Recent Faculty Publications

Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights, Aldo A. Lauria Santiago

Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights, Lorrin Thomas and Aldo A. Lauria SantiagoRethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights offers a reexamination of the history of Puerto Ricans’ political and social activism in the United States in the twentieth century. Authors Lorrin Thomas and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago survey the ways in which Puerto Ricans worked within the United States to create communities for themselves and their compatriots in times and places where dark-skinned or ‘foreign’ Americans were often unwelcome. The authors argue that the energetic Puerto Rican rights movement which rose to prominence in the late 1960s was built on a foundation of civil rights activism beginning much earlier in the century. The text contextualizes Puerto Rican activism within the broader context of twentieth-century civil rights movements, while emphasizing the characteristics and goals unique to the Puerto Rican experience. Lucid and insightful, Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights provides a much-needed introduction to a lesser-known but critically important social and political movement.


An Agrarian Republic: Commercial Agriculture and the Politics of Peasant Communities in El Salvador, 1823-1914, Aldo A. Lauria Santiago

Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights, Lorrin Thomas and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago

With unprecedented use of local and national sources, Lauria-Santiago presents a more complex portrait of El Salvador than has ever been ventured before. Using thoroughly researched regional case studies, Lauria-Santiago uncovers an astonishing variety of patterns in land use, labor, and the organization of production. He finds a diverse, commercially active peasantry that was deeply involved with local and national networks of power. An Agrarian Republic challenges the accepted vision of Central America in the nineteenth century and critiques the "liberal oligarchic hegemony" model of El Salvador. Detailed discussions of Ladino victories and successful Indian resistance give a perspective on Ladinization that does not rely on a polarized understanding of ethnic identity.


Carefully tracing the manifold ways in which national political and economic developments were mediated by local histories and politics, Lauria-Santiago thus establishes a well-argued middle ground between micro-level cultural histories and macro-level models of political economy, bringing the people back in, as it were, without neglecting the structural factors that shaped their lives, choices, and opportunities for collective action. . . . Well researched and gracefully written, this book will be of great interest to anyone concerned with peasant politics, state formation, Latin American liberalism, and Salvadoran history and politics.

American Historical Review

[A] country vastly more diverse and complex than the one previously described in the literature emerges, a portrait that is sure to leave a lasting impression on novice and expert alike, not to mention the historiography.

South Eastern Latin Americanist

Based on solid and extensive research, this work should prompt a reexamination of peasant and agrarian history not only in El Salvador but also in other regions of Latin America.


An Agrarian Republic is a thoroughly researched work with a clear and consistent argument. The book is invariably objective, drawing a contrast with the numerous studies influenced by Central America's political polarization. In addition to its academic contribution, the book is a lucid read, with concise, insightful summaries appropriately sprinkled throughout. 'An Agrarian Republic' is a must not only for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of El Salvador's history and the processes leading to authoritarianism and the civil war of the 1980s, but also for analysts of state formation in general.


Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, Aldo A. Lauria Santiago

Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights, Lorrin Thomas and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago

Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State brings together new research on the social history of Central America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Aviva Chomsky and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago have gathered both well-known and emerging scholars to demonstrate how the actions and ideas of rural workers, peasants, migrants, and women formed an integral part of the growth of the export economies of the era and to examine the underacknowledged impact such groups had on the shaping of national histories.
Responding to the fact that the more common, elite-centered “national” histories distort or erase the importance of gender, race, ethnicity, popular consciousness, and identity, contributors to this volume correct this imbalance by moving these previously overlooked issues to the center of historical research and analysis. In so doing, they describe how these marginalized working peoples of the Hispanic Caribbean Basin managed to remain centered on not only class-based issues but on a sense of community, a desire for dignity, and a struggle for access to resources. Individual essays include discussions of plantation justice in Guatemala, highland Indians in Nicaragua, the effects of foreign corporations in Costa Rica, coffee production in El Salvador, banana workers in Honduras, sexuality and working-class feminism in Puerto Rico, the Cuban sugar industry, agrarian reform in the Dominican Republic, and finally, potential directions for future research and historiography on Central America and the Caribbean.

