B.A., M.A., New York University; Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook
Associate Professor of History
Research focuses on politics and urban culture in the Spanish Habsburg Empire. Teaching focuses on the Spanish American and Iberian worlds.
Alejandra B. Osorio is Associate Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies. Before coming to Wellesley College in 2002, she was Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, where she was also an Assistant Scholar in Latin American Studies, and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. Her research has been supported by prestigious grants and fellowships from, among others, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Paul W. McQuillen Memorial Fellowship and Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellowship at The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States Universities, Fulbright, W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship, Tinker Foundation, and the Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship.
In her book Inventing Lima: Baroque Modernity in Peru’s South Sea Metropolis, published by Palgrave in 2008, through the analysis of civic and religious ceremonies, Osorio traced the transformation of a sixteenth-century hamlet of ramshackle structures into the seventeenth-century legitimate political center of the viceregal court in the vast Viceroyalty of Peru. Thorough the study of this urban political culture, she questioned the prevailing “colonial” paradigm of center/periphery for understanding the place of cities like Lima in the configuration of geopolitical power of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century empires such as that of the Spanish Habsburg, and more broadly that of “Colonial Latin America” in modern history.
Professor Osorio is currently working on a political cultural history of the Spanish Habsburg Empire between 1519 and 1700. Her book manuscript, tentatively titled The First Modern, deals with the interrelationships of architecture, urban design, ceremonies and ceremonial spaces, the law, and the image of the king in the establishment of a common politico-cultural imperial structure and new concepts of time, and their various implications for imperial rule and building and maintaining empire. Her project problematizes conceptual models offered by Atlantic Studies and Atlantic History, and Colonial History and Postcolonial Studies for the study of the Spanish Empire of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Her study proposes new ways to think and study Empire and Modernity.
Osorio has conducted research in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, England, France, and the United States. She has been a visiting scholar at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos in Lima, Peru, the Colegio de México in Mexico City, and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, in Spain, and has taught at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Quito, Ecuador. From 2005-2010 she was a member of the Group for the Study of Political Culture in America (GEHCPA) at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, in Mexico City. In 1996-1997 she was a Fulbright scholar at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and between 1995-1997 a member of the Seminar on Peruvian Historiography and Gender Studies at CENDOC-Mujer, in Lima, Peru.
Osorio received a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University, and a Certificate in Women Studies and a Ph.D. in History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She was born in Santiago, Chile and has lived for extended periods in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Spain.