Global Interactions welcomes new postdoc Dr. Martha Bell

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Martha Bell will be joining us as a Global Interactions Grant Writing Postdoc. She will develop her project on the Muslim contribution to the Columbian exchange into a NWO Veni application to be submitted in January 2016.


Martha G. Bell received her Ph.D. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013 and was a Postdoctoral Scholar of Nature Society at Penn State until 2014. She also has training in the fields of Archaeology and Geology, with an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Yale College. 

Bell's research considers human use of the environment from a historical perspective.  She is interested in how current land and resource use patterns and practices came to be, as well as the reconstruction of past land and resource use. More specifically, her research centers on the colonial period transfers of agro-pastoral practices, water management traditions, and land and resource knowledge systems between the Old and New Worlds, with focus on Latin America (Peru, Andes). This work incorporates concepts from multiple approaches, including nature-society geography, political ecology, environmental governance, science and technology studies, and environmental history.

Bell's dissertation looked at how the Spanish introduction of European gristmill technology and related wheat/bread production and water management practices to Peru influenced social and ecological transformations in the city of Lima and its surroundings, including impacts to environmental and natural resource governance institutions and urban development. Forthcoming publications stemming from this project analyze multiple aspects of municipal water use and governance in colonial Lima, as well as wheat cultivation and trade in the Lima region.

Bell has also published on the history of geography in Peru and on historical landscape models of the Andes. Other projects have focused on pottery production and distribution in the rural Andes. In addition, she works as a freelance cartographer and always integrates spatial analysis and the visual representation of spatial relationships into her work.


Wednesday 29 April 2015
Huizinga conference room, 2nd Fl

Martha Bell (LIAS) will present her work in progress at the Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminar (LIMS) series: ‘Technology transfer and the Columbian Exchange: Spanish agricultural and water management practices in colonial Peru’

Discussant: Andrzej Antczak (Archaeology) TBC

Contribution to Global Interactions

As the Global Interactions postdoc, Bell is developing a new research project that will investigate the influence of Muslim agricultural, pastoral, and technological traditions on the food production and water management practices that the Spanish brought to the Americas during the colonial period. While this contribution is substantial and wide-ranging, it has not yet been documented or explained in a comprehensive way. Bell's project will be designed, therefore, to uncover this Muslim agro-pastoral and technological heritage and to explain the significance of these historical global interactions.

Bell will be based at LIAS from March to December 2015, and will be supervised by Prof. dr. Petra Sijpesteijn (LIAS) and Prof. dr. Corinne Hofman (Archaeology).

Last Modified: 01-04-2015