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Karl Offen

Contact Information:


121 Eggers Hall

Office Hours:

Tuesday and Thursday from 11:15am - 12:15pm

Karl Offen

Professor, Geography and the Environment Department

Senior Research Associate and Advisory Board Member, Program on Latin America and the Caribbean


GEO 300: Historical Political Ecology 
GEO 300: Maps, Power, History 
GEO 300: Environmental History of Latin America and the Caribbean
GEO 610: Qualitative Methods in Geography 

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 1999

Areas of Expertise

Historical geography, political ecology, Latin America and the Caribbean, Atlantic world, map studies



Karl Offen and Terry Rugeley, eds., The Awakening Coast: An Anthology of Moravian Writings from Mosquitia and Eastern Nicaragua, 1849-1899 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).

Jordana Dym and Karl Offen, eds., Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Journal articles and book chapters

"The Lifeworld of Elizabeth Symons: Family Biography and Atlantic Geographies in the Eighteenth Century," Journal of Historical Geography (2023): 87-98.

“A Miskitu Critique of British Trade Practices,” Ethnohistory 69, no. 3 (2022): 313-323.

“Subsidy from Nature: Green Sea Turtles in the Colonial Caribbean,” Journal of Latin American Geography 19, no. 1 (2020): 82-92. [Translated and expanded as “Subsidio de la naturaleza: Las tortugas verdes en el gran caribe colonial,” Mesoamérica 59/60 (forthcoming).]

“English Designs on Central America: Geographic Knowledge and Imaginative Geographies in the Seventeenth Century,” Early American Studies 18, no. 4 (2020): 399-460.

“Environment, Space and Place: Cultural Geographies of Colonial Afro-Latin America,” Afro-Latin American Studies: An Introduction, edited by Alejandro de la Fuente and George Reid Andrews (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018): 486-533. [Open source Spanish and Portuguese editions published in 2019]

(with Robert Rundstrom), “Indigenous Peoples and Western Cartography,” in Cartography in the Twentieth Century, vol. 6: History of Cartography, edited by Mark Monmonier (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015): 640-44.

“Mapping Amerindian captivity in colonial Mosquitia,” Journal of Latin American Geography 14, no. 3 (2015): 35-65.

“Historical Geography III: Climate Matters,” Progress in Human Geography 38, no. 3 (2014): 476-89.

“Historical Geography II: Digital Imaginations,” Progress in Human Geography 37, no. 4 (2013): 562-74.

“Historical Geography I: Vital Traditions,” Progress in Human Geography 36, no. 4 (2012): 527-40.

(with Jordana Dym), “Maps and the Teaching of Latin American History,” Hispanic American Historical Review 92, no. 2 (2012): 213-44.

“Puritan Bioprospecting in Central America and the West Indies,” Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction 35, no. 1 (2011): 15-47.

“Race and Place in Colonial Mosquitia,” in Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place, edited by Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010): 92-129. [Translated and reprinted as “La geografía de la raza en la Mosquitia colonial,” in La negritud en Centroamérica: Entre raza y raíces, ed. Lowell Gudmundson y Justin Wolfe (San José, CR: Editorial Universidad Estatal a Distancia, 2012): 121-169.]

(with Mary Finley-Brook), “Bounding the Commons: Land Demarcation in Northeastern Nicaragua,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 28, no. 3 (2009): 343-63.

“Creating Mosquitia: Mapping Amerindian Spatial Practices in Eastern Central America, 1629-1779,” Journal of Historical Geography33, no. 2 (2007): 254-82. [Translated and republished with modifications as “El mapeo de la mosquitia colonial y las practicas espaciales de los pueblos mosquitos,” Mesoamérica 50 (2008): 1-36.]

“Historical Political Ecology: An Introduction,” Historical Geography 32 (2004): 19-42.

The Geographical Imagination, Resource Economies, and Nicaraguan Incorporation of the Mosquitia, 1838-1909,” in Territories, Commodities and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by Christian Brannstrom (London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004): 50-89.

“The Territorial Turn: Making Black Territories in Pacific Colombia,” Journal of Latin American Geography 2, no. 1 (2003): 43-73.

“Narrating Place and Identity, or Mapping Miskitu Land Claims in Northeastern Nicaragua,” Human Organization 62, no. 4 (2003): 382-92.

“The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu. The Colonial Origins and Geography of Miskitu Differentiation, Eastern Nicaragua and Honduras,” Ethnohistory 49, no. 2 (2002): 319-72. [Translated and republished as “Los Zambo y Tawira Miskitu: Los Orígenes Coloniales y la Geografía de la Diferenciación Intra-Miskitu en el Oriente de Nicaragua y Honduras,” Translated by Blanca Estrada Cousin, Revista de Temas Nicaragüenses, no. 21 (2010): 39-82.]

