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David C Lafevor


[Lafevor, David C]
  • Assistant Professor, History


Dr. LaFevor is an Assistant Professor of Latin American History and Digital Humanities.  He earned the Ph.D. and Master's degrees from Vanderbilt University and the Bachelor's degree from Rhodes College.

His first book, The Third Century: A History of U.S.-Latin American Relations (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), was coathored with Michael LaRosa and Mark Gilderhus. His second book manuscript, Prizefighting and Civilization: Race, the Public Sphere, and Identity in Cuba and Mexico, 1840s-1940s is forthcoming with from the University of New Mexico Press. It traces the racial, national, and gendered contours of the introduction and popularization of prizefighting and public spectacle in Cuba and Mexico from the 1840s to the 1930s. He is at work on a third monograph, The Slave Ship Cicerón and the Argüelles Affair, about the end of the slave trade to Cuba. His work on this project has been recognized by the Lydia Cabrera Award from the American Historical Association and a residential fellowship from Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center. This book is under precompletion contract with the University of New Mexico Press's Diálogos series.

His photography of Latin America has been exhibited in dozens of venues and published by the Huffington Post, NBC News, and other national and international publications. His work has been funded by the Fulbright Fellowship, the British Library, the Watson Fellowship and others.

He teaches undergraduate courses on Colonial and Modern Latin American History, and upper-division seminars on revolutions in Cuba and Mexico, nationalism, sport and gender, and slavery in the Western Hemisphere. He also teaches graduate courses on nationalism, slavery, comparative race relations, and historiography and mentors graduate students.

LaFevor is the director of the multiyear Digital Humanities project Siete Villas de Cuba, which locates, digitizes, preserves, and publishes endgangered colonial documents pertinent to the African diaspora in Cuba from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth centuries. This work has been featured in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press. He also serves as a team member on similar Digital Humanities projects in Colombia, Brazil, and Florida.

Professional Preparation

    • 2011 Ph.D. in Latin American History (Atlantic World/Race and Ethnicity),  Vanderbilt University
    • 2006 M.A. in Latin American HistoryVanderbilt University
    • 2003 B.A. in International Studies/Latin American StudiesRhodes College


    • May 2014 to Present Advisory Board Member
      Visual Culture Section Latin American Studies Assocation


  • Professional
    • Jan 2016 to Present Association of Caribbean Historians
  • Professional
    • Jan 2006 to Present American Historical Association
  • Professional
    • Jan 2005 to Present Southern Historical Association (SHA)
  • Membership
    • Jan 2012 to Present American Studies Association
  • Professional
    • Jan 2010 to Present Rocky Mountain Council of Latin American Studies
  • Fellow
    • Apr 2015 to Present Manuel Rivera Ortiz Foundation
  • Membership
    • Jan 2009 to Present Latin American Studies Association

Awards and Honors

    • Mar  2017 University of Florida Library Travel Grant sponsored by University of Florida
    • Feb  2017 Research Enhancement Grant sponsored by College of Liberal ArtsUnviersity of Texas at Arlington
    • Mar  2016 British Library Endangered Archives Programme Major Grant sponsored by British Library
    • Jun  2015 Director: Creating a Digital Archive of Ecclisiastical Sources in Trinidad, Bayamo, Santiago, and Baracoa, Cuba sponsored by British Library Endangered Archives Programme
    • Jun  2009 Binkley Graduate Travel Award sponsored by Vanderbilt UniversityUniversity of Texas at Arlington
    • May  2009 ● J. León Helguerra Dissertation Writing Fellowship sponsored by Vanderbilt University
    • Aug  2008 Fulbright Fellowship sponsored by Fulbright Fellowship
    • May  2006 Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship sponsored by U.S Department of EducationUniversity of Texas at Arlington
    • May  2003 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship sponsored by Thomas J. Watson Foundation

News Articles

Research and Expertise

  • Modern Latin America

    I specialize in Modern Latin American History.

  • Digital Humanities

    I am currently the director of a Digital Humanities Project to find and preserve colonial documents in the seven oldest cities in Cuba.

  • Race and Ethnicity

    My research hinges on ideas of race and ethnicity in transnational contexts.

  • Atlantic World

    My secondary areas of expertise are in the Atlantic World and paleography.


      Book Under Review
      • David C. LaFevor, Prizefighting and Civilization: Race, the Public Sphere, and Identity in Cuba and Mexico, 1840s-1940s.  (in copyediting, UNM Press).

        {Book }
      • The Slave Ship Cicerón and the Argüelles Affair (under contract, UNM Press)

        {Book }

      Book Chapter 2018
      • "Assassination, Race, Extradition, and the Public Sphere:  The Cabrera-Barillas Affair in Porfirian Mexico"   Texas A&M Press, 2017.

        {Book Chapter }

      Book 2017
      • Mark Gilderhus, David C. LaFevor ,and Michael J. LaRosa, The Third Century: U.S.-Latin American Relations Since 1889, Second Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

        {Book }

      Journal Article 2016
      • David C. LaFevor, "Prizefighting and Civilization in the Mexican Public Sphere in the Nineteenth Century" (Radical History Review, Issue 125, May 2016.

