Heather Roller - Professor of History

Colgate Directory


Heather Roller

Assistant Professor of History
History, 322 Alumni Hall
p 315-228-7563


BA 2002, Yale University
MA 2005, PhD 2010, Stanford University


Amazonia and Brazil; indigenous peoples under colonial rule; autonomous indigenous groups; mobility and migration; maps and historical geography; borderlands; comparative empires; ethnohistory


 "Autonomous Indian Nations and Peacemaking in Colonial Brazil," in Borderlands in the Iberian World: Environments, Histories, Cultures, ed. Cynthia Radding and Danna Levin-Rojo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Amazonian Routes:  Indigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014).

“River Guides, Geographical Informants, and Colonial Field Agents in the Portuguese Amazon,” Colonial Latin American Review 21:1 (April 2012), 101-126.

“Colonial Collecting Expeditions and the Pursuit of Opportunities in the Amazonian Sertão, c. 1750-1800,” The Americas 66:4 (April 2010), 435-467. [Em português:  “Expedições coloniais de coleta e a busca por oportunidades no sertão amazônico, c. 1750-1800,” Revista de História 168 (July 2013), 201-243.]


  • Howard Francis Cline Memorial Prize (2015)
  • Picker Fellowship, Colgate Research Council (2014)
  • ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship (2013-2014)
  • Garrison Fellowship for most creative scholarly project, Colgate University (2012)
  • Warren Dean Prize, honorable mention (2011)
  • Tibesar Prize for most distinguished article in The Americas (2010)
  • Helen Hornbeck Tanner Award, American Society for Ethnohistory (2009)
  • Mabelle McLeod Lewis Dissertation Fellowship (2008-2009)
  • Fulbright-Hays Research Abroad Fellowship for Brazil (2006-2007)
  • Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies (2003-2004)

Documenting the Amazon Project

This is a small collection of archival and published primary sources on the historical Amazon that I translated into English (see note on translations).  Each of the PDFs contains several related documents, along with an introduction that provides context and draws attention to the main themes.

The Portuguese Inquisition Comes to the Amazon (1764 and 1767)
  • Themes:  religion and deviance; sorcery and magic; resistance; gender and sexuality; race and ethnicity; popular culture
  • Document genre:  Inquisition denunciations
“They are the Hands and Feet of the Europeans” (1758-1776)
  • Themes:  labor regimes; colonial economy; social hierarchies
  • Document genre:  missionary chronicle
Exploits of an Indigenous Headman (1769 and 1770)
  • Themes:  resistance; colonial Indian administration; frontier violence
  • Document genre: village-level correspondence
Bringing Indians into the Colonial Sphere (1775 and 1766)
  • Themes:  cultural intermediaries; colonial Indian administration; cross-cultural encounters and communication
  • Document genre:  village-level correspondence
A Voluntary Slave, 1780 and 1784
  • Themes:  slavery and servitude; resistance; social hierarchies
  • Document genres:  notarial documents; official correspondence
Petition from Alter do Chão (1824)
  • Themes:  resistance; social hierarchies; race and ethnicity
  • Document genre:  village-level correspondence