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Saúl Martínez

Saúl Martínez Bermejo

Doctorate from: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Spain

Institute at UC3M: Institute of Culture and Technology "Miguel de Unamuno"


CONEX Fellow from 09/01/2015 to 09/04/2017


SOUNDSILENCE: Sound and Silence in Early Modern Iberian Empires, 1480-1650

Sound was linked to a wide set of colonial situations mentioned in early modern travel accounts, in letters and other sources. Wonder, fear and other feelings were expressed in reaction to previously unheard landscapes, animals, artillery and firearms. Portuguese and Spanish colonizers identified and commented on particular sound environment and practices, such as the cuquiada in India or the whistles of the Zapoteco Indians in Mexico.

My objective is to investigate how did early modern encounters affect the sound experience of both colonized and colonisers, from the first explorations in the north of Africa to the establishment of cities, commercial routes and hybrid societies. Since early modern sound experience differs both from present-day conceptions of sound and from visual categories I also aim to develop modes of classifying sounds that will be useful for contemporary web semantics and to improve the accessibility to sensorial communication.


I earned my PhD in history at the Autonomous University of Madrid (2009) with a dissertation on the reception of Tacitus in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century political thought. Between 2011 and 2015 I was a Marie Curie Fellow at CHAM (Portuguese Centre for Global History, Lisbon) where I developed the project Empireclassics. Empire, classical history and world discoveries, devoted to study the uses of classical culture in Portuguese and Spanish imperial narratives. I am interested in a wide range of topics related to early modern cultural and political history, translation studies, history of the book and of reading practices, military treatises and luxury. I am a member of and author of Translating Tacitus. The reception of Tacitus's works in the vernacular languages of Europe, 16th-17th centuries  (Pisa University Press, 2010)

Dissemination activities:

Seminars and Conferences:

"El sonido de la conquista  de México. Bernal Díaz del Castillo y la experiencia sonora de la colonización" (December 16th, 2015), Seminar on Cultural History, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. 

"Talking, listening and reading. The practice of political counsel", Renaisance Society of America, Boston (April 1st, 2016).

"Sound and Silence in the Conquest of Mexico", Early Modern Iberia Study Group, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania (April 4th, 2016): 

"El sonido encuentra su pasado. Aproximaciones y métodos de una historia del sonido" (June 13th, 2016), Seminario del Instituto de Cultura y Tecnología.

"El atambor de plata suena como cascaveles de turquesa. Reconstrucción de la experiencia sonora de la colonización europea (c. 1480-1650) a través de un glosario y un tesauro digital." (July 15th, 2016), Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, Krakow.

Round table "New technologies and methods in the classroom", organized by Gary G. Gibbs. My intervention explored the question "What do history blogs teach us?", Sixteenth Century Society Conference, Bruges, Belgium (August 15th, 2016).