Roger L. Martinez-Davila at the Plaza de San Nicolas (Plasencia, Spain).

ENGLISH (Desplácese hacia abajo para español)

What Dr. Martinez Brings to the Discussion

Fundamentally, Dr. Martinez is concerned about and fixated on human interrelations — especially during the Spanish Middle Ages. From the 8th through 15th centuries, Jews, Christians, and Muslims co-existed on the Iberian Peninsula and formed one of most dynamic civilizations in world history. Their coexistence was tenuous, challenging, and intimate. Blood and family relations were both commingled and jealously kept apart. Conflict, collaboration, and accommodation created new and unexpected political and economic alliances. Shared life on the peninsula generated the conditions for new forms of identity to come to life — in essence — hybridized, fractured identities that often borrowed and blended aspects of multiple faiths, values, and families.

Dr. Martinez’ own extensive research in cathedral, municipal, and national archives has led him to conclude that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relationships were far more integrated—both positively and negatively—than contemporary scholars and the public realize. To investigate these issues, he blends the traditional approach of the historian (painstaking research and interpretation of medieval manuscripts) with new digital technologies (crowd-sourced analysis by citizen scholars and applied geovisualization). Thus, as a digital humanist his purpose is to share this inter-cultural history with others, via traditional and novel mediums, so that we might learn and appreciate how 21st century human interrelations have been molded by the past.

Academic Biography. Since fall 2010, Dr. Martínez has served as an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. From fall 2008 to spring 2010, he served as the Burton Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and earned his Ph.D. in May 2008 from the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Martinez specializes in the study of inter-cultural relations and how group and individual identities hybridize. He is a scholar of medieval and early modern Spain, religious minorities and religious converts in Spain (in particular, Sephardic Jews and conversos), and their Spanish trans-Atlantic migration to Mexico and Bolivia.

Relying on his specialized training in Spanish paleography and Spanish and Portuguese language expertise, Dr. Martinez has conducted research in approximately 40 local, ecclesiastical, provincial, and national archives in Spain, Mexico, Bolivia, and the United States for his dissertation and current book project. His forthcoming text, Blood, Faith, and Fate: Jews, Conversos, and Old Christian in Early Modern Spain and Colonial Spanish America, is under contract with a university press. He has published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews and reviewed books for The Sixteenth Century Journal and The Americas. Dr. Martinez is the fortunate recipient of several research fellowships and awards, including ones provided by the Mellon Foundation, the Council for European Studies, Spanish Ministry of Culture’s Program for Cultural Cooperation, the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) and Paul Jacobi Center at the National Library of Israel, and UCLA’s Maurice Amado Program in Sephardic Studies and Center for Jewish Studies.

Exploring the Digital Humanities. Dr. Martinez continues an active research agenda, especially in the area of applying digital tools to the study of medieval and early modern inter-religious Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim coexistence. Currently, Dr. Martinez is the project director for an emerging digital humanities project titled, Revealing Cooperation and Conflict: An Integrated Geovisual and Transcription Project for Plasencia, Spain (circa 1390-1450). The Revealing Cooperation and Conflict project will invigorate the humanities and public’s imagination by creating a visually-compelling, data-robust, and historically-lush digital world known as Virtual Plasencia. Our endeavor will generate a 3D walk-through model of part of the city of Plasencia that reveals Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim interrelations. We aim to recreate the cooperative and challenging processes that emerged during this era of intercultural realization and violence in Spain and Europe. Our team will populate a 3D model by transcribing and indexing census-like events from Book One (1399-1453) of the Capitulary Acts of the Cathedral of Plasencia. The project assembles geovisualization experts, historians, geographers, linguists, and computer scientists in the U.S.A., Switzerland, and Spain as well as citizen scholars from around the world. Our digital world will deliver a portal for the public to immerse themselves in Virtual Plasencia and an open-access data repository for scholars. This start-up project will launch our broader team effort to model issues of identity and social disruption from the 14th-17th centuries. This international collaborative project involves Dr. Victor R. Schinazi of Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH-Zurich), as well as scholars from Idaho State UniversityUniversity of ZurichSt. Anselm CollegeSt. Louis University (Madrid Campus)University of Wyoming at LaramieUniversidad Complutense de Madrid, and the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.

Organizational Service and Teaching. Previously, Dr. Martinez served as the President of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, a 20+ year old international organization that fosters research on historical and contemporary issues relating to Sephardic Jews and conversos who hid their Jewish identities during an age of persecution. He is an active member of the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies and Sixteenth Century Society.

Dr. Martinez’s university service contributions include the founding of the UCCS Historical Engineering Society, which built a historically accurate scale model of the trebuchet illustrated in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, and employing Barnard College’s Reacting to the Past pedagogy in the classroom, which places students in the roles of historic actors during critical moments during world history. Utilizing elaborate, multi-period games, his students re-enact, debate, and decide the course of events such as the birth of Athenian democracy.

Life Before Academia. Prior to returning to the University of Texas, Dr. Martínez worked for eight years in the public sector, including research and consulting positions at the Institute for the Future, the Texas Senate, and MGT of America. Lastly, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in the Humanities from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a native of San Antonio, Texas; he has resided in South America, Spain, and both the west and east coasts of the United States. During his juvenile formative years he lived in Caracas, Venezuela, and La Paz, Bolivia.

Kin-Familia. Visit family members on the Internet:

Davila Pharmacy, San Antonio, Texas

Pat Mora, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Libby Martinez, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Credits: A special thanks to Tom Brudenell for his assistance with editing this biography.