- Hide menu

Research

I am an Associate Professor of Latin American History at the University of Toronto, where I teach undergraduate classes in the Department of Historical Studies on the Mississauga campus and graduate seminars in the Department of History on the St. George campus.

My published work examines the ways that photography has been central to capitalist modes of production and consumption in modern Latin America, as well as to the spectacle and practice of citizenship.

In my first book, A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic (University of Texas Press, 2016), I argue that the “banana republic” was a set of imperial images and practices that was locally checked and contested by the people of the Honduran town of El Progreso, where the United Fruit Company had one of its main divisional offices. As banana plantation workers, women, and peasants posed for pictures, they forged new ways of being while also visually asserting their rights as citizens. This was on display most dramatically in the 1954 strike of banana workers. Photography and visuality were thus put to use in reshaping landscapes and livelihoods, even as countervailing claims to sovereignty, belonging, and the right to make demands of one’s employer and the state were also made through photographs and public performances that were staged for a camera and the implied spectator that it promised. For a quick introduction to the work of Rafael Platero Paz, one of the central characters in A Camera in the Garden of Eden, see: “Vintage Photographs of Banana Workers,” in this Slate Magazine article by Jordan G. Teicher.

I am currently at work on several projects: a short documentary film on the 1928 strike and massacre of banana workers in Colombia, an open-access digital archive called “Visualizing the Americas,” and others.

For my Ph.D., I studied with an amazing group of Latin Americanists at Indiana University.


Selected Publications

Book

A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of the Banana Republic (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016).

Interview on the book, by Nicolás Quiroga for the Hispanic American Historical Review online. April 2017.

Edited Volumes

Photography and Work, edited by Kevin Coleman, Daniel James, and Jayeeta Sharma. Radical History Review 18, no. 3 (132) (October 2018).

Capitalism and the Camera, edited by Kevin Coleman and Daniel James. (In-progress.)

Late Cold War Latin America: Coups d’état, Legal Infrastructures, and Cultural Processes, edited by Sebastián Carassai and Kevin Coleman. (In-progress.)

Articles and Chapters

Coleman, Kevin, Daniel James, and Jayeeta Sharma. “Photography and Work.” Radical History Review 18, no. 3 (132) (October 2018): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-6942345.

*Our essay is available for free from Duke University Press.

“Practices of Refusal in Images: An Interview with Tina M. Campt.” Radical History Review 18, no. 3 (132) (October 2018): 209–19. https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-6942715.

‘En uso de las facultades de que está investido’: El estado de sitio en Honduras, 1890-1956,” in Historia de las desigualdades sociales en América Central, edited by Ronny J. Viales Hurtado and David Días Arias (San José: Colección Nueva Historia Contemporánea de Centroamérica, 2016), pp. 275-304. For the tables documents uses of the suspension clause in Honduras between 1890-1956, see Tables 1 and 2_The State of Siege in Honduras, 1890-1956.

The Right Not to Be Looked At.” Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe, 25, no. 2 (2015): 43-63.

The Photos We Don’t Get to See: Sovereignties, Archives, and the 1928 Massacre of Banana Workers in Colombia,” in Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialismedited by Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman (New York: New York University Press, 2015), pp. 104-136.

An abbreviated version of this chapter was published as “Las fotos que no alcanzamos a ver: Soberanías, archivos y la masacre de trabajadores bananeros de 1928 en Colombia,” in Fotografía e historia en América Latina, edited by John Mraz and Ana María Mauad (Montevideo: Centro de fotografía de Montevideo, 2015), pp. 149-174, translated by Juan Pablo Bermúdez Rey.

Photographs of a Prayer: The (Neglected) Visual Archive and Latin American Labor History.” Hispanic American Historical Review, 95, no. 3 (2015): 459-492.

Awarded Honorable Mention for the James Alexander Robertson Prize for Best Article in the Hispanic American Historical Review, 2015-2016.

* “Fotografías de una plegaria: El archivo visual y la historia obrera latinoamericana,” Historia global y circulación de saberes en Iberoamérica, siglos XVI – XXI, editado por David Díaz Arias y Ronny J. Viales Hurtado (San José: Centro de Investigaciones Históricas de América Central, 2018), 287-328.

A Camera in the Garden of Eden.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 20, no. 1 (2011): 61-94.

An expanded version of this article was published as “Una óptica igualitaria_Autorretratos, construcción del ser y encuentro homo-social en una plantación bananera en Honduras” Diálogos, 15, no. 2 (2014), translated by David Díaz Arias.

Entre la historia y la trascendencia: El Padre Guadalupe Carney y la lucha por la reforma agraria en Honduras,” Boletín AFEHC—Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica, 44 (2010): 27 ms pages.

