Natalie Belisle

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email

Research & Practice Areas

Contemporary Caribbean Literature, Visual Media, and Cultural Studies; Caribbean Phenomenology; Postcolonial and Decolonial theory; Political Philosophy; Speculative Fiction; Race and the African Diaspora in Latin America


My research is interested, broadly, in the centrality of the Caribbean to the formation and ordering of the modern world, post 1492, and the development and articulation of Western modernity and its attendant concepts—whether the human being and citizen, belonging, race, or home and property, to name a few.

I focus on literature, visual media, and cultural production from the contemporary Caribbean, both in terms of how they complicate the “official” archive of Western history and in terms of their entanglement with the sociopolitical formation of  postemancipation Latin America and the Caribbean. Although popular culture has helped shape the image of the Caribbean as an idyllic space (“sun, sea, and pleasure”), bereft of thought, and merely incidental to the Western world, my scholarly work draws attention to the Caribbean’s genesis within and against the archive of global history and thought. Given the Caribbean’s unique constitution through the convergence of racially diverse peoples from across the globe, I am interested in how Caribbean literary and cultural representations of  difference mediate on belonging, knowledge, and existence by taking positions that challenge the Enlightenment and liberal humanist traditions of the West. In this latter regard, my scholarly work is informed by the understanding that Caribbean literary, visual, and cultural texts constitute, in and of themselves, forms of what we call “thought” or “theory”.  

I am completing my first book project, tentatively titled “Caribbean Inhospitality: The Poetics of Strangers at Home”. Engaging contemporary literature, visual and digital media, and theory from the Spanish, Anglophone, and the Francophone Caribbean, my book charts the historic, economic, and discursive transformation of the Caribbean as a space that is hospitable to foreigners, and argues that this idea of Caribbean hospitality not only informs the articulation of regional and national sovereignty but, also, delimits the idea of citizenship and rights available to citizens of Caribbean nations.

I am developing a second book project tentatively titled “The Opacity of Belief: The Other Worlds of Caribbean Speculation”. This project interrogates the idea of belief through an analysis of representations of the occult, the otherworldly, and the supernatural in speculative narratives of the Caribbean and its Diaspora. It endeavors to theorize opacity as an epistemology of localized belief.


  • A.B. Romance Languages and Literatures, The University of Chicago
  • M.A. Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Ph.D. Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Natalie L. Belisle’s research and teaching engage contemporary Caribbean literature, visual media, and cultural production. She is particularly interested in the relationship between aesthetics and political practice, racial mobilities in Latin America, political philosophy, and theories of existence in phenomenology and speculative fiction. Prof. Belisle is completing a book project Caribbean Inhospitality: The Poetics of Strangers at Home (under contract, Rutgers University Press).

  • Book Review

    • Belisle, N. L. (2008). Review of Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals, and Fantasies of Conquest. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

    Journal Article

    • Belisle, N. L. (2021). Passing Life, Playing Dead: Zombification as Juridical Shapeshifting in Pedro Cabiya’s Malas hierbas. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. Vol. 30 (1), pp. 25-45.
    • Belisle, N. L. (2021). The Head that Remains. Diacritics. Vol. 49 (2)
    • Belisle, N. L. (2014). Literatura Nullius: The Untranslatability of Eduardo Lalo and the Multirrelation of the Puerto Rican Intellectual. Small Axe: A Journal of Caribbean Criticism. Vol. 18 (2)