Associate Professor of History; Research Associate for the BU Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA)


Latin American history with a focus on the historical and cultural origins of grassroots activism and the ways in which social movements contribute to the deepening of democracy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries

Jeffrey W. Rubin is the author of Decentering the Regime: Ethnicity, Radicalism, and Democracy in Juchitán, Mexico (Duke 1997) and co-author of Sustaining Activism: A Brazilian Women’s Movement and a Father-Daughter Collaboration (Duke 2013).  A specialist on social movements in Latin America, Rubin combines innovative methodological approaches with the study of democratic possibility in Latin America over the past thirty years.

Rubin’s work is ethnographic, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and transnational.  He is co-editor of Enduring Reform:  Progressive Activism and Private Sector Responses in Latin America’s Democracies (Pittsburgh 2015), a project that brought together teams of Latin America- and U.S.-based researchers to study the responses of businesspeople to progressive reform initiatives in five Latin American cities.; Lived Religion and Lived Citizenship in Latin America’s Zones of Crisis, (a Special Issue of The Latin American Research Review, 2014), which grew out of a series of four international conferences involving social movement scholars and scholars of religionand Beyond Civil Society:  Social Movements, Civic Participation, and Democratic Contestation (Duke, forthcoming 2016), the result of a hemisphere-wide collaboration among social movement scholars that compares disruptive activism “in the streets” with engagement in the participatory institutions developed by Latin America’s leftist governments

 Rubin’s current project, Seeing and Not Seeing:  Essays on Democratic Possibility in Latin America and Beyond, argues that in order to understand the dynamic and unstable mixes of democracy and violence, economic expansion and continuing exclusions, that characterize Latin America today – and to discern possibilities for and limits to progressive reform in this context – it is essential to conceptualize historical forces and political actors not as coherent and bounded, but rather as made up of multiple and changing forces, strands, and cultures.

Rubin has received fellowships and grants from the MacArthur Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Ford Foundation, The American Philosophical Society, The Mellon-LASA Seminars, and the Fulbright Program.  He has also held Fellowships at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard, the Boston University Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, The Center for Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, The Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers, The Program in Culture and Politics at UNICAMP, Brazil, and the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Curriculum Vitae

Seeing and Not Seeing Project in BUCH Critical Conversations

Seeing and Not Seeing Project Website