Robert Alegre is a Chilean-American historian of Latin America. His work has followed two tracks: the history of social movements during the Cold War, and the history of gender and sexuality. His book, Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico: Gender, Class, and Memory (Nebraska, 2013), argues that a national working-class movement emerged in Mexico during the 1950s, demonstrating the contested process of modernization in the postwar period. This movement, which included major industrial unions as well as teachers, challenged the hegemony of the ruling party, influencing and anticipating the heralded student movement of the 1960s. In the 1950s, these workers and their families sustained the largest strikes since those that preceded the Revolution of 1910.
Drawing on multi-site oral histories as well as previously unstudied company and government records, Alegre reconstructs community life and clandestine organizing during the Cold War. His study shows how the legacy of the Revolution continued to shape working-class expectations during this period. Finally, it is the first study to include railway women in the history of the industry and of the 1950s movement.
Professor Alegre is currently working on two projects. The first uses judicial records from the Chilean national archive to analyze the legal construction of sodomy in modern Chile. An essay with some of his initial findings is currently under review for an edited volume on violence in Latin America. The second is a book-length survey of how ordinary people—as opposed to politicians and diplomats—experienced the Cold War in Latin America. The book will be aimed at undergraduate students as well as the general public.
Dr. Alegre has been awarded two Fulbright grants for his research on Mexico, as well as grants from the Hewlett Foundation and Tinker Foundation, among others.
Professor Alegre's scholarly interests also include the history of slavery, collective memory, and women's history. If you are interested in taking one of his courses or just chatting about Latin America, feel free to e-mail him or to stop him in the halls.
gender and sexuality