History Department
History Department

Latin American Historians cultivate prestigious program, celebrate top ranking in U.S. News & World Report

Tue, May 7, 2013
Latin American Historians cultivate prestigious program, celebrate top ranking in U.S. News & World Report
Back row: Profs. Brown, Butler, Garfield, Garrard-Burnett, Canizares-Esguerra, and Guridy. Front row: Profs. Del Castillo, Deans-Smith, and Twinam. Photo by Tamir Kalifa.

The Department of History is pleased to announce that it has once again been ranked as the top graduate program in Latin American History by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings for 2014 are based on data gathered by surveying university deans, program directors, and senior faculty in the field. These academics were asked to judge and rank the academic quality of specialized programs, such as Latin American History. UT History itself has ranked in the top twenty for graduate programs in History, but Latin American History has long been one of our strengths, as demonstrated by this first place ranking.

In response to news of the Latin American history program’s first-place ranking, Seth W. Garfield, Associate Professor of Latin American History, remarked, “Such professional accolades not only pay tribute to the fine work of the Latin Americanist faculty, but are a badge of distinction for the entire history department.”  Susan Deans-Smith, Associate Professor of Latin American History, commented that, “this ranking represents a clear acknowledgement of the incomparable quality of our resources such as the Benson Latin American Collection and faculty as well as the exceptional students that our program attracts, and who, in turn, go on to become influential scholars in their own right.”

Currently, the department has nine faculty members who specialize in Latin American History:

Jonathan C. Brown (Ph.D., University of Texas, 1976) is a Professor of Modern Latin American History.  He has written two books on Argentina, A Socioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860 (1979) and A Brief History of Argentina (2nd ed., 2009) as well as one on Mexico, Oil and Revolution in Mexico (1993), and a colonial history textbook entitled Latin America: A Social History of the Colonial Period (2nd ed., 2005).

Matthew J. Butler
(Ph.D., University of Bristol, 2000) is an Associate Professor of Modern Mexican History and author of Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion (Oxford, 2004, forthcoming in Spanish translation with El Colegio de Michoacán, 2013) as well as the editor of Faith and Impiety in Revolutionary Mexico (New York, 2007) and coeditor of Mexico in Transition: New Perspectives on Mexican Agrarian History, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (forthcoming, 2013).

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1995) is the Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History.  He has written several books: How to Write the History of the New World (Stanford 2001--translated into Spanish and Portuguese); Puritan Conquistadors (Stanford 2006; translated into Spanish); Nature, Empire, and Nation (Stanford 2007); The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000 (co-edited, with Erik Seeman), and The Black Urban Atlantic in the Age of the Slave Trade (co-edited with Jim Sidbury and Matt Childs). He is currently writing a book entitled "Bible and Empire: The Old Testament in the Spanish Monarchy, from Columbus to the Wars of Independence."

Susan Deans-Smith (Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1984) is an 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; (Spanish translation forthcoming with the Universidad Veracruzana), co-editor of Mexican Soundings. Essays in Honor of D. A. Brading (2007) with Eric Van Young, and co-editor of Race and Classification: The Case of Mexican America (Stanford, 2009) with Ilona Katzew. 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)."

Lina Del Castillo (Ph.D. University of Miami, 2007) is an Assistant Professor of modern Colombian History. Her work focuses on the intersections between cartography, contested claims to land and resources, and the formation of the Colombian nation-state during the first half of the nineteenth century.


Seth Garfield (Ph.D., Yale University, 1996) is an Associate Professor of Brazilian History and Undergraduate Faculty Adviser at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.  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), which has also been published in Brazil in Portuguese. His book, In Search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States, and the Nature of a Region, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Virginia Garrard-Burnett (Ph.D., Tulane University, 1986) is a Professor of Central American History and the Associate Chair of the History dept. She works on religion in Latin America and is the author of Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala Under General Efraín Ríos Montt, 1982-1983 (Oxford, 2010), which will be published in Spanish by AVANSCO in May, 2013; Viviendo en La Nueva Jerusalem (Guatemala: Editorial Piedra Santa, 2009), Protestantism in Guatemala: Living in the New Jerusalem (University of Texas Press, 1998) as well as the editor of On Earth as it is in Heaven: Religion and Society in Latin America (Scholarly Resources, 2000) and co-editor (with David Stoll) of Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America (Temple, 1993). Currently, she and Paul Freston are co-editing the Cambridge History of Religion in Latin America.

Frank Guridy (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2002) is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies. He is the author of Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) and the co-editor of Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latino/a America (NYU Press, 2010).

Ann Twinam (Ph.D., Yale University, 1976) is a Professor of Colonial Latin American History. Her monographs include Miners, Merchants and Farmers in Colonial Colombia (University of Texas Press, 1982) and Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor and Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford University Press, 2000).  This year she received the University of Texas Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award.

The research of Latin Americanist faculty has been recognized with numerous nationally competitive fellowships, as well as book awards including the Murdo MacLeod Book Prize, the John Edwin Fagg Book Prize, the Robert W. Hamilton Prize, the Herbert Eugene Bolton Memorial Prize, the Elsa Gouveia Book Prize, the Wesley-Logan Book Prize, and the Thomas F. McGann Book Prize.

Current graduate students in the department were not surprised that UT has continued to hold its place as the top-ranked program in Latin American history. Felipe Cruz, a fifth-year student and one of the co-founders of The Appendix, a new journal of narrative and experimental history, noted that the diverse faculty in Latin American history “affords us opportunities to work with professors from varied backgrounds and specialties.” In addition, “having a top-ranked institute of Latin American Studies nearby means that we also get to collaborate with a bright cohort of grad students concerned with more contemporary issues, which can be very enlightening to a historian, and creates a collaborative, productive tension.”  Maria José Afanador-Llach, another fifth-year student from Colombia commented that she decided to come to the United States to study Colombian history because: “I wanted to challenge my Colombia-centric history background, and the UT history department offered me the ways to do so. I had the chance not only to take courses about Latin America with people from different backgrounds, but also about Atlantic history, imperialism, early modern European history, and the history of science, among others. This is to say, that the Latin American history program is great also because the rest of the department is great too.”

The program in Latin American history has attracted students from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and 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, John Carter Brown Library, Ford Foundation, and the Smithsonian.  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 monographs.  Commenting on the ranking by U.S. News and World Report, Pablo Piccato (Ph.D, UT Austin, 1997), Professor of Latin American history at Columbia University, commented: “Studying at UT Austin was absolutely central for my career. The seminars in Garrison Hall and the work at the Nettie Lee Benson Library not only shaped my ideas and methods as a historian of Mexico but also my understanding of the values of scholarship as a full commitment to research, teaching, and public engagement. I hope to make that legacy a central component of my role as a teacher.”

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