Gabriela Domené López


Hello, I’m Gabriela, a PhD student in Hispanic Studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

I was born in Venezuela to a Canary Islander mother and Argentinian father. When I was eight years old we emigrated to the United States, challenges led to our living illegally there for nearly two decades. My first-hand experience as a Latin American immigrant whose cultural heritage always felt both close and distant, and an educational diagnosis for autism at thirty-eight, has profoundly shaped my perspective and served as a driving factor behind my academic and professional career.

At twenty-eight I began a Joint Honours Anthropology-Archaeology degree at the University of Aberdeen while also working full-time. I later received an MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, funded by the MA Scholarship from the Sainsbury Research Unit. I have focused on the history and politics of knowledge production about Latin America and the power dynamics of cultural heritage. These experiences inspired me to use my research to challenge Eurocentric narratives and solidified my commitment to decolonising knowledge production within academic discourse.

My PhD project illuminates the power dynamics of Scottish collecting practices and collection usage within the context of the ‘informal’ British Empire engaging with the key, yet understudied period after the Latin American Wars of Independence through to the Second World War. I trace objects, itineraries, and biographies, investigating the relationships, agencies, and knowledge exchanges between Scots and colonised people which characterised material imperialism in Latin American contexts. By focusing on object acquisition, while being attentive to their changing meanings and relational histories, I examine lost histories of transatlantic interactions and power relationships through the lives of Scottish donors and collectors, Latin American guides and makers, and the objects that bind them in long-standing connections that continue to this day.