Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

Jana Lipman

Associate Professor - History

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Department Affiliation


My first book told the history of the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) from the point of view of Cuban base workers. Based on rich and previously untapped regional Cuban archives, U.S. government documents, and oral histories, Guantánamo argued that historians must “count” working people as diplomatic actors and that overseas military bases are critical nodes of political power. Guantánamo was a prize-winning book, reviewed in the London Review of Books and numerous scholarly journals, and adopted in graduate and undergraduate courses across the country. After publication, I was asked to be an advisor to the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, a traveling exhibit which brought questions related to U.S. empire, U.S-Cuban relations, refugee camps, and post-9/11 detention practices to more than a dozen universities and communities. I initiated bringing this exhibit to Tulane and the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in 2014, and organized three months of on-campus and community events related to Cuba, migration, and human rights.

Although my work now focuses more on Southeast Asia, it continues to engage with questions, which have relevance for the Caribbean, namely the legacies of U.S. empire and migrations between the Caribbean and the United States. To this end, I spearheaded two collaborative projects that included substantial Latin American content. First, I co-edited American Quarterly’s Special Issue “Tours of Duty and Tours of Leisure,” which investigates the interconnected relationships between the military and tourism. This included soliciting, selecting, and editing the Special Issue, which included an essay on understanding child adoptions in Guatemala and unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America in the same frame, an article on the legacies of slavery in Jamaica’s tourist industry, and a review on early American borderlands and travelogues. Second, I co-edited Making the Empire Work: Labor and U.S. Imperialism (NYU Press, 2015), which was the first book-length volume to conceptualize U.S. empire through its network of workers and labor. It too contained substantive essays on the United Fruit Company in Guatemala and Costa Rica, a banana massacre in Colombia, coffee workers in El Salvador, and Caribbean migrants throughout the region. In both cases, my expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean enabled these projects to recognize the relationships between U.S.-Latin America and the legacies of U.S. economic and military power elsewhere. (My co-collaborators largely studied the U.S. and the Pacific).

I continue to write about Caribbean topics and mentor graduate students in Latin American Studies. I recently wrote an essay for Modern American History on Haitian refugees in the United States and an article about the Cuban representations of “Guantánamo” in its state run media. Next year, I plan to write a new article on British Guyanese MP Bernie Grant and his support for Hong Kong Chinese citizenship petitions. My expertise on the Caribbean is also recognized by senior colleagues, and this fall, I was invited to provide extensive commentary to Harvard University’s Global American Studies post-doctoral students, one studying Caribbean and Central American refugees and the other religion and race-making in Hispaniola. At Tulane, I mentor graduate students studying U.S.-Cuban relations, Puerto Rican hurricane relief efforts, the Latinx population in New Orleans, and Latin American economic overtures to the Gulf Coast cities during the Cold War.

  • B.A., Brown University, History, 1996.
  • M.A., Yale University, History, 2001
  • M.Phil., Yale University, History, 2003.
  • Ph.D., Yale University, History, 2006
Academic Experience
  • Associate Professor, Tulane University, 2012-
  • Assistant Professor, Tulane University, 2008-2012
  • Assistant Professor, St. Joseph’s College, 2006-2008

Research & Teaching Specializations: U.S. Foreign Relations, History of Empire, Cuba, Caribbean

