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Aldo Antonio Lauria Santiago


Aldo Lauria Santiago is a Professor in the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies and the Department of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is a historian of Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Latinos in the US. He specializes in peasant and working-class history, revolution, ethnicity and race. His Ph.D. is from The University of Chicago, his MA is from the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University and his BA is from Princeton University.

He trained as a Mexicanist at The University of Chicago with Professors John Coatsworth and Friederich Katz and began his career as a historian of El Salvador.  His first book, An Agrarian Republic Commercial Agriculture and the Politics of Peasant Communities in El Salvador, 1823-1914 traces the social, economic and political history of El Salvador during the nineteenth century from the perspective of its regions, municipalities and peasant communities.

With noted historian and filmmaker Jeffrey Gould he continued his work on El Salvador into the twentieth Century with To Rise in Darkness Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932. This book is a history of the 1932 peasant/communist revolt of El Salvador and the traumatic memory of state-sponsored mass murder that followed it and has haunted the country ever since. He also co-edited two books on Caribbean and Central American studies.

During the last ten years his work has turned towards the Caribbean and the United States. He now works on the history of the Puerto Rican (and other Latino) workers in New York City. Most recently he co-authored with Lorrin Thomas a book that examines the history of Puerto Rican struggles for empowerment in the US since the 1950s (Rethinking The Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights). A co-edited book with Rutgers colleague Ulla Berg on Latinos in New Jersey is under contract with Rutgers University Press.

The first book based on his research on New York City up to 1950 is under review with the University of North Carolina Press. A second volume will follow and bring the story to the 1980s.  He also has various manuscripts on the Puerto Rican migration process and the island's development.  An edited issue of Centro Journal coedited with Ana Ramos Zayas and Charles Venator Santiago is forthcoming in 2021.

At Rutgers he co-coordinates the Latino Studies Research Initiative with Henry Rutgers Term Chair Lilia Fernandez. He also coordinates the Rutgers Working Group on the History of Latinos and Puerto Ricans in the US. He has served professionally in different capacities and served as chair of the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies for seven years.

Lauria Santiago was born in Chicago and grew up in Puerto Rico, where he graduated from the University of Puerto Rico Secondary School. His mother was a native of Salinas, Puerto Rico and also a University of Chicago graduate. His father is from the Bronx.


Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights
Lorrin R. Thomas & Aldo A. Lauria Santiago
Routledge, 2018

Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights offers a reexamination of the history of Puerto Ricans’ political and social activism in the United States in the twentieth century. Authors Lorrin Thomas and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago survey the ways in which Puerto Ricans worked within the United States to create communities for themselves and their compatriots in times and places where dark-skinned or ‘foreign’ Americans were often unwelcome. The authors argue that the energetic Puerto Rican rights movement which rose to prominence in the late 1960s was built on a foundation of civil rights activism beginning much earlier in the century. The text contextualizes Puerto Rican activism within the broader context of twentieth-century civil rights movements, while emphasizing the characteristics and goals unique to the Puerto Rican experience. Lucid and insightful, Rethinking the Struggle for Puerto Rican Rights provides a much-needed introduction to a lesser-known but critically important social and political movement.

To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932
Jeffrey L. Gould & Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago
Duke University Press, 2008

“To Rise in Darkness tells the story of the 1932 Communist-led uprising in El Salvador and the violent repression that followed, one of the most consequential events in Latin American history. As a prelude to the widespread terror that would sweep throughout Central America during the Cold War, this killing is beginning to receive scholarly attention, yet To Rise in Darkness will be the touchstone for future discussion of the 1932 revolt and massacre. Based on painstaking research and exhibiting a sharp conceptual focus, this book will influence scholarship on the relationship between political mobilization, ideology, and violence for years to come.”—Greg Grandin, author of The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation

An Agrarian Republic

An Agrarian Republic: Commercial Agriculture and the Politics of Peasant Communities in El Salvador, 1823-1914
Aldo Lauria-Santiago
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999

With unprecedented use of local and national sources, Lauria-Santiago presents a more complex portrait of El Salvador than has ever been ventured before. Using thoroughly researched regional case studies, Lauria-Santiago uncovers an astonishing variety of patterns in land use, labor, and the organization of production. He finds a diverse, commercially active peasantry that was deeply involved with local and national networks of power. An Agrarian Republic challenges the accepted vision of Central America in the nineteenth century and critiques the "liberal oligarchic hegemony" model of El Salvador. Detailed discussions of Ladino victories and successful Indian resistance give a perspective on Ladinization that does not rely on a polarized understanding of ethnic identity.

Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean
Aviva Chomsky & Aldo Lauria-Santiago
Duke University Press, 1998

“This collection gives us a much more nuanced view of labor in these regions than previously available. Using archives and oral history, the writers successfully break through the screen of elite-centered history into the world of the masses.”—David McCreery, Georgia State University

“This volume does an exceptional job of bringing together in a single volume very substantial new research on working people and their history in the Hispanic Caribbean Basin.”—Ralph Lee Woodward Jr., Tulane University

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Landscapes of Struggle: Politics, Society, and Community in El Salvador
Edited by Aldo Lauria-Santiago and Leigh Binford
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004

"An excellent example of a new generation of scholarship on El Salvador. It represents a concerted effort to apply the insights of subaltern studies, gender studies, historical anthropology, and cultural studies to the understanding of the country's past."--Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, Director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute, Fordham University "Rarely has history met contemporary cultural and political analysis of Latin America on such fertile terrain. . . .A fresh, critical, interdisciplinary lens."--Charles R. Hale, University of Texas


Una Republica Agraria
Aldo Lauria Santiago
CONCULTURA, Ministerio de Educacion, El Salvador 2003

Una república agraria representa un avance trascendental en la historiografía Salvadoreña. Aldo Lauria-Santiago fue el primer académico que utilizó de manera extensa los archivos salvadoreños, y su tesis doctoral —que sirvió de base para el presente libro-- fue el primer estudio exhaustivo basado en dicha documentación.

El libro arranca con un análisis de la tenencia de la tierra. El campesinado  y la economía agrícola salvadoreña entre 1821 y 1880, es decir, después de la independencia de España y antes de la consolidación del estado liberal.  Entre sus planteamientos, quizás el.más destacado es el que se refiera al papel relevante del campesinado en la historia de la post-independencia de El Salvador. El autor sostiene que los campesinos conservaron un acceso a los recursos de la tierra durante un periodo mas dilatado y en proporciones mayores a los que anteriormente se creía.

Selected Journal Articles

“Holding the City Hostage: Popular Sectors and Elites in San Miguel, El Salvador, 1875,” The Americas, 68:1 (July 2011):  63-95.

“’They Call us Thieves and Steal Our Wage’: Toward a Reinterpretation of the Salvadoran Rural Mobilization, 1929-1931.” coauthored with Jeffrey Gould, Hispanic American Historical Review, May 2004.

“Café Comunidad y Capitalismo Agrario en la Transformación del Campesino Ladino Salvadoreño.” Revista Repositorio-Archivo General de la Nación, I:1 (March 2003): 46-61

“Land, Community, and Revolt in Indian Izalco, 1860-1900.” Hispanic American Historical Review. 79:3 August 1999.

Selected Book Chapters

“Puerto Rican Workers and the Struggle for Decent Lives in New York City, 1910s-1970s,” in Joshua Freeman, editor. Labor’s City: A History of Workers and Organized Labor in New York City. Museum of the City of New York. Columbia University Press, 2019.

“Discurso liberal, práctica campesina: la privatización de tierras en la región del volcán de San Vicente,” in López Bernal, Carlos Gregorio, (Ed.) Poder, actores sociales y conflictividad, El Salvador: 1786-1972. Colección Cultura y Sociedad. San Salvador: Dirección Nacional de Investigaciones en Cultura y Artes, SECULTURA, 2011.

“Land, Production and Trade: Nineteenth-Century Economic and Social Patterns” in A Companion to Latin American History, Thomas Holloway ed., Blackwell Companions to World History. Blackwell Publishing, 2008: 264-284.

“The Culture and Politics of State Terror and Repression in El Salvador” in When the State Kills, Cecilia Menjivar and Nestor Rodriguez, eds. University of Texas Press, 2005:  85-114.

"'That a Poor Man be Industrious:' Coffee, Community, and Agrarian Capitalism in the Transformation of El Salvador's Ladino Peasantry, 1760-1900" in Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, edited by Aldo Lauria-Santiago and Aviva Chomsky. Duke University Press, 1998.

"Los Indígenas de Cojutepeque, la política faccional, y el estado nacional en El Salvador, 1830-1890" in Construcción de las identidades y del estado moderno en Centro America, Arturo Taracena, ed. (San José: UCA Editores/CEMCA/FLACSO, 1995).