This collection will have a wide audience among Caribbeanists and Central Americanists, as well as students of gender studies, and labor, social, Latin American, and agrarian history.

Contributors. Patricia Alvarenga, Barry Carr, Julie A. Charlip, Aviva Chomsky, Dario Euraque, Eileen Findlay, Cindy Forster, Jeffrey L. Gould, Lowell Gudmundson, Aldo A. Lauria Santiago, Francisco Scarano, Richard Turits


Identity and Struggle contributes to an important new body of scholarship reinterpreting the social history of Central America and the Caribbean from the bottom up. . . . One strength of these essays is their recognition of agency in the actions of those marginalized from power.” — Richard Stahler-Sholk , Labor History

“[An] important volume.” — Helen Johnson, Interventions

“[I]nnovative, deeply researched case studies. . . . [T]his is a rich volume that brings the small countries of Central America and the Spanish Caribbean to center stage. . . . This book will be essential reading for graduate students and others who intend to work on the region; and it will appeal to anyone concerned with labor, race, nation, gender and the intersections of political, cultural and socioeconomic history.” — Catherine LeGrand , Hispanic American Historical Review

“This book contributes to a more balanced account of the building and consolidation of the Central American-Hispanic Caribbean nation-states by documenting less well known but influential sectors and issues that shaped their history.” — Margarita Bolaños and María Eugenia Bozzoli , Rural History

“This collection is important because its articles touch upon essential themes in modern Latin American history. Furthermore, the articles are both well-grounded in empirical research and theoretically and comparatively informed. This will be an important book for scholars for years to come. It certainly should be added to university reading lists.” — Michiel Baud , European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“This is an important volume in Latin American labour history, which makes a welcome disciplinary contribution with its emphasis on ethnicity within labour dynamics and class formation.” — British Bulletin of Publications

“This is an important volume. Its innovative essays focus on the diverse participation by working peoples in the modern histories of the nations of Central America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.” — John Tutino , American Historical Review

“This volume samples some of the best recent work in the Anglophone social history of ‘laboring people’ in modern (1850-1950) Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean. . . . [It] makes a strong, welcome contribution to the social history of the subaltern populations of the nations of the region, and should be on the syllabus of any graduate seminar in Latin American or International labor history.” — Mark Thurner , Journal of World History

“Unlike many traditional histories, the essays in this volume, which pull from recent trends in social and cultural history, explore the national histories from a paradigm that embraces the broadly defined popular classes as major actors. . . . This volume brings together emerging and well-known scholars to look at issues such as plantation justice in Guatemala, examining the United Fruit Company and the Tiquisate massacre; Nicaragua’s highland Indian population; the impact of foreign corporations in Costa Rica; coffee production in El Salvador; banana workers in Honduras; working-class feminism and sexuality in Puerto Rico; Cuba’s sugar industry; agrarian reform in the Dominican Republic; and possible paths for future research and historiography on Central America and the Caribbean.” — , Human Resources Abstracts

"[A]n important book. . . . [S]hould help provide a more coherent explanation for the recent revolutionary period in Central America and for subsequent developments in the Caribbean." — Peter Ross, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies

"[An] exciting collection of essays. . . . [O]pens up new territory for labor historians to find treasure, not through wrecking the older paradigms but putting them to new uses. . . . [A]ll the contributions show the marks of first-rate research . . ." — Julio Cèsar Pino , Journal of Third World Studies

“This collection gives us a much more nuanced view of labor in these regions than previously available. Using archives and oral history, the writers successfully break through the screen of elite-centered history into the world of the masses.” — David McCreery, Georgia State University

“This volume does an exceptional job of bringing together in a single volume very substantial new research on working people and their history in the Hispanic Caribbean Basin.” — Ralph Lee Woodward Jr., Tulane University


Brown in the Windy City, Lilia Fernandez

StephensEscritoBrown in the Windy City is the first history to examine the migration and settlement of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in postwar Chicago. Lilia Fernández reveals how the two populations arrived in Chicago in the midst of tremendous social and economic change and, in spite of declining industrial employment and massive urban renewal projects, managed to carve out a geographic and racial place in one of America’s great cities. Through their experiences in the city’s central neighborhoods over the course of these three decades, Fernández demonstrates how Mexicans and Puerto Ricans collectively articulated a distinct racial position in Chicago, one that was flexible and fluid, neither black nor white.


