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Dr. Ryan Alexander

Associate Professor of History

Ryan AlexanderMy first foray into Latin America occurred during a study abroad semester in Cuba. The island, a place that generates so much controversy, was full of surprises. My time there widened my perspective and opened my eyes to the overwhelming complexity of issues that often seem simple and one-sided. I try to provide my students with a forum for similar types of intellectual discovery. In graduate school, I moved to studying Mexico, a country that has a rich history and remains vitally important to U.S. culture and political discourse today. My biggest goal as a teacher is to provide my students something useful to their intellectual development. While anyone can memorize names and dates, I believe that history can do much more when students engage it fully. I want my classes to spark students’ curiosity and make them more critical thinkers and better communicators.

My research interests are eclectic. My first book project examines generational change within Mexico’s authoritarian political system during the twentieth century, while my current research looks at disease epidemics during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920. In addition, I have written articles on topics ranging from political violence to popular memory to circus culture. All of my past and current projects revolve around biographical subjects. What the very different individuals I study all have in common is that each can provide a portal on a given historical context. Starting with such interesting personalities makes researching and writing history fun, and ultimately their lives unlock some of the big questions that historians confront.


  • Ph.D. University of Arizona, Latin American History (2011)
  • M.A. University of Arizona, Latin American History (2007)
  • B.A. Willamette University, History (2005)

Teaching Areas

  • Colonial and Modern Latin America
  • Comparative Latin American Revolutions and Social Movements
  • Mexico
  • Comparative Atlantic Slavery

Research Areas

  • The Mexican Revolution
  • Latin American Political History
  • U.S.–Latin American Relations
  • Popular Culture
  • History of Medicine

Recent Publications

  • Sons of the Mexican Revolution: Miguel Alemán and his Generation (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016).
  • “Mexican Politics, Economy, and Society, 1946-1982,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, ed. William H. Beezley, 1–29 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • “Mexico’s ‘Misnomered Bear Woman’: Science and Spectacle in the Sideshows of Nineteenth-Century Europe,” The Journal of Popular Culture (Spring, 2012).
  • “Backwater Bureaucrat to Revolutionary Myth-Maker: Bernardo M. de León and Cultural Politics in Nayarit, Mexico, 1920–1990,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos (Winter, 2011).
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