Heather Roller

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Heather Roller

Professor of History and Environmental Studies

Department/Office Information

History, Environmental Studies
322 Alumni Hall

Heather Roller teaches courses on global environmental history, Brazil and Amazonia, and the histories of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

She is the author of Amazonian Routes: Indigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2014), which received awards from the Brazilian Studies Association and the Conference on Latin American History. Drawing on local sources from across the Portuguese Amazon in the eighteenth century, the book traces how Indigenous villagers created an enduring culture of mobility along the waterways of this region.

Her second book, Contact Strategies: Histories of Native Autonomy in Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2021) examines how independent Native groups initiated and controlled contact with Brazilian society over about two centuries. It won the Friedrich Katz Prize from the American Historical Association and the Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Book Prize from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

Roller's current book project is A Social and Environmental History of Agrichemicals. It explores how people in rural communities have experienced and perceived the role of agrichemicals in their lives and landscapes, from the 1970s to the present. What stories have they told about agrichemical practices and the ecological worlds shaped by these substances? Although focused (for now) on the United States, the project comes out of years of seeking to understand social and environmental transformations in Brazil, another country where agrichemical use has become deeply embedded in rural life.

Personal website

BA, Yale University
MA, PhD, Stanford University

  • Amazonia and Brazil
  • Global environmental history
  • Agricultural history
  • Toxicity
  • Indigenous histories
  • Colonialism
New book cover


Contact Strategies: Histories of Native Autonomy in Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2021).

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

Selected Articles and Chapters

"A Shared Toxic History," in History Unclassified, American Historical Review 125, no. 5 (December 2020): 1740-1750.

"Autonomous Indian Nations and Peacemaking in Colonial Brazil," in The Oxford Handbook of Borderlands of the Iberian World, ed. Danna A. Levin Rojo and Cynthia Radding (Oxford University Press, 2019).

“On the Verge of Total Extinction? From Guaikurú to Kadiwéu in Nineteenth-Century Brazil," Ethnohistory 65, no. 4 (2018): 647-670.

“River Guides, Geographical Informants, and Colonial Field Agents in the Portuguese Amazon,” Colonial Latin American Review 21, no. 1 (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.]

  • Friedrich Katz Prize, American Historical Association (2022)
  • Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Prize, Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association (2022)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2017-2018)
  • Roberto Reis Book Prize, Brazilian Studies Association (2015)
  • Howard Francis Cline Memorial Prize, Conference on Latin American History (2015)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2013-2014)
  • Warren Dean Prize, honorable mention, Conference on Latin American History (2011)
  • Tibesar Prize, Conference on Latin American History (2010)
  • Helen Hornbeck Tanner Award, American Society for Ethnohistory (2009)
  • Fulbright-Hays Research Abroad Fellowship for Brazil (2006-2007)
  • CORE 193: Brazil
  • FSEM 192: Ethnohistory of the Amazon
  • HIST 224: Introduction to Environmental History
  • HIST 288: Animals in History
  • HIST 302: Global Toxic History
  • HIST 400: Secrets and Lies in History
  • HIST 490: Honors Seminar
  • Chair/Secretary of the Brazilian Studies Committee, Conference on Latin American History (2019-2021)
  • NEH Review Panelist (2020)
  • Member of the Editorial Board, Ethnohistory (2018-present)
  • Councillor, American Society for Ethnohistory (2018-2020)