Escrito por mujeres II, Camilla Stephens

StephensEscritoCamilla Stephens: Magdalena Mondragón, Dolores Prida, Patricia Ariza y Susana Torres Molina dramatizan el papel de género y la identidad nacional en distintos países, momentos históricos y contextos socioculturales. El mundo perdido (México D.F., 1951) de Mondragón, Bótanica (Nueva York, 1991) de Prida, Luna menguante (Cali-Bogotá, 1994) de Ariza y Esa extraña forma de pasión (Buenos Aires, 2010) de Torres Molina presentan a la mujer frente a la cultura dominante en diversos escenarios dramáticos: el paraíso bíblico, un barrio latino de Nueva York, una casa familiar latinoamericana y Argentina durante y después de la "Guerra Sucia." Son obras que iluminan las tendencias feministas más destacadas de las Américas con relación a las filosofías de Simone de Beauvoir, Rosario Castellanos, Judith Butler, Gloria Anzaldúa y Francesca Gargallo. La Eva rebelde de Mondragón, la estudiante bilingüe/ bicultural de Prida, las amas de casa enajenadas de Ariza y la activista política de Torres Molina representan algunas de las identidades femeninas reinventadas por el teatro escrito por mujeres latinoamericanas desde 1951 hasta nuestros días.


Aquí and Allá, Camilla Stephens

Aquí and Allá: Transnational Dominican Theater and Performance, Camilla StevensAquí and Allá: Transnational Dominican Theater and Performance explores how contemporary Dominican theater and performance artists portray a sense of collective belonging shaped by the transnational connections between the homeland and the diaspora. Through close readings of plays and performances produced in the Dominican Republic and the United States in dialogue with theories of theater and performance, migration theory, and literary, cultural, and historical studies, this book situates theater and performance in debates on Dominican history and culture and the impact of migration on the changing character of national identity from end of the twentieth century to the present. By addressing local audiences of island-based and diasporic Dominicans with stories of characters who are shaped by both places, the theatrical performances analyzed in this book operate as a democratizing force on conceptions of Dominican identity and challenge assumptions about citizenship and national belonging. Likewise, the artists’ bi-national perspectives and work methods challenge the paradigms that have traditionally framed Latin(o) American theater studies.


Corrupt Capital, Kenneth Sebastian León

StephensEscritoCorrupt Capital: Alcohol, Nightlife, and Crimes of the Powerful offers a deep dive into the social, political, and economic forces that make white-collar crime and corruption a staple feature of the nightlife economy. The author, a former bouncer-turned-bartender of party bars and nightclubs in a large U.S. city, draws from an auto-ethnographic case study to describe and explain the routine and embedded nature of corruption and deviance among the regulators and the regulated in the nightlife environment.

Read more: Corrupt Capital, Kenneth Sebastian León

Skin Acts, Michelle Stephens

StephensSkinIn Skin Acts, Michelle Ann Stephens explores the work of four iconic twentieth-century black male performers—Bert Williams, Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte, and Bob Marley—to reveal how racial and sexual difference is both marked by and experienced in the skin. She situates each figure within his cultural moment, examining his performance in the context of contemporary race relations and visual regimes. Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis and performance theory, Stephens contends that while black skin is subject to what Frantz Fanon called the epidermalizing and hardening effects of the gaze, it is in the flesh that other—intersubjective, pre-discursive, and sensuous—forms of knowing take place between artist and audience. Analyzing a wide range of visual, musical, and textual sources, Stephens shows that black subjectivity and performativity are structured by the tension between skin and flesh, sight and touch, difference and sameness.



