History Department
History Department

Latin American History Program Ranked #1 by US News & World Report

Wed, March 7, 2018
Latin American History Program Ranked #1 by US News & World Report
Latin American History Faculty. Credit: Brian Birzer.

Story by Shery Chanis, Ph.D. Candidate, UT History Dept.

The Department of History is pleased to announce that the U.S. News & World Report has once again ranked its Latin American History program as the top graduate program in the nation.

The rankings for 2018 are based on data gathered by surveying university deans, program directors, and senior faculty in the field. They rank the academic quality of specialized programs including Latin American History. UT History itself has ranked in the top twenty for graduate programs, but Latin American History has consistently been one of our strengths, as demonstrated by this first place ranking.

Jacqueline Jones, Department Chair, is “delighted to congratulate my Latin Americanist colleagues for maintaining their #1 ranking as the best graduate program in the field of Latin American history in the United States. These distinguished historians are producing cutting-edge scholarship and attracting some of the nation’s very best graduate students to the History program here at the University of Texas at Austin. This impressive ranking reminds us that the resources here at UT for studying Latin American history are extraordinarily rich and unparalleled—in particular the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection in partnership with the Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS).

"The Department of History is proud to be able to offer both our undergraduates and graduate students a first-rate education in the field of Latin American History," Jones continued. "Kudos to my Latin Americanist colleagues—ground-breaking scholars and outstanding teachers who consistently receive this highly sought-after recognition from their peers!”

Susan Deans-Smith, Associate Professor, remarked that “our ranking as the leading graduate program in Latin American history is a recognition of the extraordinary range of our faculty's expertise as well as the equally extraordinary resources for research in the field at UT Austin such as the internationally acclaimed Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Blanton Museum of Art.”

The research of Latin Americanist faculty has been recognized with numerous nationally competitive fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council/American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust. Book awards include the Albert J. Beveridge Award, the Bolton-Johnson Memorial Prize, the Bryce Wood Book Award, the Wesley-Logan Book Prize, the Thomas F. McGann Book Prize, the Ligia Parra Jahn Award, and the Bandelier/Lavrin Book Prize, the Murdo MacLeod Book Prize, the John Edwin Fagg Book Prize, and the Robert W. Hamilton Prize. Currently, the department has nine faculty members who specialize in Latin American History:

brownJonathan C. Brown (Ph.D., University of Texas, 1976) is Professor of Modern Latin American History. He has written two books on Argentina, A Socioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860 (Cambridge, 1979) and A Brief History of Argentina (second edition, Checkmark Books, 2011) as well as one on Mexico, Oil and Revolution in Mexico (California, 1993). He has also written a colonial history textbook entitled Latin America: A Social History of the Colonial Period (second edition, Wadsworth, 2005). His latest book, Cuba's Revolutionary World, was published by Harvard University Press in 2017.

butlerMatthew J. Butler (Ph.D., University of Bristol, 2000) is Associate Professor of Modern Mexican History and author of Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion (Oxford, 2004). In addition, he is the editor of Faith and Impiety in Revolutionary Mexico (New York, 2007) and co-editor of Mexico in Transition: New Perspectives on Mexican Agrarian History, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (CIESAS, 2013). 

canizares-esguerraJorge Cañizares-Esguerra (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1995) is the Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History. He has written How to Write the History of the New World (Stanford, 2001); Puritan Conquistadors (Stanford, 2006); and Nature, Empire, and Nation (Stanford, 2007). He has also edited or co-edited a number of works, including The Black Urban Atlantic in the Age of the Slave Trade (Pennsylvania, 2013); The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History (2015); As Américas na Primeira Modernidade (1492 - 1750) (Editora Prismas, 2017); The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000 (second edition, Routledge, 2018) and Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830 (Pennsylvania, 2018). He is currently writing a book entitled "Bible and Empire: The Old Testament in the Spanish Monarchy, from Columbus to the Wars of Independence.”

