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Personal Details

Full Name: Dr Helen Louise Cowie

Date of Birth: 27/12/1981

Address: 51,

Charter Avenue, Coventry, CV4 8EJ

Telephone: 07759834412

Email: or


Current Status:

I have just completed my PhD in history at the University of Warwick. My research focuses on the development of the natural sciences in the Hispanic world in the years 1750-1870. I study the acquisition, formation and dissemination of scientific knowledge in a variety of settings, ranging from the metropolis to the periphery and the field to the museum. My research expands upon existing studies of scientific expeditions in 18th century Spain by tracing the evolution of natural history beyond South American independence. It also devotes greater attention to the cultural context of the expeditions, to the strategies for social and professional credibility adopted by naturalists and to the contributions made by Creoles and indigenous people to the production of natural knowledge. My supervisor is Professor Anthony McFarlane and my current research is funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.




University of Warwick (2000-2008)

PhD in History My PhD dissertation was entitled ‘Colonizing Science: Nature and Nations in the Spanish World’. I submitted it in December 2007 and had my viva on 14/03/2008.

MA in The History of Race in the Americas (Distinction) My MA dissertation focused on conceptions of racial difference in nineteenth-century Argentina.

BA History (1st Class Honours)


Prince William School, Oundle, 1995-2000


3 A’ Levels: History (A), and History Special Paper (1); Spanish (A); English Literature (A)

9 GCSEs: Maths (A*); English Language (A*); English Literature (A*); History (A*); Spanish (A*); French (A*); Double Science (Double A*); Music (A*)


Italian Andvanced Level (Gained at The University of Warwick Language Centre)


Research Experience:

  • I have conducted research in several British libraries and archives. These include the British Library and the Wellcome Library in London and the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
  • I have conducted research in Madrid at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Instituto de Historia and the libraries at the Real Jardín Botánico and the Museo de Ciencias Naturales.
  • I completed a 10 week research fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago from 30/05/07 to 04/08/07 and presented a paper in the subsequent 2-week workshop on 'European and New World Forms of Knowledge in Colonical Spanish America'. My fellowship was funded by the Arthur Mellon Foundation.
  • I attended a workshop on ‘Colonial Cultures’ at the University of Warwick (July 2006) and the Symposium on the history of medicine in the Spanish Empire held at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine (June 2006)


Papers delivered:

  • 'The Marvellous and the Monstrous: Nurturing Nature in Late Imperial Spain', British Postgraduate Society for the History of Science Conference, January 2007, University of Durham.
  • 'Peripheral Vision: Science and Creole Patriotism in Eighteenth-Century Spanish America', European and New World Forms of Knowledge in Colonical Spanish America, Newberry Library Chicago, July 2007.
  • ‘Peripheral Vision: Science and Creole Patriotism in eighteenth-century Spanish America’, ‘The Natural History Cabinet’, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, October 2007


  • Review of Karl Barolomeus Heller, translated by Terry Rugeley (ed.), Alone in Mexico: The Astonishing Travels of Karl Heller, 1845-1848 (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2007), Journal of Latin American Studies 40, 2008, pp.805-806
  • ‘Peripheral Vision: Science and Creole Patriotism in eighteenth-century Spanish America’, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge (forthcoming, September 2009)
  • Review of Margaret Ewalt, Peripheral Wonders: Nature, Knowledge and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth-Century Orinoco (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2008) in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies (forthcoming 2010)


  • I am employed as a teaching fellow at the University of Warwick. I teach on two undergraduate modules; Latin American Themes and Problems, and A Cultural History of Food in Latin America.
  • I am also currently employed as a network facilitator for the Leverhulme-funded research project ‘Text and Image in Spanish America’. My role involves contacting participants in the network and helping Dr Rebecca Earle with the organisation of 3 conferences, the first of which, ‘Writing the Republic in Spanish America’ is to take place at the University of Warwick on 7 and 8 November 2008. I have also had to create and maintain a project website, which can be viewed at
  • For the past three years I have helped to organise the History Department’s research seminar at the University of Warwick. This has entailed communicating with speakers, arranging equipment and publicising the event. It has enabled me to meet a wide range of academics from a variety of fields and to enhance my organisational skills.


Music: My principal external interest is music. I play the clarinet, recorder and piano, and have attained the following qualifications:

Grade 8 Clarinet (Distinction)

Grade 8 Recorder (Distinction)

Recorder Performer’s Certificate

Grade 5 Music Theory (Distinction)

Languages: I also enjoy learning languages. I speak Spanish, French and Italian, and am currently taking classes in Spanish and Italian at the University of Warwick Language Centre. I have achieved a certificate in Italian, Advanced Level.