Larissa Brewer-García

Associate Professor of Latin American Literature
Classics 119
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

Larissa Brewer-García specializes in colonial Latin American studies, with a focus on cultural productions of the Caribbean, the Andes, and the African diaspora. Within these areas, her interests include gender studies, literature and law, genealogies of race and racism, humanism and Catholicism, and translation studies.

She received her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been supported by numerous fellowships, including the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, the Franke Institute in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

She is a co-editor at Critical Inquiry and a co-founder, with Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Cécile Fromont, of the Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture. She is also part of the Faculty Committee of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University’s international seminar Afro-Latin American Art: Building the Field.

Her first book, Beyond Babel: Translations of Blackness in Colonial Peru and New Granada (Cambridge University Press, 2020), examines the influence of black interpreters and spiritual intermediaries in the creation and circulation of notions of blackness in writings from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish America. The book was awarded the Flora Tristán Book Prize for Peruvian Studies by the Latin American Studies Association and the Friedrich Katz Prize for Latin American and Caribbean history by the American Historical Association. The Spanish translation of Beyond Babel by George Palacios, titled Más allá de Babel: La traducción de lo negro en Perú y la Nueva Granada en el siglo XVII, was published by Planeta/ Uniandes in 2022.

Her current book project, "Unruly Examples: Race, Hierarchy, and Belonging in Colonial Andean Religious Portraiture" examines depictions of Black and Indigenous men and women in narrative, verse, and visual culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Selected Publications


Beyond Babel: Translations of Blackness in Colonial Peru and New Granada. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Articles and book chapters

“Los olores fétidos de la salvación: Esclavitud, santidad y discurso sensorial en la Cartagena de Indias del siglo XVII.” Cuadernos de Literatura del Caribe e Hispanoamérica 37 (enero-junio 2023), forthcoming in 2024.

Co-written with Cécile Fromont, From Hell to Hell: Africans and Visual Christian Catechesis in the Early Modern Atlantic Slave Trade.” Art History 46, no. 5 (2023): 956-977.

“Gender and the Work of Missionary Translation: The Case of Black Women Interpreters among the Jesuits in Seventeenth-Century Cartagena de Indias.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 21, no. 4 (2021): 63-100. [Published Summer 2023]

  • Honorable Mention for Best Article in Colonial Latin American Studies by a Senior Scholar by the Latin American Studies Association (2024).

“The Composite Pardo of Seventeenth-Century Lima: Blackness, Whiteness, and Creole Self-Fashioning in the Earliest Portraits of Martín de Porres.” Colonial Latin American Review 30, no. 2 (2021): 272-304.

“The Agency of Translation in Colonial Latin America: Rethinking the Roles of Non-European Linguistic Intermediaries.” In The Routledge Hispanic Studies Companion for Colonial Latin American and Caribbean (1492-1898). Eds. Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel and Santa Arias. New York: Routledge, 2021. 379-92.

“Hierarchy and Holiness in the Earliest Colonial Black Hagiographies: Alonso de Sandoval and his Sources.” William and Mary Quarterly 76, no. 3 (July 2019): 477-508.

“Imagined Transformations: Color, Beauty, and Black Christian Conversion in Seventeenth-century Spanish America.” In Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America, Ed. Pamela Patton. Leiden: Brill, 2016. 111-41.

Recent Courses in RLL

  • SPAN 21903 Introducción a las literaturas hispánicas: textos hispanoamericanos desde la colonia a la independencia (Spring 2017, Autumn 2018, Spring 2021)
  • SPAN 21905 Latin American Literatures and Cultures: Colonial and 19th-Century (Autumn 2022, Fall 2024)
  • SPAN 24420 Unsettling Encounters: Colonial Latin America in Film (Spring 2018)
  • SPAN 26210/36210 Witches, Sinners, and Saints (Winter 2017, Autumn 2021, Autumn 2022)
  • SPAN 32810 Traducción y piratería en el mundo colonial (Spring 2017, Autumn 2018)
  • SPAN 38810 Empire, Slavery & Salvation: Writing Difference in the Colonial Americas (Spring 2018, Autumn 2020, Spring 2025)
  • RLLT 48000 Academic Job Market Preparation (Spring 2021, Spring 2023)
Affiliated Departments and Centers: Center for Latin American Studies, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture