Dr Thom Rath

Thomas Rath was an undergraduate at UCL History, then went to Oxford for their MPhil in Latin American Studies, and after that to Columbia for a PhD. Thom joined UCL in 2012, after holding a Visiting Fellowship at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Hamilton College in New York.

Thom is interested in how political authority and legitimacy have been made and unmade in Latin America. His research focuses on state and nation building in modern Mexico, with forays into related themes. His first book used the history of the military after the Mexican Revolution to explore national and regional politics, violence, gender, and debates about citizenship and history. He is currently writing a monograph about a massive outbreak of animal disease in Mexico in the early Cold War, and how it transformed the Mexican state's relationship with the countryside, science, and the international context. Thom is also working on a study of militarization in Mexico since the 1960s, both as a political and institutional process and as a concept shaping public debates about democracy and contemporary history.

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, particularly those focused on Mexico.

Major publications

  • Rath, T. (forthcoming) '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.