Stephanie Mawson (Cambridge), RHS Marshall Fellow

Incomplete Conquests in the Philippine Archipelago, 1565-1700

Stephanie Mawson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge working under the supervision of Dr. Sujit Sivasundaram. She previously completed her Honours and MPhil at the University of Sydney. From the vantage point of the complex world of the Philippines archipelago, her doctoral research focusses on the contested nature of empire in the early modern period, arguing that European dominance over colonial spaces was far more limited than previously acknowledged. As the only Spanish outpost in Asia, the Philippines have often defied categorisation. Fitting imperfectly within Southeast Asian, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Latin American worlds, they have been marginalised within all of these historiographic traditions. The history of the Philippines thus remains vastly understudied. By reinserting the Philippines into world history, Stephanie’s research aims to demonstrate that the early colonial history of the archipelago defies many of our assumptions about the nature and scope of early modern empire, including the myth of a ‘completed conquest’ and the idea that Europeans asserted a progressive, unhalting domination over colonised people. Her doctoral thesis centres on questions of resistance and authority and aims to shift current thinking on early modern empires through an engagement with local assertions of power and sovereignty in the face of European expansion. Stephanie has conducted research in archives in Spain, the Philippines, Mexico, Guam and the United States. Her work has been published in leading journals, including Past & Present and Ethnohistory.

Research and publications



  • Stephanie Mawson, 'Convicts or Conquistadores?: Spanish Soldiers in the Seventeenth Century Pacific,' Past and Present, Vol. 232, No. 1 (2016), 87-125
  • Stephanie Mawson, 'Philippine Indios in the Service of Empire: Indigenous Soldiers and Contingent Loyalty,' Ethnohistory, Vol. 63, No. 2 (2016), 381-413
  • Stephanie Mawson, ‘Rebellion and Mutiny in the Mariana Islands, 1680-1690,’ Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 50, No. 2 (2015), 128-148.
    Stephanie Mawson, ‘Unruly Plebeians and the Forzado System: Convict Transportation between New Spain and the Philippines during the Seventeenth Century,’ Revista de Indias, Vol. 73, No. 259 (2013), 693-730
  • Stephanie Mawson, ‘The “Workingman’s Paradise”, White Supremacy and Utopianism: The New Australia Movement and Working Class Racism,’ Labour History, No. 101 (2011), 91-104.