Paul Gootenberg

SUNY Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology (M.Phil. Oxford, 1981; Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1985)

Posts by Paul Gootenberg


Within the innovative thematic and transnational emphasis of the history doctorate program at Stony Brook, Latin American history is a thriving area concentration.  Indeed, Stony Brook is recognized as one of the country’s top Ph.D. training centers in Latin American history.  Since the 1990s, Stony Brook has awarded more than two dozen doctorates in this field and Stony Brook students go onto important teaching and research posts across the Americas.  Our students have won an especially impressive share of international fellowships for their doctoral research, such as Fulbrights and SSRC-IDRF fieldwork grants.  They also benefit from such programs as a Stony Brook-LACS Tinker Fellowship for overseas summer travel research.  Latin American History has enjoyed the leadership of internationally-renowned professors such as Brooke Larson (Bolivia, ethnicity); Paul Gootenberg (Peru, drugs); and Eric Zolov (Mexico, culture).  They are now joined by two junior scholars, Elizabeth Newman (Mexico, material culture) and Lori Flores (Latinos, labor).  Our students also work with related scholars within the History Department, such as Jennifer Anderson (slavery, commodities); Jared Farmer (borderlands, environmental); Ian Roxborough (revolutions, military); Chris Sellers (environmental, labor); and Kathleen Wilson (empire, Caribbean).  Students also collaborate with distinguished Latin Americanist scholars in other fields, such as Sociology and Hispanic Languages, integrated by the cross-disciplinary Latin American and Caribbean Studies center (LACS), which is actually located in the History Department.  Stony Brook doctoral students also interact regularly with peers from Columbia, NYU and other New York area universities through a class consortium program and monthly seminars of the New York City Workshop on Latin American History. Students have ample opportunity for developing their teaching skills in summer and adjunct posts, and participate in an annual international Latin Americanist graduate conference organized by LACS.

A Stony Brook training in Latin American history excels in several ways.  It is rooted in a vibrant and collegial community which brings together young working historians from across Latin America–Peruvians, Argentines, Chileans, Colombians, Mexicans, and others–with their peers from North America.  Moreover, each student, regardless of their country or topical specialization, develops close-knit mentoring relationships with each of our professors, who emphasize interpretative, comparative, and methodological skills in fostering new and critical perspectives on Latin American history.

NYC Latin American History Workshop (NYCLAHW)

NYC Latin American History Workshop (NYCLAHW), an inter-university scholarly project which meets in New York City, on Fridays, 11am-1pm, followed by lunch.  A joint project of the graduate programs in Latin American History at Columbia, CUNY, NYU, The New School, and Stony Brook.  Click here for Spring 2013 SCHEDULE!

To join the NYCLAHW e-list and receive electronic papers, contact:


HIS 542-Modern Latin American History (Graduate Field Seminar)

This Field Seminar introduces some major debates and literatures about Latin American history since 1820.  It is designed for MA-level education students as well as MA students who plan to go on to a Ph.D. in History.  Dedicated students from other regional concentrations, disciplines, and area universities are also welcome.

Thematic Focus: We hope students master here the basic contours of modern Latin America (1820-2000), however, the road there is mainly historiographical or methodological.  We critically engage–via intensive readings, weekly discussions, and debate–some ten model monographs in the field.  Rather than cover all the “great books” in this large vibrant field, whether classic or cutting-edge, we’ll focus on a broad theme found across recent historiography: Transnationalizing the post-colonial history of the Americas.  Instead of the “national” units of analysis that dominated the field until the 1990s (Argentine history, Mexican history, etc.), focused around the nation-state, nationalism, and national identities, we look at the ways in which recent historians have tried to bring in the larger global connections, contexts, and interfaces of Latin American peoples, ranging from their culture to their commodities.  This theme derives from twenty-first century concerns with globalization and the History Department’s transnational concerns.