Related Experience
  • Advisor, Guantanamo Public Memory Project, 2011-
  • Big Onion Tour Company, New York, NY, 2005-2006
  • Graduate Employee and Student Organization (GESO), 2000-2006
  • New Hampshire Democratic Party, Lebanon, NH, 2002
  • NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project, 1998-2000
  • US Peace Corps, St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean, 1996-1998
  • Constance Rourke Essay Prize for the best article published in American Quarterly 2012, 2013
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Research Travel Grant, 2011
  • General and Mrs. Matthew B. Ridgway Military History Research Grant, US Army Military History Institute, 2010
  • Co-Winner, Taft Prize in Labor History, 2009
  • Nota Bene Book, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2009
  • Newcomb Fellow Travel Grant, 2009
  • Committee on Research Tulane Summer Research Grant, 2009
  • George Washington Egleston Prize, Yale University, 2007
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Creole
Overseas Experience
  • Cuba
  • Jamaica
  • Lesser Antilles
Selected Publications
  • 2018. “Immigrant and Black in Edwdige Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying,” Forum: Nation of Immigrants, Modern American History.
  • 2018. “Where is Guantánamo in Granma? Competing Discourses on Detention and Terrorism.” Guantánamo and the Empire of Freedom: Politics and the Humanities at a Global Crossroads. Edited by Don Walicek and Jessica Adams. Palgrave McMillan Press.
  • 2018. “War, Persecution, and Displacement: U.S. Refugee Policy Since 1945.” At War: Militarism and U.S. Culture in the 20th Century and Beyond. Edited by David Kieran and Edwin A. Martini. Rutgers University Press.
  • 2016. “Tours of Duty/Tours of Leisure: The Politics and Cultures of Militarism and Tourism.” With Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez and Teresia Teaiwa. American Quarterly.
  • 2015. Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism. With Daniel Bender. New York: NYU Press.
  • 2014. “A Refugee Camp in America; Fort Chaffee and Vietnamese and Cuban Refugees, 1975-1982,” Journal of American Ethnic History.
  • 2013. “‘The Fish Trusts the Water, and it is in the water that it is cooked’: The Caribbean Origins of the Krome Detention Center,” Radical History Review Special Issue on “Haiti and the World.”
  • 2012. “‘Give Us a Ship’: Vietnamese Repatriates on Guam, 1975,” American Quarterly 64.1: 1-31.
  • 2011. “‘The Face is the Roadmap’: Vietnamese Amerasians in U.S. Political and Popular Culture, 1980-1988,” Journal of Asian American Studies, 14.1: 33-68.
  • 2009. Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • 2009. “Guantánamo and the Case of Kid Chicle: Labor, Privatization, and the Law in the Expansion of US Empire.” In Transitions and Transformations in the US Imperial State. Alfred McCoy and Francisco Scarano, eds. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.
  • 2008. “Buenos Vecinos”, Ciudadanos y Súbditos: Nacionalidad y Competencia Laboral en la Base Naval de Estados Unidos en Guantánamo.‘€ Trans. Rolando García Milián. In Memorias del VII Taller Internacional de Problemas Teóricos y Prácticos de la Historia Regional y Local (Urbana). La Habana, Cuba-Chapingo, Mexico: Instituto de Historia de Cuba, Universidad de Chapingo.

Recently-Taught Latin American-Related Courses: HIST-1910-01: Rebellion & Crime in Latin America

Number of Dissertations or Theses Supervised in the Past 5 Years: 2

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Departmental Biography





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Upcoming Events

Online Latinx Speaker Series

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This speaker series was developed by Professor Caballero as part of her class, Introduction to Latinx Studies. It is designed to share the diversity and contributions of the local New Orleans Latinx community. Each speaker shares their perspective on a wide array of important topics relating to community and the city. In order to attend these online events, please REGISTER HERE

  • Thursday, September 17th – Rafael Delgadillo, PhD Candidate at UC-Santa Cruz in Latin American and Latino Studies
  • Thursday, October 1st – Leticia Casilda, Familia Unidas en Acción Familias Unidas en Acción was founded in 2018 with the vision of providing immigrant families in the greater New Orleans area and Louisiana with the resources needed to thrive in a new community without forgetting their own culture and history. We are the only community organization in New Orleans and Louisiana primarily focused on providing shelter and transitional support to recently arrived immigrant families. Our membership is made up of impacted immigrant families who believe that our families and children deserve equal opportunities, respect as human beings, access to their histories and culture, and to be acknowledged as productive members of society.
  • Thursday October 15 – Fermín Ceballos, musician and writer – Fermín Ceballos is a tri-lingual Afro-Dominican songwriter, musician, bandleader, composer, actor, and poet living and creating art in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied art & music at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) and was a professor of music for the Dominican Republic Secretary of State for Culture National School System. His primary musical instruments are the accordion, guitar, piano, and voice. Fermín continually works on several musical projects in the Gulf South and the US; such as Merengue4-FOUR, a musical project focused on Dominican Music (Bachata & Merengue Típico), Fermín‘€™s Latin Fusion Orchestra performing original salsa inspired compositions, and Fermín Acústico a musical concept based on guitar and voice. With all his projects, he performs original compositions based on his fusion of different sounds and musical rhythms. In 2019, he released his first book of poems in Spanish and English entitled Pisando Mi Sombra (Walking My Shadow).
  • Thursday, October 29th – Christopher Louis Romaguera. Romaguera is Cuban-American writer who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born in Hialeah, Florida and graduated from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Romaguera has been published in The Daily Beast, Curbed National, Peauxdunque Review, New Orleans Review, PANK Magazine and other publications. He is a monthly columnist at The Ploughshares Blog. He has an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans.
  • Thursday, November 12th TBD

For more information, please contact 504.865.5164.