Assistant Professor Mir Yarfitz
Latin American History, Gender and Sexuality, Modern Jewish History
Office: Tribble B4
Mir Yarfitz has lived in each of the four corners of the country as well as South and Central America. His enthusiasm for Latin America grew from his college study abroad experience in Nicaragua, a Fulbright in Argentina, and work with migrant farmworker labor unions in Washington, Oregon, and Georgia. Teaching and research interests include US-Latin American relations, cultural production, social movements, dictatorship and resistance, racial hierarchies, migration, gender, sexuality, and masculinity. He is currently revising his dissertation into a book manuscript about the role of immigrant Ashkenazi Jews in organized prostitution in Buenos Aires between the 1890s and 1930s and in broader transnational flows of sex workers and moral opposition.
B.A. Reed College 2000
M.A. UCLA 2005
Ph.D. UCLA 2012
Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, 2013-
Adjunct Professor, UCLA, Spring 2013
Adjunct Professor, California State University – Long Beach, 2012-13
Adjunct Professor, Mount St. Mary’s College, Fall 2012
Click here for CV.
o “Sociedad Varsovia as Voluntary Society: Mutual Aid among Jewish Pimps in Buenos Aires, 1906-1930,” Journal of Latin American Studies (forthcoming).
o “Uprooting the Seeds of Evil: Ezras Noschim and Jewish Marriage Regulation, Morality Certificates, and Degenerate Prostitute Mothers in 1930s Buenos Aires,” pp. 55-80 in The New Jewish Argentina: Facets of Jewish Experiences in the Southern Cone, eds. Adriana Brodsky and Raanan Rein, (Leiden: Brill, 2012). The book received the 2013 Latin American Jewish Studies Association’s Best Book Award.
o “Prosopografía Proxeneta: Inmigración Judía, Socorros Mutuos y Comercio Sexual en Argentina, 1906-1930,” pp. 67-92 in Marginados y Consagrados: Nuevos Estudios Sobre los Judios Argentinos, eds. Emmanuel Kahan, Laura Schenquer, Damián Setton, and Alejandro Dujovne (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Lumiere, 2011).
o “Masculinity: Latin America,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, vol. 5, ed. Peter Stearns (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); pp. 74-76.
For full list of publications, see CV.
108 – Americas and the World
The historical narratives you learned in high school and at the movies are not the only true stories about the past. This course explores the history of North, South, and Central America with an emphasis on debunking historical myths. We will consider how and why multiple versions of past events get created, why some persist longer than others, and which we each find most convincing. Our myth-busting includes: Conquest; the French, British, and Spanish colonial empires; indigenous resistance; slavery and freedom; piracy; neo-imperialism; immigration; Revolutions; the Cold War; dictatorship; the Drug War. (CD, D)
- HST 284 – Latin America’s Colonial Past
This course explores Latin America’s colonial past from pre-conquest indigenous civilizations to the wars of independence in the early nineteenth century. We will compare popular myths of Conquest to the concepts of Contact and the Columbian Exchange. Although indigenous populations were decimated by European violence and disease, robust communities adapted to their new environment, particularly in the Andes and Mesoamerica. Forced labor, both indigenous and African, often resisted domination, as exemplified in the Haitian Revolution. We will examine the variety of slave systems developed in the Caribbean and South America, and the maturation of other colonial institutions, such as the Inquisition and Catholic Church. The birth of new cultural practices and evolving systems of race, caste, gender and sexuality will be traced through primary sources including native language documents, slave narratives, inquisition records, letters, and castas paintings.
- HST 275 – Modern Latin America
This course surveys the social, political and economic history of postcolonial Latin America, a region that includes Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Our focus will be the formation of independent nation states and political regimes, and the quest for sovereignty and its challenges in the shadow of the United States. We begin with the struggles for independence from colonial rule and the emergence of Latin American nation‑states in the nineteenth century and continue through the present, including the NAFTA free trade regime, the rise of new social movements such as the Zapatistas and the emergence of new populist figures such as Hugo Chávez. We will consider the challenges facing Latin American political regimes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the meaning of national autonomy under the influence of the US, the causes and consequences of state terror, and the experience of revolution from the perspective of everyday life. We will learn to differentiate key structural and stylistic features of Latin American political formations such as order and progress dictatorships, populism, military regimes, and revolutionary movements. A key focus will be U.S. policy towards Latin America, from the Monroe Doctrine through the wars in Central America and neoliberalism, as well as popular resistance. (CD)
- 359. Prostitutes, Machos and Travestis: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Latin American History
Beyond machismo, exoticism, and the virgin-whore dichotomy, this class links contemporary and historical investigation of sexuality and gender in South and Central America and the Caribbean. Prostitution, masculinity, and the transgender continuum will be the core subjects, which we will examine across time and space and from a range of perspectives. Cross-cutting topics will include women’s agency, violence, slavery, revolution, migration, multiple masculinities, queer and indigenous gender alternatives, public health, narcos, and media scapegoating. No particular background is required. (CD)
- 360. Jewish Immigration to the Americas
This course explores Jewish migrations across the Atlantic to the US and Latin America in order to address broader questions about mobility and identity for immigrants and ethnic groups more generally. The class begins with the early migration of Sephardic Jews and crypto-Jews; compares settlement patterns in the British and Spanish colonies; situates mass migrations in the context of modernization in Eastern Europe; compares a series of case studies across the continent in the 1880s-1920s (the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic); considers race, gender, anti-Semitism, class, respectability, and institutional development; and explores the effect of the Holocaust on Jews across the Americas. Each week’s reading will include primary as well as secondary sources, such as fiction, memoir, poetry, film, cartoons, and photography. Student projects will compare the immigration experience in a particular location of Jews with another group, such as Jewish and Japanese migrants to Brazil in the early 20th century.