Robert Douglas Cope Associate Professor of History

R. Douglas Cope received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987; he taught at the University of Oregon and the University of Miami before arriving at Brown in 1988. He offers courses on colonial Latin America, the early modern Atlantic world, Mexico, and Guatemala. His book, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720, received honorable mention for the Herbert E. Bolton Prize for the best book in Latin American Studies. He is currently at work on a book about the informal economy of eighteenth-century Mexico City.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work

"Los ámbitos laborales urbanos," in Historia de la vida cotidiana en México, vol. 2, La ciudad barroca, ed. Antonio Rubial García (Mexico: El Colegio de México, A. C., Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005).

"Mexico's Eve: The Woman Who Welcomed the West into an American Paradise," in the Brown Alumni Monthly (January/February 2002).

"Mestizaje," in the The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Central America, ed. David Carrasco, vol. 2 (Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 291-296.

The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994)

"Petty Commerce and the Public Good in Eighteenth-Century Mexico City," in volume on Colonial Cities, ed. Diego Curto, Leo S. Olschky Editore (forthcoming)

research overview

My research and teaching focuses on the creation and development of multi-ethnic societies in Mexico and Central America. I am particularly interested in the lived experience of the urban poor: how they grappled – socially, economically, and culturally – with their unfavorable position in the colonial hierarchy.

research statement

My current research examines the economic activities of the urban poor – including servants, commercial employees, artisans, and petty venders – in eighteenth-century Mexico City. In the process, I explore such issues as: 1) the evolution of official views on commerce (and the "public good") from the late seventeenth century to 1770; 2) the colonial regulatory climate and its impact on Mexico City's economy; and 3) the multiple, sometimes perverse links between the formal and informal sectors.

funded research