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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Carlos Fonseca

Assistant Professor in Postcolonial Latin American Literature and Culture
Fellow of Trinity College
College Lecturer at Newnham College
Spanish & Portuguese
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 7990 033 478

Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Raised Faculty Building
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom

Trinity College 
Sidgwick Avenue 


Carlos Fonseca is a writer and academic. His teaching, writing and research focuses on modern Latin American literature, art and culture, with particular emphasis on concepts of history, nature and politics. He is interested in the intersection between philosophy, literature and art history. He holds a PhD from Princeton University.

He is the author of three novels, Coronel LágrimasMuseo animal, and Austral all published in Spanish by Anagrama and in English by Restless Books and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages. He is the author of the book of essays La lucidez del miope, a book that explores writers as diverse as Ricardo Piglia, W.G. Sebald, Marta Aponte, Joao Gilberto Noll and Enrique Vila-Matas, among others. For this book he was awarded the National Prize of Culture of Costa Rica, in the essay category. He has written articles on topics such as Simón Bolívar and Alexander Von Humboldt, Ricardo Piglia and technology, Roberto Bolaño and forensic aesthetics, Marta Aponte and the biographical archive, Enrique Vila-Matas and the avant-garde, Wifredo Lam and the postcolonial imagination, Teresa Margolles’s counter-forensic archives, Euclides da Cunha and geohistory, Antonion Artaud and his Mexican journeys, among others….

His academic monograph The Literature of Catastrophe: Nature, Disaster and Revolution in Latin America, published from Bloomsbury, tells the ecohistory of how discourses on nature and discourses on history intertwined during the violent aftermath of the Latin American Wars of Independence. Synthesizing intellectual history and readings of textual production, and focusing on how natural catastrophes became tropes for thinking through historical eventuality during the 19th and 20th century in Latin America.

The first of his two new projects, entitled The Buried Archive: Latin America and the Rise of a Forensic Aesthetics, sketches a history of the rise of a post-memory witnessing aesthetic in Latin America, while simultaneously tracing the story of the rise of human rights forensic anthropology groups in the region.

The second project, entitled At the Brink of Dawn: A Journey Across the Colonial Fantasy, explores the works of Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, in its relationship to what, following James Clifford, we could call the ethnographic avant-garde. Following the triptych structure proposed by the succession of twilight (Walcott), night (Lam), and dawn (Césaire), the project aims to  think through how Lam’s post-human ecologies allow us to imagine the possibility of post-colonial futures after the so-called end of history.

Teaching interests: 

Latin American literature and cultures

Research interests: 

Caribbean and Central American Literature, Theories of the Postcolonial Imagination, the History of the Avant-Garde, Overlaps of Art History, Philosophy and Literary History, Theories of the Novel and the Historical Archive, Eco-humanities.

Recent research projects: 

The Buried Archive: Latin America and the Rise of a Forensic Aesthetics

Published works: 



 The Literature of Catastrophe: Nature, Disaster and Revolution in Latin America(Bloomsbury Press, 2020)

Books of Essays:

 La lucidez del miope (Editorial Germinal) Winner of the National Prize of Culture of Costa Rica


Coronel Lágrimas (Anagrama, 2015)

       Published in English as Colonel Lágrimas (Restless Books, 2016)

Museo animal (Anagrama, 2017)

      Published in English as Natural History (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020)

Austral (Anagrama, 2022)

      Forthcoming in English as Austral (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2023, and MacLehose Press 2023)


Dr. Fonseca welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to his.