore beyond their own limits by promoting their own agency, thus expanding their creativity and bringing self-challenge into the equation.