Westenly Alcenat

Yesenia Barragan

Email: Yesenia Barragan
Field: Latin America
Advisor: Nara Milanich
Year: 2009

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Latin American History, focusing on race, gender, slavery, and emancipation in Colombia and the Americas. My dissertation entitled, “To The Mine I Will Not Go: Freedom, Family, and the Abolition of Slavery on the Colombian Black Pacific, 1821-1852,” explores the social struggles over freedom and enslavement during the gradual abolition of slavery in the frontier, gold-mining Pacific coastal province of Chocó, Colombia through gender, the household, and the family. My committee includes Nara Milanich (Advisor), Pablo Piccato, Caterina Pizzigoni, Natasha Lightfoot, Michael Taussig (Anthropology), and Marcela Echeverri (Yale).

My archival research and studies at Columbia have been supported by the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, the Social Science Research Council-International Dissertation Research Fellowship, the Evelyn Walker Fellowship, the George E. Haynes Fellowship, and the Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, in addition to grants from the Institute of Latin American Studies, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, the SSRC-Mellon Mays Initiative, and the Mining History Association. At Columbia, I was the co-founder of the Workshop on Critical Approaches to Race and Ethnicity, a program of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia, and the Graduate History Association’s Students of Color and Allies Chair. In addition to working on initiatives to increase racial and social diversity in higher education, I am a staff member for AfroColombia NY, an NYC-based organization that organizes events on AfroColombian history, culture, and social issues. I have also served as a Teaching Fellow for Colonial and Modern Latin America, and will offer an undergraduate seminar of my own design titled "Race in Latin America, 1492-present."

Currently, I am a monthly columnist for TeleSUR English, reporting on social movements and popular culture in the Americas and southern Europe. I have published both academic and popular articles in a variety of journals and anthologies including Anamesa: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2011), Negritud: Journal of Afro-Latin American Studies (2014), The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (Oxford University Press, 2014), and The End of the World As We Know It? Crisis, Resistance, and the Age of Austerity (AK Press, 2014). Moreover, I write fictocriticism, and am particularly interested in exploring alternative modes of historical analysis and methods of composition. My new book, Selling Our Death Masks: Cash-for-Gold in the Age of Austerity (Zero Books, 2014), is a radical historical ethnography of gold and cash-for-gold shops in the wake of the worst economic crisis of our times. For more about my work and studies, feel free to check out: http://columbia.academia.edu/YeseniaBarragan.

I received my Masters from Columbia in 2010, with a thesis entitled “From Agricultural Modernization to Alternative Energy: The First and Second Green Revolutions in Colombia,” and my M.Phil. from Columbia in 2012. Prior to Columbia, I received my B.A. with Honors, Magna Cum Laude, in Political Philosophy and Ethics and Latin American History at Brown University in 2008, where I was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and Beinecke Scholar. Prospective students interested in the PhD program in Latin American History at Columbia are welcome to contact me.