        {Journal Article }

      Book Review 2014
      • D. LaFevor, Review of Alejandra Bronfman and Andrew Grant Wood, Media, Sound, and Culture and Latin American and the Caribbean (Ethnohistory, Vol. 61, No. 2, Spring 2014)

        {Book Review }

      Book Review 2013
      • D. LaFevor, Review of Caterina Pizzigoni,  The life within: local indigenous society in Mexico's Toluca Valley, 1650-1800 in Choice Reviews, 2013.

        {Book Review }
      • D. LaFevor, Review of Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood, Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters in The Canadian Journal of History (Vol. XLVII, No. 3, 2013).

        {Book Review }
      • D. LaFevor, Review of Lillian Guerra,  Visions of Power in Cuba: Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971 in Choice Reviews, 2013. 

        {Book Review }


    • March  2017
      The Slave Ship Cicerón and the Argüelles Affair

      An invited presentation to the history department at the University of Alabama.

    • February  2017
      Race, Boxing, and U.S. Culture in Cuba During the First Republic
      A lecture based on research in Cuba, the United States, Mexico, and Argentina.
    • October  2016
      The Slave Ship Ciceron and the Argüelles Affair: Slavery, Rendition, and Emancipation in the Atlantic World

      New work on the illegal slave trade to Cuba during the U.S. Civil War.

    • October  2016
      Digital Preservation in the Siete Villas de Cuba

      An invited presenation to the history department at the University of Alabama

    • September  2016
      Cuban Histories of the Present

      A lecture to close my traveling exhibt on life in contemporary Cuba.

    • June  2016
      Siete Villas of Cuba

      Presentation of ongoing project to digitize endangered archives in Cuba.

    • June  2016
      The Argüelles Affair and the Slave Ship Cicerón

      Presentation on abolition, transnationalism, extradition and the end of the illegal slave trade to Cuba.

    • January  2016
      Creating Digital Archives in the Siete Villas of Cuba

      Paper and presentation on ongoing field work to locate and preserve documents in Cuba.

    • September  2015
      Living Challenges in Modern Cuba

      Teachers' workshop in Nashville, TN.

    • April  2015
      "Endangered Archives, Digitization, and the Possible Futures of Historical Research in Latin America."

      Ongoing work on Digitial Humanities in Latin America

    • September  2014
      • “Consuming Race in Republican Cuba: The Changing Visual Public Sphere, 1912-1935” Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference, Fort Worth, TX, 2014.

      Primary research conducted in Cuba.

    • May  2014
      ● “Stunted Laborers or Physical Specimens? Bounded Visual Representations of Afro-descendants in the Cuban Public Sphere: 1918-1940”

      Ongoing work in Cuban primary sources.

    • May  2014
      “Carleton Beals, Walker Evans, and The Crime of Cuba: Transnational Crusading in the Visual Public Sphere”

      Ongoing work in Cuba sources.

  • Past
      From Here to Havana: Cuban-U.S. Relations in the Past and Future

      A talk on the history of this challenged relationship.

  • Past
      Cuba, Digitization and the Possible Futures of DH in Cuba

      Presentation on digitzation in Cuba

  • Past
      The Voyage of the Slave Ship Ciceron

      A paper on preliminary resarch for the next monograph.

  • Past
      The Slave Ship Ciceron and the Arguelles Affair

      New work on the Ciceron and slavery in Cuba at the end of the slave trade.

  • Past
      Assassination, Race, Extradition, and the Public Sphere: The Cabrera-Barillas Affair in Porfirian Mexico

      A paper to be delivered at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting.

  • Past
      Archival Rescue and African Slavery in Cuba
      The Lapidus Center inaugural conference, “Reckoning With Slavery: New Directions in the History, Memory, Legacy, and Popular Representations of Enslavement”


  • 2016
    • May 2016 to Present Siete Villas de Cuba

      A two year digitization project in Cuba.

      Role: Principal Investigator PI: David Lafevor
  • 2014
    • Apr 2014 to Present "Prizefighting and Civilization in the Mexican Public Sphere, 1895-1900," under review by Radical History Review

      Journal Article, under review

      Role: Principal Investigator PI: David Lafevor
  • 2012
    • May 2012 to Present ● Forging the Masculine and Modern Nation: Race, Identity, and the Public Sphere in Cuba and Mexico, 1890s-1930s


      Role: Principal Investigator PI: David Lafevor


  • 2015
    • Sept 2015 Cuba: Histories of the Present

      A photographic exhibit of modern Cuban images.

    • Aug 2015 Cuban Futures: The Challenges of Life Amid Rapid Transitions

      A photographic exhibit.

    • May 2015 Latin American Studies Photographic Exhbition

      A juried exhibition of photography on poverty and social inequality  in Latin America.

