Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Introducing... Professor Nancy Appelbaum

6 February 2024

Professor Nancy Appelbaum is an IAS Senior Visiting Research Fellow in 2023-24.

Professor Nancy Appelbaum

Nancy Appelbaum studies racial inequalities embedded in regional and national identities and stereotypes.  Her first book  Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846-1948 (2003, Spanish 2008) examined agrarian and regional history from the perspective of a diverse community in Colombia’s Coffee Region over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  A subsequent book, Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Colombia (2016; Spanish 2017), follows a group of mid-nineteenth-century geographers as they traverse and depicted the mountains, valleys, plains, and forests of the country that became Colombia.  The book examines how they explained the racial and territorial composition of the young nation, how they reconstructed its past, and how they envisioned its future.  With Anne Macpherson and Karin Rosemblatt she co-edited Race and Nation in Modern Latin America (2003), a volume of essays by historians.  She has also published articles and book chapters on these and related topics. Additional areas of interest include gender, immigration, and transnational links between Latin America and the United States.

Project Description

Nancy Appelbaum will devote her time at the Institute of Advanced Studies to a short book on a big topic: A Brief History of Race in Latin America. Drawing on an abundant and rich interdisciplinary literature by a range of scholars based in the Americas and Europe, the book will address questions that she has been researching, pondering, and teaching about during the last three decades.  Latin Americans have expressed pride in having racially “cordial,” “tolerant,” and “democratic” societies. Racism is often said to be less pronounced in Latin America, or not even a serious problem. Latin American racial identities are arguably more fluid and subtly differentiated than, say, those of the United States or the United Kingdom. Yet, historically, Latin Americans of color have repeatedly pointed out that their societies are not free from institutional and overt racism. In emphasizing these tensions, the book will promote informed discussion of race and racism, which affect our own lives today throughout the world.