During the first few weeks, using Joseph, LeGrand, and Salvatore’s (1998) programmatic volume Close Encounters of Empire, plus a few key essays, we will try to draw out and define what the “transnational turn” means for Latin Americanists.  Then, using close readings of ten or so fascinating major new monographs, we’ll examine diverse angles on transnational Latin American histories—ranging from the Andes and Brazil to Mexico and the Caribbean, and with topics drawn from cultural and political history to commodity, labor, racial, food, and environmental histories. We hope to end up with a critical awareness of how well Latin American historians, at least those in the United States, have developed such concepts.  Does transnational history transcend older national or local histories?  How does it complicate established notions of empire, agency, or sovereignty?

Requirements/Expectations: There are a few basic requirements for the seminar:

1) Consistent commitment to readings and to energetic participation in weekly group discussions.

2) A collective writing assignment, of 8-10 pages, during Weeks 5-6, to evaluate how you think and write on paper.  This is followed by individual meetings with students.

3) Two critical book reviews, of 5-7 pages, of texts read in the latter half of the seminar

4) Doctoral students should also participate as possible (and report on) the New York City Workshop in Latin American History (NYCWLAH), a collaborative group with scholars from Columbia, CUNY, and NYU.  Paper Workshops this term are from 11-1pm on four Fridays (Jan. 25, Feb. 22, Mar. 22, Apr. 19) at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Join their mailing list ( for e-papers.  Our seminar also relates well to the SB-LACs annual grad conference (April 12) on “Commodities, Capitalism & Culture:  Latin America and the World.”

Readings:  All books are on sale at the University Bookstore, though many students haggle for books better on the internet.  Major texts are also on reserve at the Melville Library (3rd Floor). We have a set of additional transnationalism essay readings for pondering during Weeks 1-3.

Major Monographs:

Gilbert Joseph, Catherine LeGrand, Ricardo Salvatore, eds., Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations (Duke Univ. Press, 1998)

Michel Gobat, Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule (Duke Univ. Press, 2005)

Paul Gootenberg, Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug (Univ. of North Carolina  Press, 2008)

Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2004)

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950 (Princeton Univ. Press, 2008)

Jana Lipman,  Guantanamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution  (Duke Univ. Press, 2008)

José Moya, Cousins and Strangers: Spanish Immigrants in Buenos Aires, 1850-1930 (U-California, 1998)

Jeffrey Pilcher, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012)

Deborah Poole, Vision, Race, and Modernity: A Visual Economy of the Andean Image World  (Princeton Univ. Press, 1997)

Micol Siegal, Uneven Encounters: Making Race and Nation in Brazil and the U.S. (Duke Univ. Press, 2009)

John Soluri, Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Agrarian Change in Honduras and the United States (Univ. of Texas Press, 2005)

Eric Zolov, Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture (U. of California Press, 1999)

Recommended volumes: (limited numbers)

Gil Joseph, Daniela Spenser, eds., In From the Cold: Latin America and New Encounters with the Cold War (Duke Univ. Press, 2008)

Steven Topik, C. Marichal, and Z. Frank, eds, From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains & the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000 (Duke Univ. Press, 2006)

HIS 553-World Commodities and Historical Political Economy

This theme seminar, intended for aspiring Ph.D. students from any regional concentration, uses the burgeoning field of commodity history and the terrain of Latin American and global history to explore the uses and value of “political economy” in history. The cultural turn of the 1990s, however necessary, tended to erase many of the pressing social and economic concerns of previous waves of theoretically-inclined historians.  Now, emerging approaches to material goods and global consumption may offer to bring cultural, anthropological, constructionist, and transnational perspectives deep into the realm of economic and social history.  The seminar uses a string of those new commodity histories to trace out these possibilities for more culturally and socially informed varieties of historical economics.  In the process, students will concertedly revisit and reflect on classic interdisciplinary and materialist perspectives such as modernization, state-building and developmentalism, neo-Marxism, Polanyian anthropology, structuralism, institutionalism, dependency, and world systems analysis.

