Sawyer Seminar: About


Pedro Machado is Associate Professor of History, Indiana University, and a global and Indian Ocean historian with interests in commodity histories, labor and migratory movements, and the social, cultural, environmental and commercial trajectories of objects. He is the author of several works, among which are Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Textile Trades, Consumer Cultures and the Material Worlds of the Indian Ocean  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); and Pearls, People and Power: Pearling and Indian Ocean Worlds  (Ohio University Press, 2020). He is currently at work on a global history of pearling and shell collection and exchange while also developing research on eucalyptus and colonial forestry in the Portuguese empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Olimpia E. Rosenthal is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Indiana University. Her main research areas include colonial Latin American cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and visual culture. Her first book, Race, Sex and Segregation in Colonial Latin America (Routledge 2022) examines the emergence and early development of indigenous segregationist policies in Spanish and Portuguese America. The book shows that segregationist measures influenced the material reorganization of space, shaped colonial processes of racialization, and contributed to the politicization of reproductive sex. Her work has also been published in journals from various countries, and she has organized a series of international conferences, including one on subaltern studies at Indiana University’s Gateway Center in India.


Ishan Ashutosh research focuses on the production of South Asia along two lines of inquiry. The first concerns South Asian diasporas, whose histories and experiences of spatial dispersal and connection reimagine the region through transnational forms of belonging and political solidarities. The second examines social scientific constructions of South Asia, particularly in American geography and its relationship with other social sciences. He has published widely in these areas.

Alex Lichtenstein is Professor of History and American Studies at Indiana University. His publications include Twice the Work of Free Labor, that highlights the important role convict labor played in the redevelopment of the post-Civil War south and as a precursor to mass incarceration today. He has recently published Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid, based on a photography exhibit curated at IU and in South Africa, and Marked, Unmarked, Remembered: A Geography of American Memory His current research focuses on the history of Black trade unions under apartheid.

Ursula Romero is a public services librarian at The Lilly Library, Indiana University’s rare books and manuscripts library, where she has worked since September 2019. In this role, she teaches classes on a wide variety of subjects, plans outreach events, manages the Lilly’s social media accounts, and provides reference services. Ursula is also a Rare Book School-Mellon Cultural Heritage Fellow, and is dedicated to highlighting the lives and stories of historically excluded groups, and to making these stories accessible to students, researchers, and the general public. Her interests include Black history, labor history, and historic fashion.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Genie Yoo is a postdoctoral fellow for the Sawyer Seminar. She is a historian of island Southeast Asia, working at the intersection of history of science, medicine, environmental history, philology and religion. As a postdoc, she will be examining historical connections between slavery, medicinal knowledge, forms of labor, and the environment in Indonesia's spice-producing islands. She received her PhD in History from Princeton University.