I am an Assistant Professor at Princeton University, where I teach modern Latin American and Caribbean history. I am broadly interested in the interaction between conflict, peace, and society. My research aims to recover the stories of how people in the region experienced and made sense of three key problems in contemporary history: violence, development (particularly inequality), and impunity. I am the author of Forgotten Peace: Reform, Violence, and the Making of Contemporary Colombia (translated into Spanish as La paz olvidada: Letrados, políticos, campesinos y el surgimiento de las FARC en la formación de la Colombia contemporánea).

I hold an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. At Princeton, I am a Faculty Associate at the Program in Latin American Studies and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and am also involved with the Center for Digital Humanities. I have received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Fulbright Colombia, the Eisenhower and Johnson presidential libraries, and Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Soy historiador de los siglo XIX y XX en América Latina. Actualmente soy Profesor Asistente en Princeton University. He sido becario de reconocidas entidades en Estados Unidos y Colombia, entre ellas Fulbright Colombia. Además de La paz olvidada: Letrados, políticos, campesinos y el surgimiento de las FARC en la formación de la Colombia contemporánea, he publicado varios artículos sobre política, violencia, relaciones interamericanas y desarrollo.

My research seeks to challenge traditional scalar and chronological frameworks, as well as to uncover the origins of the categories with which we think about the twentieth century. My work on Colombia relies on traditional methods from political and social history, as well as approaches from spatial history. I am broadly interested in using digital history to advance both analysis and narrative.

My book Forgotten Peace (University of California Press, 2017) examines how Colombians grappled with “violence” as an intellectual and a practical problem during a nearly decade-long process of democratization and social reform. Eventual disillusionment with these reformist experiments in the 1960s generated key components of the reputation for violence that would define Colombia over the remainder of the century: the formation of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and the concept of "La Violencia." In building peace while contemplating violence, rural and urban Colombians arrived at new representations of their regions in the nation and their nation in the world. By highlighting the lived experience of politics and development in post-1945 Colombia, Forgotten Peace presents a sweeping reinterpretation of both the origins of the FARC and the dominant place of “violence” in modern Latin America. The book additionally provides a Colombian vantage on global processes of democratic transition, development, and memory formation in the 1950s and ‘60s. 

Forgotten Peace is also a spatial history project, mapping patterns of violence and political change. Click here for interactive digital versions of two of the book's nine maps.

My other recent publications include "Reading the Cuban Revolution from Bogotá, 1957-62," published in the journal Cold War History. I have also written on Colombian politics at the Monkey Cage blog and NACLA.

Interactive Maps for Forgotten Peace: Reform, Violence, and the Making of Contemporary Colombia

Forgotten Peace follows Colombian political leaders, intellectuals, and rural peoples over the course of a decade as they interacted across different scales and spaces on the question of violence. Spatial history fundamentally informed my approach to the book; compiling data on violence and displacement allowed me to identify key patterns, locations, and actors, many of which figure centrally in the narrative. In order to better convey these patterns, and to link to primary sources on the events, I have created interactive digital versions of two of Forgotten Peace's nine maps. With the help of programming assistants, I have created several versions of these maps, out of a conviction that different stories may be better told through a variety of interfaces. Please share your impressions and ideas for how we can further improve these maps and strengthen the practice of spatial history in Latin American historiography.

Map 6: Monthly homicides attributed to partisan violence, Tolima, 1958 (p. 73 in the print edition).

Map 9: Roadway attacks, 1962 (p. 156 in the print edition). The most immersive version exists as an Esri Story Map, but there also a basic version with a timeline slider (built using D3), as well as a less dynamic version that includes terrain data (built using Mapbox).

Cub_La paz Olvidada Trimmed.jpg

La paz olvidada

Mi libro Forgotten Peace fue traducido y publicado en 2018 por Ediciones Lerner (Bogotá) bajo el título La paz olvidada: Políticos, letrados, campesinos y el surgimiento de las FARC en la formación de la Colombia contemporáneaLa paz olvidada es el relato de los años de esperanza que vinieron después de la transición democrática de 1957–58. En el libro se ponen en entredicho preceptos aparentemente inamovibles de la historiografía nacional, al tiempo que se nos recuerda que el balance entre expectativa y paciencia es el gran reto de los gobernantes, y que una política de paz sin dicho balance puede llevar al surgimiento de nuevas violencias, lo que ocurrió a partir de 1966 con el nacimiento de las FARC. 

Hay dos mapas interactivas que acompañan el libro: 

Mapa 5: Homicidios mensuales atribuidos a la violencia partidista, Tolima, 1958 (p. 90 en la edición impresa).

Mapa 8: Ataques en las carreteras, 1962 (p. 221 en la edición impresa, donde el mapa falta un dato).

 

El lanzamiento de La paz olvidada tuvo lugar en el mes de mayo de 2018 en la Librería Lerner, como parte del festival Nuevas Historias de Colombia. Se puede ver mi conversación con la politóloga Sandra Borda acá. También se puede leer una entrevista sobre el libro que hizo la historiadora Lina Britto conmigo para El Espectador.