This seminar demands intensive reading and discussion participation.  It welcomes graduate students with interdisciplinary interests.  The semester is divided into two parts.  In the first half, we plow through and dissect new works in commodity history.  In the second half, in close consultation with the professor, students focus on a particular political economy school or tradition for individual study.  Students will learn about and evaluate its earlier contributions to historical research, its limitations, and its prospects for renewal.  The seminar has two written assignments. The first, over Weeks 6-7, is a brief exercise, from a collective essay question, about the commodity literatures covered.  The second  paper, about 15-20 pages, will result from student’s critical assessment of a historical political economy perspective, and is due on the last day of the seminar, May 7.  Students will report on their themes in seminar as well.

The following seminar books–most  worth buying–are available at Stony Brooks (only):

Steven Topik, Carlos Marichal, and Zephyr Frank, eds, From Silver to Cocaine   (Duke UP)

Arnold Bauer, Goods, Power, History:  Latin America’s Material Culture (Cambridge UP)

Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power:  The Place of Sugar in Modern History (Penguin)

Arturo Warman, Corn & Capitalism (Univ. of North Carolina Press)

Judith Carney, Black Rice: African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Harvard UP)

William Roseberry, Gudmundson, Samper, Coffee, Society, and Power in Latin America (JHUP)

John Soluri, Banana Cultures (Univ. of Texas Press)

Paul Gootenberg, ed., Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug (on order, UNC Press)

Fernando Coronil, The Magical State (Univ. of Chicago Press)

We’ll also deploy a few critical “handouts” during the first weeks of the seminar. The professor’s office hours are best confirmed by graduate appointment.  Professors Moran/or Roxborough from Sociology may come talk to the group about “development” studies.

Curriculum Vitae
SBS N-319
Research Interests
My research and graduate training interests span most of modern Latin America, with special strengths in Andean and Mexican history and in questions of historical sociology. My current writing centers around the history of drug commodities, especially Andean cocaine as a global drug.  I am also interested in historical dimensions of Latin American inequalities.   In the first part of my career, I wrote largely about nineteenth-century Peru--its economic and social history, state formation, political economy, and the history of economic ideas. I was trained ages ago as an interdisciplinary historian at Chicago and Oxford, and I maintain this broad interest in social science and historical practice, including an affiliated appointment in Sociology at Stony Brook.  I helped to establish our innovative interdepartmental workshop, the Initiative in Historical Social Sciences (IHSS), and serve as a coordinator of the monthly New York Latin American History Workshop, which brings together students and faculty from Columbia, NYU, CUNY and Stony Brook.

Gootenberg is active in a number of interdisciplinary research programs at the (Brooklyn-based) Social Science Research Council (SSRC).  He is the 2010-13 Chair of the Drugs, Security, and Democracy (DSD) Fellowship—a program that fosters alternative research on drugs and violence in the Americas through dissertation and postdoctoral grants and workshops.  He is currently (with UCLA Geographer Judith Carney) a Research Director in the DPDF (Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship) on the topic of “Global Commodity Studies,” a program that helps early doctoral students explore proposal development on innovative cross-disciplinary themes.  Click here for more information on this year’s (2013) DPDF program.
Scholarly Works
ANDEAN COCAINE: The Making of a Global Drug  (University of North Carolina Press, 2008)

A CHOICE 'Distinguished Academic Title' of 2009 
"This tour de force illustrates how a fresh, insightful focus on a single commodity can illuminate economic development, political and social concerns, shifting ideologies, and cultural change, both locally and globally.  Highly recommended." --CHOICE, JULY 2009 

Reviews of Andean Cocaine:

La República (Lima, Peru)

Amazon Reviews


"Cocaína Story,"  Editorial, La República (Lima), March 2009

Press Release, Stony Brook University, March 2009

Social History, Drinot 2010

Geschichte.transnational, On-line Andean Cocaine discussion, Universität Leipzig, 2010

Contracorriente, Arnold Bauer Review Essay, Winter 2010

Journal of World History, 2010

American Historical Review, 2010

Social History Drugs & Alcohol, Spillane 2010

Latin America H-Net, Carey, 2011

Historica, Monsalve, 2011

Journal of Historical Geography, 2011

Journal of Latin American Studies, Pearce, February 2013

Interviews, Blogs, Lectures:

