Laura Matthew is a historian of southern Mesoamerica during the Spanish colonial era. Her first two books focused on Indigenous allies of Spanish empire. Indian Conquistadors: Indigenous Allies in the Conquest of Mesoamerica (co-edited with Michel Oudijk, 2007) demonstrates how Mesoamerican methods of warfare – and many thousands of Mesoamericans themselves – shaped conquests that would ultimately be labeled Spanish. Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (2012), recipient of the 2013 Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History and the 2013 Murdo MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association, examines how Nahua and Oaxacan conquistadors of Central America created a privileged social and political space for themselves under colonial rule. She has also published articles in Mesoamérica, The Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, and Ethnohistory.
Currently, Dr. Matthew is researching Indigenous trade and migration along the southern Pacific coast from Oaxaca to El Salvador during the violent sixteenth century, and continues to investigate the use of Nahuatl, language of the Aztec empire, in Central America as director of the digital project "Nahuatl/Nawat in Central America." She serves on the editorial board and is reviews editor of the Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica.
At Marquette, she teaches the Latin American and Mexican surveys as well as classes on colonial Latin America, Native Americans in the Iberian world, the historical evolution of race, war and genocide in Guatemala, and medieval and early modern Iberia.