La descolonizacion y el giro des-colonial, Nelson Maldonado Torres


In 2011, the Universidad de la Tierra in Chiapas, México, collected some of Maldonado Torres’s essays on decolonial theory in this anthology. The essays included in this compilation deal with the current validity of decolonialization, and develop the idea of a decolonial turn. Maldonado Torres argues that the decolonial attitude as well as the reason are fundamental parts of what is here presented as decolonial turn, which proposes that decolonialization (and not modernity) is a project that is not yet accomplished on a global level.

Chinese Cubans, Kathleen Lopez

chinesecubansIn a comprehensive, vibrant history that draws deeply on Chinese- and Spanish-language sources in both China and Cuba, Kathleen López explores the transition of the Chinese from indentured to free migrants, the formation of transnational communities, and the eventual incorporation of the Chinese into the Cuban citizenry during the first half of the twentieth century. Chinese Cubans shows how Chinese migration, intermarriage, and assimilation are central to Cuban history and national identity during a key period of transition from slave to wage labor and from colony to nation. On a broader level, López draws out implications for issues of race, national identity, and transnational migration, especially along the Pacific rim.

To Rise in Darkness, Aldo Lauria-Santiago

LauriaSantiagoDarknessAldo Lauria-Santiago: To Rise in Darkness offers a new perspective on a defining moment in modern Central American history. In January 1932 thousands of indigenous and ladino (non-Indian) rural laborers, provoked by electoral fraud and the repression of strikes, rose up and took control of several municipalities in central and western El Salvador. Within days the military and civilian militias retook the towns and executed thousands of people, most of whom were indigenous. This event, known as la Matanza (the massacre), has received relatively little scholarly attention. In To Rise in Darkness, Jeffrey L. Gould and Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago investigate memories of the massacre and its long-term cultural and political consequences.

Gould conducted more than two hundred interviews with survivors of la Matanza and their descendants. He and Lauria-Santiago combine individual accounts with documentary sources from archives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Washington, London, and Moscow. They describe the political, economic, and cultural landscape of El Salvador during the 1920s and early 1930s, and offer a detailed narrative of the uprising and massacre. The authors challenge the prevailing idea that the Communist organizers of the uprising and the rural Indians who participated in it were two distinct groups. Gould and Lauria-Santiago demonstrate that many Communist militants were themselves rural Indians, some of whom had been union activists on the coffee plantations for several years prior to the rebellion. Moreover, by meticulously documenting local variations in class relations, ethnic identity, and political commitment, the authors show that those groups considered “Indian” in western El Salvador were far from homogeneous. The united revolutionary movement of January 1932 emerged out of significant cultural difference and conflict.


To Rise in Darkness . . . exemplifies methodological innovation in social research. It is important reading for scholars interested in the period in Central America and, more generally, in mestizaje and indigeneity. It also offers much for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in history, anthropology and cultural studies of Latin America, including methodologically. . . . For scholars and activists concerned with indigenous politics in El Salvador today, the book, which was released in Central America in Spanish shortly after its publication in English, offers new insights into a history that is central to contemporary activism.” — Brandt G. Peterson, Social History

To Rise in Darkness is a welcome addition to the literature on the 1920s and 1930s in El Salvador. The text skillfully summarizes and synthesizes the existing body of literature regarding la matanza, the massacre of ten thousand Salvadorans (predominantly indigenous peasants) in 1932, but it also adds fresh insights based on new evidence. . . . [B]ecause the authors very explicitly place the events of the 1920s and 1930s within the Central American context and contextualize the analysis within a solid theoretical framework, the text is valuable for graduate students working on political mobilization, ethnicity, and state violence, and it could also be useful for advanced undergraduates.” — Aldo V. García Guevara, History: Reviews of New Books

