I write about Latin American soldiers. My interest goes back to 1999 when I studied at the University of Chile. The military’s influence in national life sparked my curiosity in topics such as military thought, guerrilla warfare, and US-Chile relations.
My new book Latin American Soldiers: Armed forces in the region’s history (Routledge, 2019) uses warfare and military traditions to highlight themes in Latin American history and invite informed comparisons. Designed for undergraduates, it includes individual chapters on four very different countries –Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Mexico.
The Pinochet Generation: The Chilean Military in the Twentieth Century (University of Alabama Press, 2016), follows the careers of officers who entered Chile’s military academies in the 1930s and 1940s, completed advanced training in the 1950s and 1960s, and went on to positions of senior leadership in the 1970s. This generation overthrew president Salvador Allende and decisively altered the country’s historical trajectory. A central argument of the book is that the peculiar nature of the Pinochet regime (1973–1990)—its policies, repressiveness, longevity, and political project—cannot be separated from a broader intellectual and institutional culture in the armed forces.
A very different historical interest of mine, one that forms a part of my longer term research agenda, has to do with the people and places Spanish conquistadors failed to conquer, most notably in southern Chile where indigenous armies forced Spain to recognize their sovereignty over lands south of the Bío Bío River. Two topics interest me. First, the religious and cultural values that sustained Mapuche resilience and resistance after initial defeats in the sixteenth century. Second, the peculiar modus vivendi that developed between natives and Spanish authorities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.