Garry Sparks

Associate Professor of Religion
Office Phone
133 - 1879 Hall

Garry Sparks joined Princeton’s Department of Religion in fall 2023. He focuses on ethnohistorical understandings of theological production in the Americas, particularly by Indigenous peoples. His areas include critical histories of Christian thought, religions of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, religion in Latin America, and theories of religion and culture. He specifically attends to the periods of first contact between Native Mesoamericans and Iberian missionaries in the sixteenth-century as well as current religious movements like liberation theologies, “Indian” theology (teología india), Latin American Protestantism, and the revitalization of Indigenous traditionalism. Previous publications include The Americas’ First Theologies: Early Sources of Post-Contact Indigenous Religion (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Rewriting Maya Religion: Domingo de Vico, K’iche’ Maya Intellectuals, and the Theologia Indorum (University Press of Colorado, 2019).

His third book project, in collaboration with Frauke Sachse (Dumbarton Oaks), is a critical edition of the Library of Congress Kislak 1015 manuscript tentatively titled “Pastoral Fieldnotes: A Sixteenth-century Handbook from the Maya Highlands.” He is also currently coordinating critical translations into English and Spanish of the entire Theologia Indorum (“Theology for/of the Indians”) from Mayan-language manuscripts. His research is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Philosophical Society.

He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Latin American Religions and on the advisory committee for The Maya Book Project.

Selected Publications

“Books and/as Idols: Affective Discourse in Early Colonial Dominican and Maya Writings.” The Transatlantic Bartolomé de las Casas: Lascasian Heritage, Indigenous Cultures, Scholastic Thought, and Historical Reception. Edited by Rady Roldán-Figueroa and David Thomas Orique (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2023), 113-147.

“Shifts in Semantic Souls, Transmigration of Meanings: From a Mendicant toward a Maya Theory of Translation.” Time, Space, Matter in Translation. Edited by Pamela Beattie, Simona Bertacco, Tatjana Soldat-Jaffe (New York: Routledge, 2022), 91-103.

“Chapter 88: Modes of Interpretation of Indigenous Religious Ethics (of the Americas).” In The Encyclopedia of Religious Ethics, Vol. II. Edited by William Schweiker, Maria Antonaccio, Elizabeth Bucar, and David Clairmont (Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2022), 759-768.

“Mendicants and Mesoamericans.” Encyclopedia of Global Middle Ages (Bloomsbury/Arc-Humanities Press, 2021), online.

“Maya Moral and Ritual Discourse: Dialogical Groundings for Consuetudinary Law.” In Journal of Religious Ethics 46, no. 1 (March 2018): 88-123.

“A Sixteenth-Century Priest’s Fieldnotes among Highland Maya: Proto-Theologia as Vade mecum.” With Frauke Sachse. In Words and Worlds Turned Around: Indigenous Christianities in Latin America. Edited by David Tavárez (University Press of Colorado, 2017), 102-123.