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Raquel Albarrán

Assistant Professor of Luso-Hispanic Studies

 work(802) 443-5523
 Fall 2021: Wednesday 1:30 - 3:00 and 3:30 - 5:00 PM, and by appointment
 Voter Hall 207

Raquel Albarrán is Assistant Professor of Luso-Hispanic Studies at Middlebury College. Albarrán earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Middlebury in 2018, she held appointments at the University of Washington and at Florida State University. A specialist of colonial Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, her current research examines the ways in which materiality shaped notions of race and ethnicity in the New World. She has received fellowships from Penn’s Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Humanities Forum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Her first academic book, Colonial Assemblages: Race, Materiality, and the Invention of the New World (in progress) focuses attention on the materiality of race in colonial Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Colonial Assemblages traces the emergence of an object-centered discourse invested in the production of Blackness and Indigeneity as “objective” formations; that is, as a set of physical articulations that mask the multiple tensions operating simultaneously in the field of colonial representation. This book opens up assemblage theory to the study of colonial racialization. The analysis presented summons various assemblages of colonial modernity developed by early modern writers and artisans, decolonial thinkers (Fanon, Wynter), and queer of color/feminist critique (Puar, Weheliye). The project also excavates the ways in which material objects continue to shape the re-invention of the New World in current disciplinary understandings of race in early Latin America. This study interweaves new close readings of well-known colonial sources with detailed commentary of over 40 examples of material culture—including maps, commodities, archaeological artifacts, visual art, and other physical signifying practices. At the heart of this book’s decolonial élan, colonial assemblages emerge amidst the ruins of the Hispanic American colonial canon. Through and beyond these assemblages, New World colonial subjects reimagine the ontological grounds of the colonized experience, offering us vital counter-narratives to the racialized histories of objectification that persist in colonialism and coloniality.

Albarrán is co-editor of La piel del arrecife: Antología de poesía trans puertorriqueña (La Impresora, forthcoming), the first poetry collection featuring the work of trans poets from the Puerto Rican archipelago. 

At Middlebury, Prof. Albarrán teaches all levels of language, literature, and culture courses, including courses on colonial Latin America, the Hispanic Caribbean, and the Latinx experience.

Selected publications


Colonial Assemblages: Race, Materiality, and the Invention of the New World (in progress).

La piel del arrecife: Antología de poesía trans puertorriqueña, edited by Val Arboniés Flores, Raquel Salas Rivera, and Raquel Albarrán, La Impresora (forthcoming).

Intimidad de los extraños. Atarraya Cartonera, 2010.

Peer-Reviewed Essays

Material Encounters: Columbus’s Diario del primer viaje and the Objects of Colonial Latin American and Caribbean Studies.” Routledge Hispanic Studies Companion to Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean (1492-1898), edited by Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel and Santa Arias, Routledge, 2020, pp. 249-266.

“Schomburg and the Coloniality of Objects: An Introduction.” New Approaches to Latinx and the Caribbean, special issue of Studies in American Culture, edited by Delia Poey and John Ribó, vol. 43, no. 1, 2020, pp. 42-53.

Other Writing

Co-author (with Carmen Alicia Reyes Arroyo), “Paperlessness.” Puerto Rico En Mi Corazón, edited by Carina del Valle Schorske, Ricardo Maldonado, Erica Mena, and Raquel Salas Rivera. AnomalousPress, 2019, pp. 1-3.


“A falta de papel.” Translated by Ricardo Maldonado. Puerto Rico En Mi Corazón, edited by Carina del Valle Schorske, Ricardo Maldonado, Erica Mena, and Raquel Salas Rivera. AnomalousPress, 2019, pp. 4-6.

Life After Death in the Puerto Rican Commonwealth: Four Propositions on Autopoietic Desire and Coloniality.” Milieux of Desire, special issue of La Deleuziana, edited by Jeanne Etelain and Anaïs Nony, vol. 6, 2017, pp. 177-181.

“El primer paso para escribir la opacidad . . . [‘On a entre-temps épuisé, s’il se trouve, l’actualité de la question des différences (du droit à la difference)’: A Poetic Translation of Glissant].” Dolce Stil Criollo 3: Tropical Opacity, edited by Christopher Rey Pérez Guerrero and Gabriel Finotti. La Impresora, 2017, p. 8.

Video Art:

Sometimes Always, “Por la opacidad.” YouTube, uploaded by Sometimes Always, 10 November 2017,

Teaching and Research Interests

Colonial literatures and cultures: Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean
Contemporary Hispanic Caribbean and Afro-Latinx literatures and cultures
Race and racialization
Material culture studies and new materialisms
Literary, postcolonial, decolonial, and queer theory

Affiliated Programs and Centers

Black Studies Program
Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity
Latin American Studies, International and Global Studies Program




Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

SPAN 0101 - Beginning Spanish I      

Beginning Spanish I
This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of grammar and focuses on the development of four skills in Spanish: comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis will be placed on active communication aimed at the development of oral and comprehension skills. This course is for students who have not previously studied Spanish. Students are expected to continue with SPAN 0102 and SPAN 0103 after successful completion of SPAN 0101. 5 hrs. lect./disc.