    • Feb 2015 "Latin America Through the Lens"

      Photographic Exhibition

    • Mar 2015 “Cuban Détente”

      Public Lecture and Photographic Exhibition of Original Work, Memphis, TN

  • 2014
    • Nov 2014 Cuba: Histories of the Present” (November 2014-February 2015), UT Arlington

      Public Lecture and Photographic Exhibition or original work 



      • HIST 4368-001 History of Mexico

        This course examines Mexican history both as grand narrative and as a series of problems viewed from local, national, and transnational perspectives. We use a variety of readings, images, films, and discussions to develop our understanding of the ideas, people, processes, and critical moments that have driven more than five hundred years of history. The study of the Mexican past sheds light on a number of vitally important developments that shape the modern nation and its diaspora.

        While debating the causes of change over time, we will examine how events and individuals have been remembered in Mexico and around the world. This focus on memory and how the past weighs on the present is vital to understanding the multiple uses of the past by various actors in the Mexican present. If “memory is satisfied desire,” as Carlos Fuentes argues, then how do Mexicans desire to see their past? How does the past inform the present? What does this mean for the future? 

        Fall - Regular Academic Session - 2018Contact info & Office Hours
      • HIST 5364-001 Abolition and Emancipation in the Atlantic World

        This course examines the final century of slavery, abolition, and emancipation in North and South America. It focuses on two questions: 1. Which ideas, individuals, and processes best explain abolition and emancipation during the period historians have referred to as the Second Slavery? 2. How have historians formulated, argued, and explained the answers to these questions?  While exploring these broad parameters, we will address a number of related topics. How did events in Africa drive these changes? What was the relationship between the rise of industrial capitalism and the expansion of chattel slavery in places such as Cuba, Brazil, and the United States? Why did the “odious commerce” end during this period in countries and colonies as varied as Jamaica, Mexico, Argentina, Peru? How can historians examine the contraband slave trade? Did policies such as the Monroe Doctrine expand and shorten the life of chattel slavery in the western hemisphere? What was the role of public opinion and the public sphere? How did the practice of slavery mold subsequent challenges for and forms of citizenship?

                    This course will also focus on professionalization: grant writing, digital humanities, and conference paper writing. Students will create an original, primary source-based research paper on some aspect of slavery, abolition, and/or emancipation in the nineteenth century Atlantic World. The instructor will consult on each phase of the research project. These papers should be written with a potential conference presentation in mind.

        Fall - Regular Academic Session - 2018Contact info & Office Hours
      • HIST 4367-001 Modern Latin America

        This course examines the tumultuous creation and evolution of new nations in Latin America from the Wars of Independence till the present (c. 1800-2010).  Politically, this period saw the emergence of empires and monarchies, republics and dictatorships.  It was characterized by civil wars, struggles for emancipation, racial wars and genocides, and the problematic establishment of neo-colonial relationships with global and regional economic and military powers.  Culturally, Latin American nations forged new identities out of the combinations of African, European, and American roots.   Out of this process, what the Cuban intellectual Fernando Ortiz called “transculturation,” emerged Modern Latin America:  a place of opposite extremes and intensities, diversities, and unique modern challenges.

        We will focus on the interplay of ideas and social actions, individuals and social groups, historical periods and culminating events.  This is a survey of an extraordinarily diverse range of political systems, languages, cultures, geographies, national and regional identities, classes, races and genders.  The student will be challenged to think critically about a range of contentious popular and scholarly information provided by a diverse range of readings, lectures, discussions, films, and visual material. 

        Spring - Regular Academic Session - 2014Contact info & Office Hours
      • HIST 4388-003 Cuba, Mexico, and the United States

        Cuba, Mexico, and the United States examines the political, cultural, and economic aspects of the relationship between the United States and Latin America as it has evolved over the last two hundred years.  While focusing on key events in Mexico and Cuba, we will also identify underlying processes and power relations that have molded these encounters.  Among the questions we will ask:  How can we account for the starkly different histories of Mexico and Cuba since Independence?  What effect has the United States had in terms of their political, economic, and cultural development?  How have they influenced the United States?

        The student will be challenged to think critically about a range of contentious popular and scholarly information provided by a diverse range of readings, discussions, films, and visual material.  As an upper division seminar, students will be responsible for developing their own interpretations of the information and should be able to engage in meaningful debate and discussion of often controversial topics and events.

        Spring - Regular Academic Session - 2014Contact info & Office Hours

Service to the Community

  • Volunteered
    • July 2013 to  Sept 2014 Meals on Wheels

      Delivering food to elderly or disabled residents of Tarrant County.

Service to the Profession

  • Elected
    • May 2014 to  Present Steering Committee Visual Culture, Latin American Studies Association

      Committee Member

Service to the University

  • Appointed
    • Sept 2014 to  Feb 2015 Hiring Committee: Native American History Position

      Committee Member

    • Mar 2014 to  Present COLA 50th Anniversary Steering Committee

      Committee Member

  • Elected
    • May 2014 to  Present Women's and Gender Studies Advisory Board

      Advisory Board Member.

    • Sept 2013 to  Present Center for Mexican American Studies Research Associate

      Member of Research/ Writing Group