Dr. Marisol LeBrón is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a 2019-2020 Faculty Fellow at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Prior to arriving at UT, Dr. LeBrón was an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Dickinson College and a Postdoctoral Associate in Latino/a Studies in the Global South at Duke University. Dr. LeBrón received her PhD in American Studies from New York University and her bachelor's degree in Comparative American Studies and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College.
An interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. LeBrón’s research and teaching focus on social inequality, policing, violence, and protest. Her book, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2019), examines the growth of punitive governance in contemporary Puerto Rico. Dr. LeBrón has published her research in a variety of venues including Radical History Review, Journal of Urban History, Souls: A Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, NACLA Report on the Americas, and the edited volume Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter.
Along with Yarimar Bonilla, Dr. LeBrón is the co-editor of Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm (Haymarket Books, 2019). Building from the premise that Hurricane Maria is not a singular event, the contributors to this volume document the many shocks that Puerto Ricans have endured before and after the storm. Through reportage, poetry, personal narrative, and scholarly investigation, the contributors show that the effects of Hurricane Maria are best understood as the product of a long-standing colonial disaster.
Dr. LeBrón’s next project, tentatively titled Shared Geographies of Resistance: Puerto Ricans and the Uses of Solidarity, explores the role of Puerto Rican activists in international radical politics and freedom struggles over the course of the twentieth century. Drawing from rich archival data, this project will document how Puerto Ricans in the archipelago and in the diaspora have connected their struggles against U.S. colonial rule with other struggles against colonialism, racism, and military violence taking place around the globe.
Dr. LeBrón is an active contributor to popular conversations about Puerto Rico and it’s diaspora. She has published op-eds in The Guardian and Truthout (with Hilda Lloréns) and has been interviewed by a number of news outlets about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as well as the impact of Hurricane María. Dr. LeBrón is one of the co-creators and project leaders for the Puerto Rico Syllabus (#PRsyllabus), a digital resource for understanding the Puerto Rican debt crisis. She is also one of the editors for The Abusable Past, a digital project that features unique and original content related to the praxis of radical history in this social and political moment.
Follow her on Twitter @marisollebron
Journal Articles & Book Chapters
Book Reviews and Encyclopedia Entries
"Review of Pancho McFarland’s Chicano Rap: Gender and Violence in the Postindustrial Barrio," Latino Studies (2011).
"Review of Straight Outta Puerto Rico: Reggaeton’s Rough Road to Glory," Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (2009).
Policing Life and Death
About the Book
In her exciting new book, Marisol LeBrón traces the rise of punitive governance in Puerto Rico over the course of the twentieth century to the present moment. Punitive governance emerged as a way for the Puerto Rican state to manage the deep and ongoing crises stemming from the archipelago’s incorporation into the United States as a colonial territory. Experienced as a structuring component of everyday life for many Puerto Ricans, police power has reinforced social inequality and worsened conditions of vulnerability in marginalized communities.
Far from a totalizing narrative of state violence, this book provides powerful examples of how Puerto Ricans negotiate and resist their subjection to increased levels of segregation, criminalization, discrimination, and harm. Policing Life and Death shows how Puerto Ricans are actively rejecting punitive solutions and working toward alternative understandings of safety and a more just future.
Preview the book on Google Books.
"In this extraordinary book, Marisol LeBrón does a brilliant job of helping us see the everyday activism and cultural inventiveness of Puerto Ricans figuring out how to respond to state repression and colonial capitalism. It’s a genuinely thrilling read."—Laura Briggs, author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
"Policing Life and Death deftly illuminates the long historical presence of 'punitive governance' in Puerto Rico, demonstrating the depth to which gendered, racist state violence defines the US colonial/neocolonial relationship with the island and its people. This indispensable study not only focuses on the normalized, cross-generational violence generated by the policing and criminological regimes, but also pays rigorous attention to the ways Puerto Rican activists, artists, community leaders, and others respond to—and potentially transform—this punitive condition."—Dylan Rodríguez, author of Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the US Prison Regime
"LeBrón's rigorously researched, trenchant examination of how everyday life is sectioned, monitored, and controlled is an essential read for understanding modern-day Puerto Rico and all communities and societies negotiating and defending themselves from the layered execution of power."—Zaire Dinzey-Flores, author of Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City
Selected as a “Progressive Pick” by Truthout. Read “Puerto Ricans are Resisting Policing as a Solution to Crisis” an interview with Anton Woronczuk and read an excerpt of Policing Life and Death here.
Aftershocks of Disaster
About the Book
An in-depth look at Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the preexisting crisis that conditioned this historic disaster.
The concept of "aftershocks" is used in the context of earthquakes to describe the jolts felt after the initial quake, but no disaster is a singular event. Aftershocks of Disaster examines the lasting effects of hurricane Maria, not just the effects of the wind or the rain, but delving into what followed: state failure, social abandonment, capitalization on human misery, and the collective trauma produced by the botched response.
"In this gripping collection of essays, poems and photos, Aftershocks of Disaster captures both the roots of Puerto Rico's current crisis in its continuing colonial status and the determination of the island's people to persevere and forge a better future." —Juan González, author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, and co-host of Democracy Now!
