Paulina L. Alberto

Paulina L. Alberto

Professor of African and African American Studies and of History
Picture of Paulina Alberto


On leave 2022-2023

Paulina L. Alberto is a historian of Afro-Latin American lives, thought, and politics as they unfolded in the aftermath of slavery, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Her work explores the intersections of ideas of race and nation in Latin America, with a focus on how Afro-Latin Americans have shaped and contested the region's ideologies of racial inclusiveness in their ongoing struggles for recognition and equality.

Alberto’s latest single-authored work is Black Legend: The Many Lives of Raúl Grigera and the Power of Racial Storytelling in Argentina (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Black Legend reconstructs both the life story of and the legends surrounding Raúl Grigera, a Black celebrity and icon of the Buenos Aires nightlife in the early 1900s. It examines the role of “racial storytelling” in constructing Whiteness and Blackness in post-independence Argentina and the power of racial stories to shape the fates of individuals, communities, and nations. Alberto’s first book, Terms of Inclusion: Black Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), charts the changing terms through which self-defined Black intellectuals in three major Brazilian cities negotiated the meanings of racial inclusiveness in their multi-racial nation, and the place of people of African descent within it, between 1920 and 1980. Her co-edited volume Rethinking Race in Modern Argentina (with Eduardo Elena, Cambridge University Press, 2016) is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that newly places twentieth- and twenty-first century Argentina in conversation with the literature on race and nation in Latin America more broadly. Her most recent co-edited work, with George Reid Andrews and Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, is Voices of the Race: Black Newspapers of Latin America (1870-1960) (Cambridge University Press, 2022), a volume of selected articles from the historical Black presses of Latin America, annotated and translated for English-language audiences.

Her work has received support from the Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council for Learned Societies, among other institutions, and has been recognized with the Roberto Reis Prize for Best Book in Brazilian Studies (2012), the Warren Dean Prize for Best Book in Brazilian History (2013), and the James Alexander Robertson Prize (2017). 

Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Alberto taught in the departments of History and Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan.  Her teaching has included courses on Latin American history; comparative race, racial ideologies, and racial narratives in Brazil, Argentina, and Afro-Latin America; the borderlands of history and fiction; and the history and philosophy of History.




Contact Information

Hutchins Center, Room 418
104 Mt. Auburn St
Cambridge, MA 02138

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