Meet the team

Colonial map of Maracaibo


©The Trustees of the British Museum

Jago Cooper is Director of the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research. Since joining the British Museum in 2012 as the Head of the Americas Section, Jago has continually sought to expand knowledge and improve understanding of the Museums under-researched Latin American collections.  Jago’s career has focused on the human story of the Americas and in particular on past human ecodynamics.  Having worked as a professional archaeologist and heritage consultant, Jago returned to academia in 2003 and has worked as a Lecturer at the City University of New York and University of Leicester before joining the British Museum. Jago has spent many years living and working throughout Latin America and currently leads a number of active research projects in the region.  Jago has also made a number of BBC documentaries highlighting the cultural diversity of Latin America. 

Laura Osorio Sunnucks is Head of the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum. Previously she was Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow for Latin America at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), University of British Columbia, where she created a field collection and curated the exhibition “Arts of Resistance; Politics and the Past in Latin America.” She has also worked on the Indigenous and Minority Fellowship Programme at UNESCO Paris and in Anglophone education at the Louvre Museum. She holds a PhD in Mesoamerican heritage from Leiden University. This ongoing work with Maya specialists in Yucatan applies local philosophies concerning archaeological sites, historic materials and places to the interpretation of pre-Colombian and viceregal art from the area. 

María Fernanda Esteban Palma is a Curator in the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum. She combines her background as a registered lawyer in Colombia with her anthropological training to better understand how contemporary communities produce and negotiate their culture. She has worked extensively with urban Indigenous groups from central Colombia. In addition to her ethnographic research, she is interested in the role of objects within ritual practice and how these objects are managed by museums and other institutions such as universities and cultural centres. She holds a law degree from the National University in Colombia, a Master of Arts degree in archaeology from the University of Exeter in the UK, and a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, in the United States of America 

María Mercedes Martínez Milantchí is Project Coordinator for the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and an Erasmus Mundus masters in ARCHaeological MATerial Sciences (University of Evora, Sapienza University & Aristotle University) with a focus on pre-Columbian Caribbean archaeology. Previously, she has experience working and researching at the Smithsonian’s Office of International Relations & Museum Conservation Institute, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Peabody Museum of Natural History. Her current research focuses on the archaeology and materialities of European/Indigenous encounter as part of the Corazón del Caribe project based on Mona Island, Puerto Rico.