“In sum, To Rise in Darkness provides a multifaceted study that highlights the grassroots struggles of ladino and indigenous rural laboring classes in the late 1920s and 1930s as they articulated with leftist parties, an increasingly repressive state, and a dominant racist ideology among the country’s agricultural capitalist class. This extraordinary account of mass rebellion will be a major force in Latin American History and studies of revolution as well as a rich resource for students and scholars for years to come.” — Paul Almeida, Journal of World History

“Recommended.” — J.B. Kirkwood, Choice

“The depth of research and strength of argumentation of this work by Gould and Lauria is at the level with the importance of the subject.” — Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, The Americas

To Rise in Darkness contributes to a clearer understanding of a complex period of political, social, and cultural history, including how its contemporary interpretation reveals the dynamics of individual and social memory. . . . It will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience for its methodological and theoretical attention to discourse and ideology, symbolism and power, political agency and subjectivity, memory and identity.” — Robin DeLugan, EIAL

“[A] remarkable and thoroughly impressive volume. . . It rests upon scrupulous investigation of primary documentary evidence at local, regional, national and international levels. Indeed, Aldo Lauria-Santiago’s contribution goes far beyond primary responsibility for the writing for the sections of the volume on political economy; he has clearly played an important role in assisting the revival of the Salvadorean National Archive.” — James Dunkerley, Journal of Latin American Studies

“[T]he book, along with its accompanying film, are sure to spark animated and productive debates about the events and processes it analyzes with such care and eloquence. . . . [T]his finely wrought study makes a major contribution to understanding one of the most horrific and consequential episodes in the modern history of Latin America.” — Michael J. Schroeder, A Contracorriente

“Gould and Lauria-Santiago . . . have laid a groundwork (and set a high bar) for a new generation of scholars, from the North and South, working in related areas.” — Ellen Moodie, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

“This fine new book about the 1932 El Salvadoran massacre known as La Matanza. . .offers insights into a range of issues—agrarian history, ethnicity, the texture of historical discourse and memory, and the ways in which capitalist elites have acted to repress socialism. . . . Other works on the subject have barely tapped the available archival sources; Gould and Lauria-Santiago’s careful research allows them to challenge stereotypes and resolve many longstanding questions.” — Cindy Forster, American Historical Review

“This spectacularly detailed book will challenge important assumptions for scholars of Central America. It is also an excellent case study for students of mobilization and ethnicity. The authors explore questions that both of these literatures have been grappling with for some time. The authors weave together weighty ideas and rich data that succeeds in bringing insight to contentious politics.” — Louis Edgar Esparza, Mobilization

"Gould and Lauria-Santiago have, with To Rise in Darkness, written the definitive account of la matanza by detailing the agrarian mobilization that preceded it."  — Kirsten Weld, Latin American Research Review

To Rise in Darkness tells the story of the 1932 Communist-led uprising in El Salvador and the violent repression that followed, one of the most consequential events in Latin American history. As a prelude to the widespread terror that would sweep throughout Central America during the Cold War, this killing is beginning to receive scholarly attention, yet To Rise in Darkness will be the touchstone for future discussion of the 1932 revolt and massacre. Based on painstaking research and exhibiting a sharp conceptual focus, this book will influence scholarship on the relationship between political mobilization, ideology, and violence for years to come.” — Greg Grandin, author of The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation

To Rise in Darkness is a remarkable achievement. It completely transforms understanding of one of the most important political events in twentieth-century Central America.” — Lowell Gudmundson, Mount Holyoke College

Mexico's Revolutionary Avant-Gardes, Tatiana Flores

Mexico’s FloresMexicoAvantGardesRevolutionary Avant-Gardes provides a nuanced account of the early-20th-century moment that came to be known as the Mexican Renaissance, featuring an impressive range of artists and writers. Relying on extensive documentary research and previously unpublished archival materials, author Tatiana Flores expands the conventional history of Estridentismo by including its offshoot movement ¡30–30! and underscoring Mexico’s role in the broader development of modernism worldwide. Focusing on the interrelationship between art and literature, she illuminates the complexities of post-revolutionary Mexican art at a time when it was torn between formal innovation and social relevance.


