My book project, Isles of Noise: Sonic Media in the Caribbean records the unwritten histories of radio and related sonic technologies in the early twentieth century. The book argues that communications media was not a tool of empire in the early 20th century Caribbean as much as it was generated in the space between empires. It elucidates the configurations of power that determined the delivery of information, shaping the social and political lives of Caribbean people in significant ways. It also contributes new narratives to the intersecting fields of sound studies and histories of science and empire. In particular, my analysis makes violence central to the process of the translation of technology, and will challenge scholarship that has bypassed its role in the making of the aural past. My previous work has centred on the histories of social science and race in Cuba. In addition, I have published a recent history of the Caribbean with a particular focus on the circulation of goods, information, and people. My interest in sound and technology grows out of these, but it also opens new avenues of inquiry for historians of the Caribbean, who have thus far neglected the histories of media and sonic technologies.
Sources that range from scholarly texts to tourist brochures tend to imagine the Caribbean as a "place without history" or a "place out of time." Indeed, the notion of "getting away from it all" lures countless visitors, while the region's purportedly elusive modernity informs a variety of research agendas. This imagining of the Caribbean as somehow out of time has generated a number of variations on the theme, such as visions of Haiti as...
In the years following Cuba's independence, nationalists aimed to transcend racial categories in order to create a unified polity, yet racial and cultural heterogeneity posed continual challenges to these liberal notions of citizenship. Alejandra Bronfman traces the formation of Cuba's multiracial legal and political order in the early Republic by exploring the responses of social scientists, such as...
A comparative analysis of the institution of chattel slavery, its growth, its effects on slaves and masters, its relation to the larger society, and the causes of its decline, in the various cultures of the Americas.
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I teach courses in Latin American and Caribbean History, as well as on cultural histories of the media and of the archive.
I received my BA in History at Cornell University in 1994 , and my PhD. in History at Princeton University in 2000. Before coming to UBC, I was Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and Yale University. I conduct research and write on the cultural history of the Caribbean in the 20th century.