This article was republished in English as “Between History and Transcendence_Father Guadalupe Carney and the Struggle for Agrarian Reform in Honduras,” OPSIS, 14 (2014), 429-448.

La fotografía y la construcción del sujeto hondureño moderno.” (Photography and the Construction of the Modern Honduran Subject”). Envío-Honduras, 18 (2008): 27-35.

La pedagogía de la burla: Entre los binarios históricos en El estrecho dudoso” (The Pedagogy of Sarcasm: Between Historical Binaries in El estrecho dudoso”). Istmo, 13 (2006): 21 ms pages.


Selected Awards, Grants, and Fellowships

Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Connection Grant, 2016. Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant, 2014-2019.

Connaught New Researcher Award, University of Toronto, 2014-2015.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Institutional Grant, 2013 – 2015.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2011-2012.

Future Faculty Teaching Fellowship, Indiana University, 2010-2011.

Bernardo Mendel Fellowship, Indiana University, 2010.

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (DDRA). Honduras. United States Department of Education, 2008-2009

Shriver Practical Idealist Award, 2009.

John H. Edwards Fellowship, Indiana University, 2008.

Samuel F. Bemis Research Grant, The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), 2008.


Public History

“Practices of Refusal in Images: An Interview with Tina M. Campt,” in Radical History Review, 132 (forthcoming, October 2018).

What Hasn’t Changed in Yesterday’s Banana Republics,” History News Network, March 20, 2016.

Vintage Photographs of Banana Farmers,” Slate Magazine, by Jordan G. Teicher, February 29, 2016.

Coordinator, Latin American Research Group, a network of Toronto-based scholars who come together on a monthly basis to discuss their work in progress, 2014-2015.

Consultant for “Immigrant America: Murder and Migration in Honduras,” VICE News, September 9, 2014.

Concert–Voices against the Coup.” Winning Photograph, Spring 2012, NACLA Photo Contest.

A Coup is Not a Coup. A Not-Coup is a Coup.” History News Network. July 7, 2009. This article was reprinted on multiple websites and referenced by many political bloggers. It was listed as “Best of the Fray” by Slate.

A Chance for Real Democracy in Honduras.” History News Network. July 28, 2009. This article was listed as “Best of the Fray” by Slate.

This article was translated by Basta de Casaca as “Honduras: Una oportunidad para la verdadera democracia.”


Invited Lectures

“A Flamethrower to His Image,” Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington, April 14, 2016.

Keynote Lecture, Navigating the MetaModern, Department of Art History Annual Symposium, York University. March 19, 2016.

“Possibility Eruption Exists,” invited lecture at Brock University, March 4, 2016.

“Fotos, archivos y violencia.” Universidad de Panamá. October 10, 2015.

“Reading Images to Document the Past.” Skidmore College. Workshop sponsored by the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Colloborative. October 2015.

“Photography, Archive, Stories.” Skidmore College. September 2015.

“Las fotos que no alcanzamos a ver: Soberanías, archivos y la masacre de trabajadores bananeros de 1928 en Colombia.” Universidad de Costa Rica. June 2014.

“The Photos that We Don’t Get to See: Sovereignties, Archives, and the 1928 Massacre of Banana Workers in Colombia.” Historical and Cultural Studies seminar series. University of Toronto Scarborough. December 2013.

“Vodevil y el imperio: La ‘República Bananera’ como una representación visual.” Open Seminar. Universidad de San Andrés, Buenos Aires, Argentina. August 2013.

“La fotografía, el “quizás”, y las memorias de la gran huelga bananera en Honduras.” Department of Sociology, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Argentina. August 2013.

Keynote Address. Photographing the Perhaps.” Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Graduate Research Conference. Boston. June 2013.

“‘The Miraculous Virgin is on Strike’: Photography, Labor, and Claims to Dignity in Cold War Honduras,” Research Roundtable, Department of Historical Studies, UTM. October 2012.

“Linking the Production and Consumption of Bananas.” University of Toronto Mississauga. November 2011.

“Transnational Imagescapes: Palestinian Honduran Family Photographs in a Banana-Company Town.” University of Toronto. November 2011.

“An Encounter with the Other—An Encounter with Ourselves: A Photographic History of Honduras,” curated exhibit of photographs and gave opening lecture, Gopalan Contemporary Art Gallery. April 2010.

“Honduras and the Catholic Movement for Social Justice,” guest lecture at Marian University. March 2010.

“A Chance for Real Democracy in Honduras,” keynote address for the Shriver Practical Idealist Alumni Award. University of Maryland, Baltimore County. November 2009.

“The Honduran Connection,” feature presentation for a panel on the 2009 Honduran coup d’état.  Indiana University, Bloomington. October 2009.


Contact

kevin.coleman@utoronto.ca