Locked In, Locked Out, Zaire Dinzey-Flores

LockedInFloresIn Locked In, Locked Out, Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores shows how such gates operate as physical and symbolic ways to distribute power, reroute movement, sustain social inequalities, and cement boundary lines of class and race across the city. In its exploration of four communities in Ponce—two private subdivisions and two public housing projects—Locked In, Locked Out offers one of the first ethnographic accounts of gated communities devised by and for the poor. Dinzey-Flores traces the proliferation of gates on the island from Spanish colonial fortresses to the New Deal reform movement of the 1940s and 1950s, demonstrating how urban planning practices have historically contributed to the current trend of community divisions, shrinking public city spaces, and privatizing gardens. Through interviews and participant observation, she argues that gates have transformed the twenty-first-century city by fostering isolation and promoting segregation, ultimately shaping the life chances of people from all economic backgrounds. Relevant and engaging, Locked In, Locked Out reveals how built environments can create a cartography of disadvantage—affecting those on both sides of the wall.


Tacit Subjects, Carlos Decena

decena coverTacit Subjects is a pioneering analysis of how gay immigrant men of color negotiate race, sexuality, and power in their daily lives. Drawing on ethnographic research with Dominicans in New York City, Carlos Ulises Decena explains that while the men who shared their life stories with him may self-identify as gay, they are not the liberated figures of traditional gay migration narratives. Decena contends that in migrating to Washington Heights, a Dominican enclave in New York, these men moved from one site to another within an increasingly transnational Dominican society. Many of them migrated and survived through the resources of their families and broader communities. Explicit acknowledgment or discussion of their homosexuality might rupture these crucial social and familial bonds. Yet some of Decena’s informants were sure that their sexuality was tacitly understood by their family members or others close to them. Analyzing their recollections about migration, settlement, masculinity, sex, and return trips to the Dominican Republic, Decena describes how the men at the center of Tacit Subjects contest, reproduce, and reformulate Dominican identity in New York. Their stories reveal how differences in class, race, and education shape their relations with fellow Dominicans. They also offer a view of “gay New York” that foregrounds the struggles for respect, belonging, and survival within a particular immigrant community.


Lorrin Thomas - Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City

Thomas Puerto Rican CitizenLorrin Thomas:  Lorrin Thomas's Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City has just been published by the University of Chiccago Press. Building its incisive narrative from a wide range of archival sources, interviews, and first-person accounts of Puerto Rican life in New York, this book illuminates the rich history of a group that is still largely invisible to many scholars. At the center of Puerto Rican Citizen are Puerto Ricans' own formulations about political identity, the responses of activists and ordinary migrants to the failed promises of American citizenship, and their expectations of how the American state should address those failures. Complicating our understanding of the discontents of modern liberalism, of race relations beyond black and white, and of the diverse conceptions of rights and identity in American life, Thomas's book transforms the way we understand this community's integral role in shaping our sense of citizenship in twentieth-century America.

Mobile Selves, Ulla Berg

In this engBerg mobile selvesaging volume Ulla D. Berg examines the conditions under which racialized Peruvians of rural and working-class origins leave the central highlands of Peru to migrate to the United States, how they fare, and what constrains their movement and their attempts to maintain meaningful social relations across borders. By exploring the ways in which migration is mediated between the Peruvian Andes and the United States—by documents, money, and images and objects in circulation—this book makes a major contribution to the documentation and theorization of the role of technology in fostering new forms of migrant sociality and subjectivity. In its focus on the forms of sociality and belonging that these mediations enable, the volume adds to key anthropological debates about affect, subjectivity, and sociality in today’s mobile world. It also makes significant contributions to studies of inequality in Latin America, showcasing the intersection of transnational mobility with structures and processes of exclusion in both national and global contexts.