Member of the Week: Alison J. Bruey

Alison J. Bruey

Professor of History

University of North Florida

Describe your current research. What about it drew your interest?

My recent book Bread, Justice, and Liberty: Grassroots Activism and Human Rights in Pinochet’s Chile (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018) is about social and political rights and activist organization against the Pinochet dictatorship in working-class neighborhoods of Santiago. While researching and writing that book I became broadly interested in how people respond to situations they perceive as disastrous. I’m currently working on two projects that fall under that umbrella. One is about democracy and protest culture in post-dictatorship Chile. The other is about modern earthquake-tsunami disasters and their relationship to social and political power.

Describe what you are currently teaching. How does your teaching relate to your scholarship? 

I’m currently teaching an undergraduate survey of Latin American history, an undergraduate research methods course, and a graduate seminar on the United States in world affairs. I also teach a Latin American film course, a modern Latin America readings seminar, and research seminars on rebellion and revolution in Latin America, transnational Latin America, and U.S.-Latin American relations. In addition to content and focus, my teaching relates to my scholarship in that all my courses include a research component. It’s important for students to practice developing questions about the world around them and learn ways of seeking answers to those questions. 

What recent or forthcoming publications are you excited about, either of your own or from other scholars?

I’m excited about an upcoming special issue of Radical Americas called “Chile’s Popular Unity at 50.” I enjoyed writing an article for that issue, on urban protest culture and the 2019 protests in Chile (“Protest and the persistence of the past”). I look forward to reading all the contributors’ work as a cohesive whole. I’m also excited about J.T. Way’s forthcoming book, Agrotropolis: Youth, Street, and Nation in the New Urban Guatemala (University of California Press, 2021) because of its potential to change how we think about urban spaces. Too, I think it’s important to revisit books in light of new research projects. I’m looking forward to re-reading William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis and María Angélica Illanes’s Chile Des-centrado.

What advice would you give to students, both undergraduate and graduate, who are interested in urban studies and are just starting out their careers?

My advice is to become voracious readers, to not allow yourselves to be bound by disciplinary silos, and to keep open and curious minds.  Once the pandemic has subsided and it’s safe to do so, I recommend traveling. This includes becoming more acquainted with the place in which you live. It’s vitally important to spend time paying attention to the rhythms and environments of the places in which you live and places elsewhere that you hope to learn more about . 

Click on the play arrow, below, to listen to Alison J. Bruey discuss recent protests in Santiago, including their roots in neoliberal policies of the 1970s and 80s that exacerbated inequalities, as well as the origins of pot-banging as a “safe” form of protest in urban areas.

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