Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies


Faculty Spotlight

Forrest ColburnDr. Forrest D. Colburn, Professor in Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, writes on Latin American politics, and, more generally, the poorer countries of the world and their efforts to achieve political and economic parity with the wealthier countries. He has a particular interest in the influence of ideas in shaping political behavior.

Professor Colburn’s books include The Vogue of Revolution in Poor Countries (Princeton University Press, 1994) and Latin America at the End of Politics (Princeton University Press, 2002). Professor Colburn began his academic career with studies of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. A collection of his essays (many originally published in periodicals) on the Revolution is in its eighth printing: My Car in Managua (and there are two Spanish-language printings as well). Professor Colburn continues to study the evolution of Nicaragua and the other small countries of Central America. With a Nicaraguan colleague, Arturo Cruz, Colburn wrote Varieties of Liberalism in Central America: Nation-States as Works in Progress (University of Texas Press, 2007). They also contributed an essay on the recent elections in Nicaragua to the spring 2012 issue of the Journal of Democracy: “Personalism and Populism in Nicaragua.”

Professor Colburn is presently working on a book-length manuscript about the evolution of what used to be known as the “Third World”—the poorer countries of the world, found in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Post World War II perceptions of solidarity among these countries have faded, and so has optimism about the political ability to guide “development.” The poorer countries of the world have had—over the last half of a century--uneven success in achieving political stability and economic growth, which has been difficult to explain, all the more so since reigning political paradigms have withered. The working title of Professor Colburn’s study is “The Shattered Compass of Poor Countries.”

Professor Colburn is also a member of the Department of Political Science of the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He previously taught at Princeton University. He has returned to Princeton University as a visiting professor and was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton during the 2006/2007 academic year. Professor Colburn has also been a visiting professor at Addis Ababa University (in Ethiopia) and New York University (NYU). He has also long been associated with Latin America’s premier management school, INCAE (which has its central campus in Costa Rica). For INCAE, Professor Colburn has lectured widely in Latin America, including most recently in Peru.

Dr. David A. Badillo, Associate Professor in Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, writes on U.S. Latino history; his teaching interests also include Mexican migration, Puerto Rican history, and Caribbean music. He has published Latinos and the New Immigrant Church (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) as well as more than fifteen journal articles and chapters in edited volumes on themes encompassing religion, urbanization, and civil rights. During the Spring 2012 semester he will present three conference papers on his current book project, “In the Shadow of the Courts,” which focuses on legal advocacy and landmark court cases dealing with Mexican-American education, voting, immigration, and alienages. The venues are “Siglo XXI: Forging the Future of Latinos in a Time of Crisis,” a biennial conference event sponsored by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR)—in New York City, February 23-25; a symposium of the Commission for the Study of the History of the Church in Latin America (CEHILA, USA)—at the University of Notre Dame in late April; and the annual meeting of the Law and Society Association (LSA)—early June in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later that month, as a visiting faculty member of the Hispanic Summer Program, he will teach a graduate course at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
On Dec. 7, 2011, Prof. David Badillo interviewed Dr. Sylvia Méndez at Hunter College, CUNY, (sponsored by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños): Click on link to access the video: A Conversation with Sylvia Méndez.

Faculty ProfilesDr. Laird W. Bergad, whose landmark research on slave-based plantation societies has broadened historical understanding of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil, has been named a Distinguished Professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College. He becomes the seventh current member of the Lehman faculty to hold this rank, which honors a small group of scholars and artists who have attained the highest levels of achievement within their fields. His appointment was approved on June 22, 2009 by the CUNY Board of Trustees.
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LevyDr. Teresita Levy, an Assistant Professor in LAPRS, earned her Ph.D. in History in 2007 from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her dissertation, titled “The History of Tobacco Cultivation in Puerto Rico, 1899-1940,” explored the socioeconomic changes in the tobacco-producing highland regions of Puerto Rico after the American occupation of 1898. She is currently working on a book based on this research. She teaches courses on the history of Puerto Rico and the history of the Dominican Republic.
Professor Levy attended an international workshop this past summer in Amsterdam, where her work on farmers’ organizations was discussed. The result of that workshop, “Tobacco Growers and Resistance to American Domination in Puerto Rico,” was recently published on the Commodities of Empire website (Click here to read the paper).
In 2009, Professor Levy presented new research at the 3er Congreso Internacional Música, Identidad y Cultura en el Caribe at the Centro León in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Her presentation argued that two versions of the classic Puerto Rican bolero “En mi viejo San Juan” represent two distinct moments for the Puerto Rican community in New York: the mass migration of the 1950’s from the island to the mainland and the New Yorican community that came of age during the 1970’s. The resulting article, “En mi Viejo Nueva York: El bolero como documento histórico de la diáspora puertorriqueña,” was recently published in El bolero en la cultura caribeña y su proyección universal, edited by Darío Tejeda and Rafael Emilio Yunén (Santiago, Dominican Republic: Instituto de Estudios Caribeños, 2010).

Last modified: Oct 7, 2013

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