“British Logwood Extraction from the Mosquitia: The Origin of a Myth,” Hispanic American Historical Review 80, no. 1 (2000): 113-35.

“An Historical Geography of Chicle and Tunu Gum Production in Northeastern Nicaragua,” Yearbook, Conference of Latin American Geographers 24 (1998): 57-74.

Select Other Writings

H-Net Roundtable Review, Crawford, "The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making," H-Environment Roundtable vol. 13 no. 5 (2023).

"Atlantic Bristol: Connecting the City to Central America and the western Caribbean," University of Bristol Library, Special Collections Blog, Feb. 2022.

“Introduction to and annotation of M.W.'s 'The Mosqueto Indian and his Golden River' of 1699,” Revista Temas Nicaragüense, no. 58 (2013): 4-34.

“Isthmus Designs,” Cartographic Conversations, John Carter Brown Library, June 2012.

“La cartografía colonial de Centroamérica y el topónimo ‘Mosquito’,” Boletín de la AFEHC (Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica) 48 (2011).

“Mapping Land Politics on the Mosquito Shore,” I Found It at the JCB, April, 2010.

“O mapeas o te mapean: Mapeo indígena y negro en América Latina,”Tabula Rasa 10, no. 1 (2009): 163-89. [Modified reprint of “O mapeas o te mapean: Mapeo indígena y negro en América Latina,” In Región, espacio y territorio, edited by Luis Carlos Jiménez Reyes (Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2006): 37-64.]

“La nueva política geográfica indígena y negra en América Latina,” Wani(Managua, Nicaragua) 43 (2005): 10-27.

“Raza y lugar en la Mosquitia colonial, 1600-1787,” Wani(Managua, Nicaragua) 40 (2005): 6-32.

Guest editorial activities:

“Mapping Latin American Geographies,” Journal of Latin American Geography 14, no. 3 (2015). [10 articles in Spanish and English]

“Los mapas en la historia centroamericana (Maps in Central American History),” Boletín de la Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica 48 (2011). [5 articles in Spanish]

“Historical Political Ecology,” Historical Geography 32 (2004) [5 articles in English]

Select Invited Presentations

“Subsidio de la naturaleza: Las tortugas verdes en el gran caribe colonial,” Seminario: Aportes de los afrodescendientes en el paisaje cultural del Caribe, Limón, Costa Rica, Dec. 8-9, 2021.

(with Paul Lovejoy), “Early US interests on the Mosquito Shore at the time of the American Revolution and the failed invasion of Nicaragua in 1780,” Múltiples facetas de la Independencia: La emancipación de América Central en retrospective. Conmemoraciones por el bicentenario de la Independencia Centroamericana (1821-2021), Vienna and Graz, Austria, Oct. 14-16, 2021.

“Environment, Space, and Place in Colonial Afro-Latin America,” Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), University of Pittsburgh, Oct. 9, 2017.

“Race and indigeneity: the changing constructions of difference on the Mosquito coast,” London Group of Historical Geographers, Seminar Programme, Senate House, University of London, May 20, 2014.

“A Place between Empires: Africans and Afro-Amerindians in Colonial Mosquitia,” Omohundro Institute, Africans in the Americas: Making Lives in a New World, 1675-1825, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, March 14-16, 2013.

“Claves para entrar en la historia: El mapa como fuente primaria,” Múltiples Caras de la Geografía: Evento de celebración del primer año de la Maestría en Geografía, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, October 9, 2009.

“Between Empires: A Spatial History of the Mosquitia, 1600-1779,” Conference & Workshop: Social Histories of Space in Latin America. Yale University, October 21-23, 2005.

“Race and Place in Colonial Mosquitia,” An International Conference: Between Race and Place: Blacks and Blackness in Central America and the Mainland Caribbean. Tulane University, November 12-14, 2004.

“Territorialidad Indígena en América Latina,” Conferencia Región, Espacio y Territorio, Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, October 28-29, 2004.

“La Nueva Política Geográfica Indígena en América Latina,” Cátedra Fulbright, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia, August 9-11, 2004.

“Ethnic Identity and the Mapping Process: Demarcating Indigenous Lands in Latin America,” Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, February 6, 2002.

“Geography and Nation: Incorporating the Nicaraguan Mosquitia, 1838-1909,” Workshop on Latin American Environmental History, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, London, November 2-3, 2001.

Previous Teaching Appointments

Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, Syracuse University (2022-present)
Chair, Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College (2019-2021)
Professor, Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College (2017-2021)
Associate Professor, Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College (2015-2017)
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Oklahoma (2006-2015)
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Oklahoma (2000-2006)