"Broad in scope, passionate, and urgent, Aftershocks is a necessary anthology of Puerto Ricans telling the story not just of Maria but of resistance to colonialism, austerity and disaster capitalism." —Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood
"Hurricane Maria was a major disaster. It is also, potentially, a transformative event. The contributors to this powerful volume explain how big structural forces - climate change, colonialism, corruption, and capitalism - contributed to the devastation, but they also chart a radical path forward, towards a more just and sustainable world." —Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
“For those of us who were forced out of Puerto Rico and who watched the hurricane from outside, this book provides beautiful and painful clarity about how we got here and the struggles behind our survival.” —Rossana Rodríguez Sánchez, Boricua Activist, artist and Chicago Council member
I teach a range of introductory and advanced level courses across the fields of American Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. Click on the course titles below to see the syllabi.
The University of Texas at Austin
Introduction to Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (Spring 2019).
Policing Latinidad, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, Cross-listed with American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies (Fall 2018).
Black and Latinx Intersections, Department of American Studies, Cross-listed with Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, Africana Studies elective course (Spring 2018)
Learning Injustice: The School-to-Prison Pipeline, First Year Seminar Program (Fall 2017).
Workshop in Cultural Theory: Theories of Power and Resistance in the Americas, Department of American Studies (Fall 2017).
Writing in American Studies, Department of American Studies (Spring 2015).
Prisons and Punishment in American Society, Department of American Studies, Cross-listed with Sociology (Spring 2015 and Spring 2018).
Introduction to American Studies, Department of American Studies (Fall 2014 and Spring 2018).
Latina/o Studies, Department of American Studies, Cross-listed with Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (Spring 2014, Fall 2014).
Black and Latinx Intersections: Race and Power in the U.S., Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, Cross-listed with African & African American Studies, Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, and Romance Studies (Spring 2017).
Policing Latinidad: From Border Wars to Mass Incarceration, Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, Cross-listed with Sociology, Public Policy, and Romance Studies (Fall 2016 and Fall 2015).
Capstone Seminar: Queer Latino/a Studies, Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, Cross-listed with Women’s Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies and Romance Studies (Spring 2016).
Puerto Rico Syllabus
I worked with Yarimar Bonilla (Rutgers University) and Sarah Molinari (CUNY Graduate Center) to develop the Puerto Rico Syllabus, a digital syllabus project that compiles essential primary and secondary sources for understanding the contemporary debt crisis in Puerto Rico. The #PRSyllabus grew out of the Unpayable Debt working group at Columbia University led by Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Sarah Muir, and is the first in a series of public syllabi to be released by the working group.
We hope that this resource can serve as a springboard for discussion and analysis of how the debt crisis is affecting the lives and futures of millions of Puerto Ricans across the territory and in the diaspora. As educators committed to social justice, we hope that this syllabus project not only educates a greater public about what is occurring in Puerto Rico, but also serves as a call to action against the imposition of even greater neoliberal austerity measures, which will only increase harm and insecurity in the lives of more and more Puerto Ricans.
“It Is Time to Transform, Not Just Rebuild, in Puerto Rico,” co-written with Hilda Lloréns for Truthout, September 27, 2017.
“Congress could help Puerto Rico recover. What's stopping it?,” written for The Guardian, September 27, 2017.
“The lines between race, capital and state violence in Puerto Rico,” interview with Chuck Mertz for WNUR’s This Is Hell, April 27, 2019.
“Marisol LeBrón on Anti-colonial Abolitionist Praxis,” interview with Cathy Hannabach for the Imagine Otherwise Podcast, March 14, 2019.
Interviewed by Scott LaMar about the impact of Hurricane Maria and the Puerto Rican debt crisis for WITF’s Smart Talk, April 2, 2018.
Interviewed by Doug Henwood about how Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is shaping hurricane recovery efforts for KPFA’s Behind the News, October 5, 2017.
“Policing and Recovery in Puerto Rico,” interview with Helen Hazelwood Isaac for the NACLA Podcast, October 2, 2017.
“Austerian Disaster,” interview with Daniel Denvir for The Dig (Jacobin Podcast), September 29, 2017.
“What To Do About The Disaster In Puerto Rico,” interview with Esty Dinur for WORT Community Radio’s Public Affairs, September 29, 2017.
Interviewed by Joe Donahue about effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico for WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s The Roundtable, September 28, 2017.
“Trump Sees Devastated Puerto Rico as Captive Market,” interview with Aaron Maté for The Real News Network, September 28, 2017.
Interviewed by Frank Stasio for WUNC North Carolina Public Radio's The State of Things, October 10, 2016.
Upcoming Talks & Events
Aftershocks of Disaster: Book Launch, The Latinx Project, New York University, Wednesday, September 18 @ 5pm.
“Policing Life and Death,” Project on Public Leadership and Action, Wellesley College, October 2.
“A Conversation on Racial Formation and Colonialism in Puerto Rico” with Ileana Rodriguez Silva and Marisol LeBrón, Intersections on Global Blackness and Latinx Identity working group, The University of Florida, October 10.
Panelist, Resisting Carceral Empire: Rethinking American Studies, American Studies Association annual conference (Honolulu, Hawai'i), Saturday, November 9 @ 2:00 - 3:45pm, Hawai'i Convention Center, Mtg Rm 304 B