deans-smithSusan Deans-Smith (Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1984) is Associate Professor of Colonial Latin America. She is the author of Bureaucrats, Planters, and Workers - the Making of the Tobacco Monopoly in Bourbon Mexico (University of Texas Press, 1992) and co-editor of Mexican Soundings. Essays in Honor of D. A. Brading (Brookings Institute Press, 2007) and Race and Classification: The Case of Mexican America (Stanford, 2009). She is currently completing a book entitled "Matters of Taste: The Politics of Culture in Mexico and The Royal Academy of San Carlos (1781-1821).” 

del-castilloLina Del Castillo (Ph.D. University of Miami, 2007) is Assistant Professor of Modern Colombian History. Her book, Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia, is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press in June 2018.

jfs-photoJoshua Frens-String (Ph.D. New York University, 2015) joined UT History in fall 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Modern Latin America. His project, "Hungry for Revolution: Food, Land, and Labor in the Making of Modern Chile" examines the role of food politics and policy in the rise and fall of Chile's Popular Unity revolution (1970-73) and their historical roots in the country's mid-twentieth century developmental welfare state. Follow his work on Twitter at @jf_string.

garfieldSeth Garfield (Ph.D., Yale University, 1996) is Professor of Brazilian History. He is the author of Indigenous Struggle at the Heart of Brazil: State Policy, Frontier Expansion, and the Xavante Indians, 1937-1988 (Duke University Press, 2001); and In Search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States, and the Nature of a Region, published in 2013, also by Duke University Press.

garrardVirginia Garrard (Ph.D., Tulane University, 1986) is Professor of Central American History and Director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. She is the author of Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala Under General Efraín Ríos Montt, 1982-1983 (Oxford, 2010), and Protestantism in Guatemala: Living in the New Jerusalem (Univ. of Texas Press, 1998). In addition, she is the editor of On Earth as it is in Heaven: Religion and Society in Latin America (Scholarly Resources, 2000) and co-editor of Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America (Temple, 1993) and the Cambridge History of Religions in Latin America (2016). In 2018, she co-authored a textbook entitled Latin America in the Modern World (Oxford).

twinamAnn Twinam (Ph.D., Yale University, 1976) is Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History and Professor of Colonial Latin American History. Her monographs include Miners, Merchants and Farmers in Colonial Colombia (University of Texas Press, 1982), Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor and Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford, 2000), and Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattoes and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies (Stanford, 2015).

According to Deans-Smith, the combination of faculty expertise and resources “provide(s) a unique and innovative learning and research environment for our outstanding graduate students.” Indeed, the graduate program in Latin American history has attracted students from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.

Current graduate students in the department are not surprised that UT continues to hold its place as the top-ranked program in Latin American History. Christina Villarreal, doctoral candidate, remarks that the ranking “played a large role in my decision to attend the university four and a half years ago. I saw it as an indicator of the program's promise to offer me excellent training as a researcher and writer. I am encouraged by its continued top ranking.” She further states that her research has benefitted from such libraries and archives as the Benson Latin American Collection as well as the faculty, echoing Jones’ and Deans-Smith’s remarks on Latin Americanist faculty expertise and resources at the University of Texas.

Graduate students engage in the full spectrum of professional development. Their dissertation research has been supported by fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays, Mellon Foundation, Harrington, American Council of Learned Societies, Huntington Library, Max Planck Institute, McNeil Fellowships, National Science Foundation, John Carter Brown Library, Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian, and the Leverhulme Trust. Graduates from the Latin American program teach at colleges and universities throughout the United States, as well as in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico, and have jointly published dozens of journal articles and monographs.

Reflecting on her experiences in the program, recent Ph.D. graduate Lizeth Elizondo (2017) commented that “the access to the Benson and the outstanding faculty were definitely the driving forces of my research. I was able to start conducting archival research right away which made the process that much more rewarding. She was delighted to “have had the opportunity to work with such brilliant minds” in “an amazing environment that fosters learning, mentorship and top-notch scholarship.”


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