Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese


  • Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese, University of Arizona, 2013
  • M.A., Spanish and Portuguese, University of Arizona, 2008
  • B.A., Latin American Studies, University of Arizona, 2004


  • American Studies
  • Critical Race
  • Postcolonial Studies Program
  • Renaissance Studies Program

About Olimpia E. Rosenthal

My research focuses on comparative colonial and postcolonial studies. Within this framework, there are three main lines of inquiry that are reflected in my work. In my monograph, tentatively titled Policing Mestizaje: Spatial Segregation and the Racialization of Sex in Colonial Latin America, I trace the ways in which emerging notions of race developed in colonial Latin America in relation to growing anxieties about mestizaje. Specifically, I examine how the emergence of Iberian notions of purity of blood, and later the institutionalization of the African slave trade, decisively influenced systems of colonial racialization that emerged in the Americas. This is most evident, I argue, in the material effects of the uneven attempts to implement the segregationist Dual Republic model throughout Spanish America, as well as in a Portuguese biopolitical experiment that was designed to influence sexual reproduction by sending white female orphans to the colonies. My comparative study is grounded primarily on texts by Vasco de Quiroga in Mexico, Manuel da Nóbrega in Brazil, and Felipe de Guamán Poma de Ayala in Peru.

A second line of research that I have been working on concerns the intellectual history of Latin American Postcolonial Studies. The two key issues that I address in my published work are, on the one hand, the effects that this contentious history has had on the development of comparative colonial scholarship in the field of Latin American studies and, on the other, the problems with current formulations of the decolonial turn that claim to offer an analytical alternative to postcolonial scholarship. I have co-organized several interdisciplinary conferences on these topics, including an international workshop on Subaltern Studies at IUs Gateway Center in India. Finally, in my most recent work I consider the role of visual culture in propagating and contesting colonial tropes of domination and exploitation. I am interested in both the role of visuality during the process of Latin American colonization, as well as the ways in which the ongoing legacies of colonialism in the Andes are reflected in contemporary cultural production such as the graphic novels by Peruvian artist Miguel Det.


  • Comparative Hispanic-American and Luso-Brazilian Colonial Cultural Studies
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Andean literature and visual culture
  • Critical Race Studies; focus on historicizing race, mestizaje, racialized sex, and notions of purity of blood.


  • “Guamán Poma and the Genealogy of Decolonial Thought.” Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 2018, pp.64-85. 
  • As órfãs d'el rei: Racialized Sex and the Politicization of Life in Manuel da Nóbrega's Letters from Brazil.” Journal of Lusophone Studies, vol. 1, no. 2, 2016, pp. 72-97.       
  • “La figura abyecta del mestizo en El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno.Revista de la Facultad de Letras y Ciencias Humanas de la UNMSM (Perú). 85.121 (January-June 2014): 31-46. Print.
  •  “O silêncio do subalterno em Menino de engenho e Bangüê.Teatro. Revista de Estudios Culturales. 25 (Invierno 2012): 39-53. Print.

Honors & Awards

  • Department of Spanish & Portuguese, GSAC Outstanding Mentor Award, (2018).
  • Antipode Foundation International Workshop Award, Antipode Foundation, (2015, co-recipient).
  • New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities- New Currents Grant, Indiana University, (2015, co-recipient).
  •  Ostrom Grants Program, Indiana University, (2015, co-recipient).
  • College Arts & Humanities Institute Conference Grant, Indiana University, (2014, co-recipient).
  • Mellon Fellowship, Summer Institute in Spanish Paleography, (2013).
  • Louise Foucar Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Marshall Foundation, (2013).


  • HISP S324: Introduction to the Study of Hispanic Cultures
  • HISP S328: Introduction to Hispanic Literature
  • HISP S334: Panoramas of Hispanic Literature
  • HISP S412: Spanish America: The Cultural Context

Current research projects

  • Book project: “Policing Mestizaje: Spatial Segregation and the Racialization of Sex in Colonial Latin America.”