Professor Alan Knight

Professor of the History of Latin America (Faculty of History)

I came to Oxford in 1992, to become Professor of the History of Latin America, having previously taught at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Essex (UK). I thus returned to my alma mater, where I had been an undergraduate, graduate and postdoc - back in the days when women were rare, colleges were like fortresses, and we regularly conversed in Latin; which no doubt helped give me a headstart in Latin American history. For the latter, however, I am endebted to Fidel Castro, whose revolution alarmed and perplexed the then British government and induced them to provide modest support for UK Latin American studies, not least in the shape of several new Latin American centres, ours at Oxford, where I am based, being one of the oldest, best and most durable. So I teach history components in our two very active Masters degrees, as well as some Latin American undergraduate courses (to a select and discriminating few). For sins committed in a previous life, which I can't recall but which must have been bad, I have several times been Director of the LAC and/or Director of Graduate Studies. I am, perhaps, the institutional memory of the Centre (along with our estimable Secretary Mrs Elvira Ryan, who has been here even longer than me), which is unfortunate since my memory is increasingly defective. I work chiefly on modern Mexican history, having written a history of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) and two volumes of a proposed trilogy on Mexican history, from 'the beginning' up to Independence; vol. 3 (post-Independence), plus a monograph on Mexico in the 1930s, are in the pipeline; but it's a very long pipe. While I have no doubt of the supreme importance of Mexico - not just in Latin American but also in global terms: 'como México no hay dos', as they say - I also study and teach the history of other countries (Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina, etc.), and tackle comparative themes which pull in politics, sociology and economics (history being, in my view, a central pillar of social science, not a postmodern textual playground); these themes include revolutions, populism, peasant movements, and democracy. I also maintain an interest in - and have written on - US-Latin American and Euro-Latin American relations (thus, imperialism, nationalism and dependency. Dependency! Now there's a conceptual throwback to the good old days . . ). I will likely retire in 2013.

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Telephone: +44 (0)1865 274490