Office Location: Erindale Hall Residence, 1525 Outer Circle, Room 211B
Kevin Coleman is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in the history of US-Latin American encounters and visual culture. His recent articles and book chapters examine the intersection between photography, neocolonialism, labour history, and theorizing ways to read political subjectivities through visual archives.
In his first book, A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic, he argues that the “banana republic” was an imperial constellation of images and practices that was locally checked and contested by the people of the Honduran town of El Progreso, where the United Fruit Company had one of its main divisional offices. As banana plantation workers, women, and peasants posed for pictures and, more emblematically, as they staged the General Strike of 1954, they forged new ways of being while also visually asserting their rights as citizens.
Similar issues animate his teaching. Coleman offers surveys of Latin American history and advanced undergraduate seminars organized around a variety of themes, including the development of popular political cultures and nation-state formation, religion and the region’s encounter with the United States. His graduate offerings examine the role that photography and other visual technologies have played in shaping understandings of self, nation, and race in several national and transnational contexts.
Coleman’s research and teaching interests derive in part from the years that he spent working alongside people who were trying to get some good things done in their communities. Before pursuing graduate studies, he taught introductory philosophy classes at Navajo Community College in New Mexico. He then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Honduras, living and working with campesinos and developing friendships that continue to this day. The years that he spent with his sleeves rolled up continue to inform his research and teaching.
- A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic. (University of Texas Press: 2016)
- PhD, Indiana University