Alejandra Osorio

Associate Professor of History

Scholar of urban history and political culture in the Spanish Habsburg world.

Alejandra B. Osorio is Associate Professor of History, and Chair of the History Department.

She is the former Resident Director of the Programa de Estudios Hispánicos en Córdoba, Spain (PRESHCO) (2015-2017), and former Director of Latin American Studies (2013-2015) at Wellesley College. 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.

Osorio’s research has been supported by prestigious grants and fellowships from 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, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, Fulbright, W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship, Tinker Foundation, and the Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship.

She is currently a member of three international research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, at the Universitat de Barcelona Poder y Representaciones culturales en la Época Moderna: La Monarquía de España como campo cultural (Siglos XVI-XVIII)” (Ref. HAR2016-78304- C2-1-P), at the UNED-Madrid Identidades femeninas en la edad moderna, una historia en construcción: aristócratas de la Casa de Mendoza (1450-1700) (Ref. PDI2019-105283GB-I00), and at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Práctica de gobierno y cultura política: Europa y América en la monarquía de España, 1668-1725 (EurAmer) (Ref. PID2019-108822GB-I00). She is a member of the International Scientific Council of the Doctorate in History at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, of the Editorial Board of the History Series: TRANSFERÈNCIES 1400-1800 at the Universitat de Barcelona Press, and of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Renaissance Quarterly (US), where she also served as a member of its Editorial Board (2015-2018). She is currently an elected member to the Executive Committee of the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (ASPHS), and was the elected Americas Representative to the Renaissance Society of America (RSA; 2015-2020), where she also chaired its Diversity (formerly Minority) Travel Grant Award Committee. She is a member of the Organizing Committee of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) 2021 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, CA, and of the Red Columnaria-Chile.

Inventng Lima book cover

In her book Inventing Lima: Baroque Modernity in Peru’s South Sea Metropolis, published by Palgrave in 2008, 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 through the analysis of civic and religious ceremonies. Her study questioned prevailing understadnigns of “colonial” and framewroks of center/periphery for understanding the place of cities such as Lima in the configuration of geopolitical power of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century empires.

Osorio current research takes on questions and issues raised during the writing of Inventing Lima about the social and cultural nature of the Spanish Habsburg Empire’s political culture in its global imperial context. Recent publications deal with various aspects of early modern urban history and urban political culture in the Spanish imperial world, and the scholarly writings of this history, problematizing often-used conceptual models offered by Atlantic Studies, Atlantic History, notions of hybridity, colonial copies and original modernity, as well as Colonial History and Postcolonial Studies for the study and understanding of the Spanish Empire. Earlier publications dealt with issues of religious conversion, and with feminist understandings of the place of women in the construction of religious culture in the viceroyalty of Peru and in the Andean world more broadly.

Osorio has conducted research in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, 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. She is a former member of the Group for the Study of Political Culture in America (GEHCPA) at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, in Mexico City, and of the Seminar on Peruvian Historiography and Gender Studies at CENDOC-Mujer, in Lima, Peru, and a former Fulbright scholar at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). She serves as reviewer of research projects for CONICYT-FONDECYT (Chile), FLACSO-Quito (Ecuador), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and various academic presses and international scholarly journals.

Osorio received a Ph.D. in History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she also obtained a Certificate in Women Studies, and a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University. She has traveled widely and has lived for extended periods in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Spain.



HIST207 Contepmorary Problems in Latin American History

HIST211 The Empire of the Indies: Spanish Rule in America and the Philippines (ca. 1500s-1780s)

HIST212 Atlantic Revolutions and the Birth of Nations

HIST215 Gender and Nation in Latin America

HIST218 Dictatorship, Authoritarianism, and Transition to Democracy in Spain and Latin America

HIST358 Seminar: Pepper, Silver, and Silk: The Political Culture of Early Commodity Circulation

HIST359 Seminar: Speaking Ruins: Antiquity and Modernity in the History of the Spanish World

HIST375 Seminar: Empire and Modernity: The Rise and Fall of Spanish World Power

HIST376 Seminar: Medicine, Public Health, and Nation Building in latin America, 1890s-2000s

HIST377 Seminar: The City in Latin America


  • B.A., New York University
  • M.A., New York University
  • Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook

Current and upcoming courses

  • This foundational course in international history explores the evolution of trade, competition, and cultural interaction among the world's diverse communities, from the Mongol conquests of the late thirteenth century through the end of the twentieth century. Themes include: the centrality of Asia to the earliest global networks of trade and interaction; the rise of European wealth and power in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; empires; imperialism and its impact; the evolution of the nation-state; scientific and industrial revolutions; and "modernization" and the new patterns of globalization during the late twentieth century. Attention to agents of global integration, including trade, technology, migration, dissemination of ideas, conquest, war, and disease.