Fall 2019

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SPAN 0201 - Intermediate Spanish      

Intermediate Spanish
This accelerated course is designed to review, reinforce, and consolidate the linguistic structures that students need in order to reach the intermediate level of proficiency in Spanish. A grammar review will accompany intensive language acquisition, vocabulary expansion, readings, discussions, and compositions. (Placement test required) 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. drill. LNG

Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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SPAN 0220 - Intermediate Spanish II      

Intermediate Spanish II
A course for students seeking to perfect their academic writing skills in Spanish. The course is also an introduction to literary analysis and critical writing and will include reading and oral discussion of literary texts. The course will also include a thorough review of grammar at a fairly advanced level. This course may be used to fulfill the foreign languages distribution requirement. (SPAN 0201, SPAN 0210, or placement) 3 hrs. lect./disc. LNG

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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SPAN 0305 / BLST 0305 - XICANXRIBEÑXS      

XICANXRIBEÑXS: Our Stories, Our Worlds
In this course we will study how Chicanos/Xicanxs and Hispanic Caribbean communities have organized networks of solidarity to overcome oppression and work towards liberation. The Spanish portmanteau “XICANXRIBEÑXS” is an ode to the famous Revista Chicano-Riqueña that evolved out of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Ethnic Studies in the 1960s and early 1970s. We will examine their de/colonial histories, contentious status as diasporic communities, and literary and artistic legacies. Some topics may include Latinx print culture, Gloria Anzaldúa’s mestiza feminism in relation to Afro-Caribbean feminisms, and musical cultures from/ bomba/ and fandango to Selena and Cardi B. (SPAN 0220 or by placement) 3 hrs. lect./disc. AAL AMR LIT LNG

Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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SPAN 0312 - Whose "New World"      

Whose “New World”?: Early Latin America after Eurocentrism
Colonialism in the so-called New World may have begun with Columbus in 1492, but its impact continues to be felt across the lands that some Indigenous groups call Abya Yala today. In this course we will study how Indigenous and Black communities and other human actors in the region spearheaded, since the late fifteenth century, the first global wave of decolonization in response to the catastrophic transformations brought about by early modern Spanish imperialism. We will consider oral and written testimonies, visual art, material artifacts, and cultural performances from pre-Hispanic times to the long eighteenth century. Our goal will be to re-imagine an early Latin American world beyond/outside/after Eurocentrism. (SPAN 0220 or by placement) 3 hrs. lect./disc. AAL AMR LIT LNG

Fall 2021

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SPAN 0319 - #CaribeDIY      

#CaribeDIY: DIY Aesthetics and Alternative Markets in the Hispanic Caribbean
Recent artistic and cultural productions in the Hispanic Caribbean and its diaspora reflect upon conditions of dislocation, neglect, and decay. They resituate the trinomial “building, dwelling, thinking” (Heidegger) in the tropics to foreground the tensions between precarity and excess that have imprinted their stamp in the region. What aesthetic, political, and social projects emerge from recycling and ruination? What are their emancipatory possibilities? Or, on the contrary, are they themselves condemned to reproduce the logics of the market and its multiple forms of violence? In this course we will examine literary and cultural practices from the Hispanic Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic), from the 1970s to the present, which can be loosely grouped under the concept of do-it-yourself or DIY. Some of the major themes include: intellectuals and materiality; technological disobedience; alternative publics and the rise of cartoneras; migration and objecthood; material poetics, gender, and sexual dissidence; autogestión, collective utopias, and the commons; digital cultures and new media; post-nationalism and decolonial approaches. As a final capstone project, all students will complete two requirements: a short final paper and a DIY audiovisual or digital project (a zine, video, artwork, or sound recording, etc.) inspired by the techniques studied. Previous experience on the latter is not necessary, but willingness to experiment in a self-directed manner is essential. (Spanish 0220 or by placement) 3 hrs. lect./disc. AAL AMR ART LIT LNG

Spring 2019, Fall 2019

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SPAN 0461 - Colonial Objects      

Colonial Objects: Materiality and the Invention of the New World
Beyond gold and silver, what objects served as the building blocks of Spanish colonialism in the New World? What is the relationship between material culture and mestizaje? How do indigenous and black bodies—the flesh of unsovereign otherness—materialize in the language of empire? In this seminar we will explore the role of objects and material culture in shaping colonial discourse during the long history of colonialism in Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Our primary readings assemble an operational canon: from “discovery” and early-contact narratives by Cristóbal Colón and Fray Ramón Pané to the proliferation of ambivalent discourses about colonial subjects, objects, and others that pose a threat to colonial order, including works by Bernardo de Balbuena, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Alongside these texts, we will consider as well examples of material culture (maps, visual art, artifacts, commodities, and archaeological remnants) from pre-Columbian and colonial times to the present (Two Spanish courses numbered 0350 or above, or by waiver.) 3 hrs. sem. AAL AMR ART LIT

Spring 2020, Spring 2022

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SPAN 0705 - Senior Honors Thesis      

Senior Honors Thesis
The department will award honors, high honors, or highest honors on the basis of a student's work in the department and performance in SPAN 0705. (Approval only)

Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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Department of Luso-Hispanic Studies

Voter Hall
303 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753