The Page 99 Test, The Campaign for the American Reader, April 2009

Wilson Center LAP, Book Discussion (Washington D.C.), May 2009

"Coke Story,"  Interview, Milenio (Mexico City), March 2009

Author Q&A, UNC Press, 2009

Rorotoko, Featured Author, June 2009

Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 2009

FOCUS 580, Radio Interview with David Inge,  Illinois NPR, December 2009

The Clinic (Chile) , Interview (Spanish), Oct. 2010

New York Times, June 2010

Points Blog, 2011

Washington post/AP,  January 2011

Miami Herald, Sept. 2011

ACLS News: Focus on Research: Paul Gootenberg F'06, F'88 on Writing (and Finishing) the History of Cocaine,  6/11/2012

"War on drugs: at what cost?Revista História, Ciências, Saúde - Manguinhos, August 2013

Keynote Address—Society for History of Drugs Alcohol, “Under Control?: Alcohol and Drug Regulation, Past and Present.”  London, June 2013

Professor Paul Gootenberg: “Controlling cocaine: Policy 'blowback' and The hemispheric - historical origins of the Mexican Drug War, 1900-2000,” London, June 2013

"How Peru is dethroning Colombia as cocaine king," MSN News, Sept. 2013

 Public lecture, “Pre-Colombian Epoch of Drug Trafficking in the Americas”,  Taft Center, May 2010, Cincinnati;  Part 1 & Part 2

 Public lecture, Case Western Reserve, Humanities Center, Oct. 2010

 Interview, LSE IDEAS Conference, “Governing the Drug Wars”,  London, Oct. 2012

 "Coca at the Crossroads" Symposium at Stony Brook University, "Introduction: The Problem(s) of Coca,"  April 2013


Indelible Inequalities in Latin America: Insights from History, Politics, and Culture (Duke University Press, 2010)

Reviews of Indelible Inequalities:

Amazon Reviews

Bulletin of Latin American Research Review

Social Anthropology Review 

History and Anthropology Review

H-Net Review

History Review of New Books

Journal of Latin American Studies Review

Latin American Review of Books

LA Dialogues of Inequality, April 2012

CROLAR, Critical Reviews on Latin American Research, July 2012

Feast of Inequality, LA Review of Books, 2012

Interviews, Blogs, Lectures:

Indelible Inequalities Interview, Fall 2010


Select Recent Essays:

Fishing for Leviathans? Shifting Views on the Liberal State and Development in Peruvian History. Journal of Latin American Studies, 45, pp 121­-141,(2013)

“Cocaine's Long March North: 1900‐2010,” Latin American Politics and Society, 54/1  (Spring 2012), 159‐80.

"A Forgotten Case of ‘Scientific Excellence on the Periphery': The Nationalist Cocaine Science of Alfredo Bignon,1884-1887," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49/1 Jan. 2007 (winner, NECLAS Best Article Prize, 2008)

"The PreColombian Era of Drug Trafficking in the Americas: Cocaine, 1945-1965," The America TAM, Oct. 2007

"Cocaine in Chains: The Rise and Demise of a Global Commodity,1860-1950," in  S. Topik, C. Marichal, Z. Frank, eds. From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000.  Duke, 2006

"Between Coca and Cocaine: A Century or More of U.S.-Peruvian Drug Paradoxes," Hispanic American Historical Review, 83/1 Feb. 2003

"Hijos of Dr. Gerschenkron: 'Late-Comer' Conceptions in Latin American Economic History" In M. Centeno, F. López-Alva, eds. The Other Mirror: Grand Theory through the lens of Latin America.  Princeton, 2001


Select Early Publications:

Cocaine Global HistoriesRoutledge 1999


IMAGINING DEVELOPMENT: Economic Ideas in Peru's “Fictitious Prosperity” of Guano, 1840-1880.  California, 1993 

BETWEEN SILVER AND GUANO: Commercial Policy and the State in Postindependence Peru,  Princeton, 1989


Caudillos y Comerciantes. La formación económica del estado peruano 1820-1860, Centro de Estudios Regionales, 1997