Dr Thom Rath

Thomas Rath was an undergraduate at UCL History, did an MPhil in Latin American Studies at Oxford, and then went to Columbia for a PhD. 

Thom specializes in modern Latin American history, and is interested in how governments govern people, places, nature, and the past. His research explores how high and low politics interact, and aims to highlight Latin America's connections to big global processes. His first book was about the military and Mexico's postrevolutionary state, and explored violence, popular protest, and memory. His second book is The Dread Plague and the Cow Killers: The Politics of Animal Disease in Mexico and the World (Cambridge University Press, 2022). It tells the story of a massive outbreak of animal disease in the early Cold War, the joint US-Mexico campaign against it, and how it reshaped Mexican politics, society, science and the wider world. Thom continues to work on traditions of military policing in Mexico, and is developing further research on animals and projects of development and modernization in Latin America and beyond. 

In 2019-2023 he sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Latin American Studies.

PhD supervision

Thom welcomes applications from students whose research overlaps with his thematic interests.

Major publications

  • Rath, T. The Dread Plague and the Cow Killers: The Politics of Animal Disease in Mexico and the World (forthcoming, CUP)
  • Rath, T. (2020) 'Burning the Archive, Building the State? Politics, Paper, and US Power in Postwar Mexico', Journal of Contemporary History.
  • Rath, T. (2020). 'A Tale of Four Laboratories: Politics, Science and Animal Disease in Cold War Latin America'. In A. Chastain, T. Lorek (Eds.), Itineraries of Expertise: Science, Technology, and the Environment in Latin America’s Long Cold War. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • Rath, T. (2018) 'Modernizing Military Patriarchy: Gender and State Building in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920-1960', Journal of Social History, Volume 52, Issue 3, Spring 2019, 807–830.
  • Rath, T. (2014) 'Camouflaging the state: the army and the limits of hegemony in priísta Mexico, 1940-1960'. In: Gillingham, P. and Smith, B.T. (eds) Dictablanda: Politics, Work and Culture in Mexico, 1938-1968 (pp.89-107). Raleigh: Duke University Press.
  • Rath, T. (2013) Myths of Demilitarization in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920-1960. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Rath, T (2012) 'Revolutionary citizenship against institutional intertia: cardenismo and the Mexican army, 1934-40'. In: Fallaw, B. and Rugeley, T. (eds) Forced marches: Soldiers and military caciques in modern Mexico (pp.172-209). Tuscon: University of Arizona Press

For a full list of publications, see Thom's Iris profile.


Thom's project on animal disease has received support from the Wellcome Trust. 

Media appearances

Thom has contributed commentary to the BBC World Service, Sky News, Berfrois magazine and the Financial Times, among other outlets.


  • History, Memory, Democracy: Politics and the Past in Modern Latin America (second-year thematic module)
  • Foreigners and Revolutionary Mexico c.1910-1940 (second-year research seminar)
  • Animals and Modernity, 1750-present (MA module)
  • The Perfect Dictatorship? State and Society in Mexico, c.1940-1982 (special subject)
  • History of Latin America, c.1830-1930 (first- and second-year survey course)