Olimpia E. Rosenthal

Olimpia E. Rosenthal

Associate 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

I am a scholar of colonialism in Latin America. I specialize in literary and cultural production that reflects material practices of domination, the long-term effects of colonization, and the ways in which imperial power has been challenged and resisted. As a scholar of colonialism in Latin America, my research focuses primarily on the early colonial period, but also highlights the ongoing effects of this foundational period and considers how it is remembered and reimagined in postcolonial narratives, cultural production, and contemporary scholarship. My methodology is comparative and interdisciplinary. My published work considers textual, visual, and archival sources from Spanish and Portuguese America, focusing on case studies from Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. I have organized conferences, workshops and symposia working with colleagues from different disciplines, including a comparative workshop on Subaltern Studies held at Indiana University’s Gateway Center in India.
In my monograph, Race, Sex, and Segregation in Colonial Latin America (Routledge, 2022), I trace the emergence and early development of segregationist policies in Spanish and Portuguese America. I show that segregationist measures influenced the material reorganization of colonial space, shaped processes of racialization, and contributed to the politicization of reproductive sex. The book advances this argument through a series of close readings of published and archival sources from the sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries, and it is informed by two main conceptual concerns. First, it considers how segregation was envisioned, codified, and enforced in a historical context of consolidating racial differences and changing demographics associated with racial mixture, or mestizaje/mestiçagem.Though arguments about racial mixture are regularly invoked to dismiss the effectiveness of segregationist efforts in colonial Latin America, I complicate this common assumption by showing that negative views about mestizos and other mixed-ancestry groups are in fact crucial to understand the evolution of segregationist laws and the increasing regimentation of space. Secondly, the book theorizes the interrelation between race, sex, and segregation. It traces how concerns about reproductive sex were articulated in relation to spatial segregation, and it considers how this affected women differentially because of putative views about social reproduction, feminized notions of racial purity and impurity, and legal codes like the Roman legal principle of partus sequitur ventrem (literally meaning ‘offspring follows womb’), ­which made maternity a key vehicle through which racial meaning was concretized and is critical to understand the notions of heritability on which ­Atlantic slavery was founded.  


  • Latin American Colonial Studies
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Andean literature
  • Visual culture
  • Critical Race Studies; focus on historicizing race, mestizaje, racialized sex, and notions of purity of blood


  • Race, Sex, and Segregation in Colonial Latin America (Routledge 2022). 
  • “Academic Colonialism & Marginalization: on The Contentious Postcolonial/Decolonial Debate in Latin American Studies.” Postcolonial Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, 2022, pp. 17-34.  
  • Mestiçagem and Purity of Blood in Alain Fresnot’s Desmundo. Hispanic Research Journal, vol. 21, no. 1, 2020, pp. 53-69. 
  • “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. Letras: Revista de Investigacion de la Facultad de Letras y Ciencias Humanas, vol. 85, no. 121, 2014, pp. 31-46. 
  • “O silêncio do subalterno em Menino de engenho e Bangüê. Teatro. Revista de Estudios Culturales, vol. 25, 2012, pp. 39-53.  
  • “La otredad del yo en Las posibilidades del odio,” Divergencias: Revista de Estudios Lingüísticos y Literarios, vol. 8, no. 2, 2010, pp. 122-30.   
  • Menino de engenho e Bangüê.Teatro. Revista de Estudios Culturales. 25 (Invierno 2012): 39-53. Print.

Honors & Awards

  • IU Presidential Arts and Humanities Conference and Workshop Travel Grant (2023).
  • Emergency Grant-in-Aid award (2022).
  • Mellon Foundation, Sawyer Seminar Award (2022, Co-PI).
  • MIND (Motivación, Inspiración, Dedicación) Award for Impactful and MIND-Blowing Teaching (2022).
  • 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 
  • HISP S471: Spanish American Literature 1: Colonialism through Modernism 
  • HISP S481: Hispanic American National/Regional Literature 
  • HISP S695: Seminar on “Theories of Hybridity and Mestizaje in Latin American Cultural Production.” 
  • HISP S695: Seminar on “Latin American (Post)Coloniality.” 
  • HISP S695: Seminar on “Race, Biopolitics & Colonialism.”

Current research projects

  • Edited volume on Visual Culture in Colonial Latin America. 
  • Analysis of Novísima corónica i mal gobierno by Peruvian graphic novelist Miguel Det. 
  • Comparative project on slavery and its afterlives, as part of a project titled “Global Slaveries, Fugitivity, and the Afterlives of Unfreedom: Interconnections in Comparative Dialogue.”