Edgardo Pérez Morales joined the CLACS faculty in the Fall of 2013. Completing a History BA in his native Colombia, an MA in Cultural Studies in Quito, Ecuador, and finally obtaining his PhD in History at the University of Michigan, Perez Morales’s interests are as varied as his places of study.
His undergraduate work in Medellin, Colombia concentrated on history. Professor Perez Morales explained that because Colombia has only relatively recently offered a broad range of graduate programs, most undergraduate programs are very focused. The programs last for five years, and it is not just a major—it is a professional program. “You don’t get to choose what you study,” Perez Morales explains. “Without many options for graduate study, you only have one chance to get good at what you are.”
After leaving Medellin, Pérez Morales continued his education in Quito Ecuador, obtaining his MA in Cultural Studies. He continued to study 18th century South America, but shifted his focus to environmental history, specifically in the Andes. His thesis examined how people travelers who explored the Andes in the 18th century established discourse about geography and nature. Inspired by the people he met while doing his research, he was especially interested in comparing the writing of missionary versus scientific travelers. He explains, “One of the elements in common of the people I studied were that they were always traveling, always crossing paths. From Bolivia to the Caribbean—the soldiers who fought in Peruvian and Bolivian independence were from the Caribbean.”
These paths of travel are reflected in the geographic corridor of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and the Caribbean that Morales studies. “It stretches from Ecuador to Havana, Cuba,” he says, “the heart of the Americas. These independent countries actually have much more in common than people realize. There are cultural differences, but a shared history.” Morales has drawn on this shared history in his publications, writing about environmental history, slavery, emancipation, and revolution in these countries. Many of these themes are covered in his Spring 2014 class, Political Paradigms in Action: The Social Dynamics of Citizenship in Latin America & the Caribbean.
Perez Morales is currently writing an article about a slave uprising in a plantation in Mompos in northern “Caribbean” Colombia. He is examining the legal logic and the political culture of the slave and slave leaders. How after being obedient did they suddenly rise up in revolt? He explains that there is a legal culture behind these uprisings. Next Fall, he is teaching the CLACS Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Studies I.
Posted by Kyle Barron – CLACS Outreach Administrator.