Teaching Interests

At Amherst, I enjoy teaching courses that help students to see Latin America in new ways. I teach an introductory course that concentrates on ways the Latin American masses have struggled for democracy since the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century through today. In a class on US Latinos, students learn about the unique histories of the different ethnic groups that are often lumped together under the categories of Latino or Hispanic. We trace the ways each group has struggled for "the right to have rights" within the United States and the ways individuals have embraced or shunned such broad ethnic categories as "Mexican American" or "Latino." In a research seminar on Race and Nation in the US-Mexican Borderland, students read historical studies from both Mexican and US perspectives. Most of all, they learn to use the wealth of original documents available to reach their own understanding of the role of race and nation in this contested space where people and governments have long struggled over the meanings of ethnicity, race, and national identity. Another research seminar I teach focuses on indigenous people in Latin America. In this course, students consider the ways indigenous peoples' place within empires, nation, and even within the very idea of "humanity" has changed dramatically over time, and how, with these changes, the political and economic opportunities for indigenous people, too, have changed. In my course called Environmental History of Latin America students learn about the interconnection in Latin America between human conflicts (civil wars, imperialist domination, poverty, and so forth) and environmental transformations. Through these and other courses, I urge students to push past the limits of presumptions and pre-conceived categories and, instead, to use historical evidence to figure out for themselves the relationships between particular groups, nations, ethnicities, and environments; how these relationships shape human experience and political and economic structures; and how these relationships have changed over time.