Dr. Marisol LeBrón is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 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

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 also one of the co-creators and project leaders for the Puerto Rico Syllabus (#PRsyllabus), a digital resource for understanding the Puerto Rican debt crisis.

Follow her on Twitter @marisollebron



Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2019).

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

"Carpeteo Redux: Surveillance and Subversion Against the Puerto Rican Student Movement, Radical History Review (2017).

"They Don't Care If We Die: The Violence of Urban Policing in Puerto Rico, Journal of Urban History (2017).

"Mano Dura Contra El Crimen and Premature Death in Puerto Rico," in Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (2016).

“Policing Solidarity: State Violence, Blackness, and the University of Puerto Rico Strikes” Souls: A Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society (2015).

“‘Con un Flow Natural’: Sonic Affinities and Reggaeton Nationalism,” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory (2011).

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).

Other writing

“Eye of the Storm,” editors’ introduction co-authored with Laura Weiss and Michelle Chase, NACLA Report on the Americas (2018).

“Resisting Debt and Colonial Disaster in Post-Maria Puerto Rico,” co-authored with Javier Arbona, The Funambulist (2018).

“Puerto Rico and the Colonial Circuits of Policing” NACLA Report on the Americas (2016).

“People Before Debt: Puerto Ricans Confront the Island's Debt Crisis From Below,” NACLA Report on the Americas (2016).

“Diaspora, Insular Expertise, and the War Over War Against All Puerto Ricans,” La Respuesta: A Magazine to (Re)Imagine the Boricua Diaspora (published online on November 19, 2015).

“Oscar López Rivera and the Case for Prison Abolition,” La Respuesta: A Magazine to (Re)Imagine the Boricua Diaspora (published online on October 7, 2014).

“Neocolonial Policing in Puerto Rico,” NACLA Report on the Americas (2012).

"The Reggaetón Factor in the U.S. Elections," North American Congress on Latin America (published online on October 21, 2008).

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

Buying Options

University of California Press



Powell’s Books


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).

Dickinson College

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).

Photo by Neal Vaidya for the Duke  Chronicle .

Photo by Neal Vaidya for the Duke Chronicle.

Duke University

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


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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.

You can follow the #PRsyllabus on Facebook and Twitter the latest updates and news.



“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.


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



“Making Death Count(s) in the Colony,” paper being presenting on the opening plenary session Anthropological Perspectives on Colonialism, Economic Crisis, and Disaster in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican Studies Association Biennial Conference (Rutgers University), Friday, October 26 @ 8:30am-10am.


Panelist, Critical Ethnic Studies Committee: Academic Labor, Austerity, and Authoritarianism, American Studies Association annual conference (Atlanta, GA), Friday, November 9 @ 10am-11:45am.

“Counting Death and Making Death Count: Puerto Rico before and after Maria,” paper being presenting on the panel Temporalities of Catastrophe, American Studies Association annual conference (Atlanta, GA), Saturday, November 10 @ 12pm-1:45pm