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Edward Anthony Polanco

Edward Polanco, Assistant Professor

Edward Polanco, Assistant Professor
Edward Polanco, Assistant Professor

Department of History
428 Major Williams Hall, 220 Stanger Str.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Edward Polanco was born in Los Angeles, CA and his family and ancestors are from Kuskatan (Western El Salvador). Dr. Polanco is an assistant professor of history at Virginia Tech. He is currently completing a book manuscript tentatively titled, Healing Like our Ancestors: The Nahua Tiçitl, Gender, and Colonialism in Central Mexico; 1535-1660 (under contract with the University of Arizona Press). This project examines 16th and 17th-century Central Mexican Nahua people (Indigenous groups with diverse communities in Mexico and El Salvador) and focuses on Nahua healing ceremonial specialists. Dr. Polanco carefully analyzes the different healing tasks women and men had in their communities, and how Spanish authorities dealt with Native practitioners as they attempted to convert Indigenous populations in New Spain (today known as Mexico and Central America). He has published on Indigenous healing knowledge, and gendered understandings of the human body. For further information, please visit Professor Polanco's personal website.

Various fellowships and institutions have funded Dr. Polanco’s work, including the Fulbright-García Robles research grant, and the Newberry Library (National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellowship).

Dr. Polanco is committed to amplifying and centering Native voices and perspectives in his research, the classroom, and on Virginia Tech’s campus. To achieve this, he works closely with Latinx and Native communities on campus, and in the US and Latin America.

Dr. Polanco’s teaching interests include Native history, Latin America, Mexico, El Salvador, Mesoamerica, sorcery, race, gender, and class. He has introduced various new courses to Virginia Tech that challenge students to think about the past from Native perspectives.

  • Ethnohistory
  • Colonial Mexico
  • Latin America
  • Colonialism
  • El Salvador
  • Native History
  • The Nahua world
  • Ph.D. in History with a minor in Anthropology, The University of Arizona
  • M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside
  • B.A. in History, University of California, Riverside
  • Department of History Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member
  • Department of History Undergraduate Committee
  • Presidential Principles of Community Individual Award, 2021
  • Dr. Maria Teresa Velez Diversity Leadership Scholarship, The University of Arizona

Journal Articles

Polanco, Edward. “Tiçiyotl and Titiçih: Late Postclassic and Early Colonial Nahua Healing, Diagnosis, and Prognosis.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Oxford University Press. Article published October 2019. doi:  

Polanco, Edward Anthony. "“I Am Just a Tiçitl”: Decolonizing Central Mexican Nahua Female Healers, 1535–1635." Ethnohistory 65, no. 3 (2018): 441-463.doi:

Polanco, Edward Anthony. “‘The Chamber of Your Virginity does not have a Price’: The Scientific Construction of the Hymen as an Indicator of Sexual Initiation in Eighteenth-Century Spain.” Footnotes: A Journal of History 1, 2017: 67-88.

  • Newberry Library National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellowship, 2021-22
  • American Indian and Indigenous Community Center Faculty Fellow, VT 2020-21
  • Juneteenth Scholar, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, VT 2020
  • New Faculty Mentoring Project Grant, Office of the Provost, VT 2020
  • Niles Research Grant, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, VT 2019
  • International Initiative Small Grant, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, VT 2018 & 2019
  • International Travel Grant for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, VT 2019
  • Fulbright-García Robles Research Grant for Mexico, US Department of Education (2015-16)

“Making Medicine out of Tiçiyotl”, Medical Humanities Research Group – University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, November 29, 2018

Dr. Polanco teaches Latin American history, indigenous history, and Historical Methods.

Dr. Polanco invites all students interested in working on Latin America, Colonialism, or Native History to contact him.

Featured Books