Javier Puente

Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino/a Studies; Chair of Latin American and Latino/a Studies

Javier Puente

Contact & Office Hours

Spring 2023
Wednesdays 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; and by appointment

Hillyer Hall 313



Ph.D., M.A., Georgetown University

B.H., Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú


Javier Puente is an interdisciplinary scholar of Andean environments and campesino politics. Prior to Smith he held academic appointments at Lehigh University and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Trained as a historian of the Andes at Georgetown, he has spent the last decade researching and teaching about the trajectories of Latin American agrarian reforms, the land struggles of campesinos and, more recently, their experiences of socioenvironmental suffering.

Puente’s first book, The Rural State: Making Comunidades, Campesinos, and Conflict in Peru’s Central Sierra (University of Texas Press, 2022), recasts Peruvian and Andean 20th-century nation- state making as a rurally grounded process from a local perspective. Contrasting conventional views on the political and economic aspects of state and nation building, largely centered on urban and nationwide developments, The Rural State argues that the dynamics of power and production were structured through the clash of ideas concerning upland environments, agrarian resources, and the socioeconomic identities and relations that shaped rural life. Drawing on the trajectories of the Atocsaico hacienda and the campesinos of San Juan de Ondores, The Rural State offers a fine- grained view of rural Peru throughout the 20th century. His second book-length project, tentatively titled Children of Collapse: El Niño and the Making of Andean Livelihoods, reconstructs how peoples and places of the southern central Peruvian Andes have experienced, endured, and adapted to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Combining archival resources, ethnographic accounts and climatological data, this study evaluates a major environmental phenomenon within a two-century narrative of internal conflict and civil strife.

Puente’s teaching interests focus on Andean history and environmental history, the agrarian question in Latin America, insurrectionary and revolutionary processes, the intersection of ecological transformations and sociopolitical conflicts, and the material roots of rural violence. He is broadly interested in the centrality of the agrarian countryside in the making of the modern world and how global forces shape everything rural. In recent years, he has become increasingly concerned about the relationship between the lives of rural peoples and how they make sense of their changing environments. In 2002, the Student Government Association at Smith College distinguished him with the annual Faculty Teaching Award for junior faculty members.

Several publications reflect a wider array of interests beyond Puente’s focal area of expertise, such as the institutionalization of collective memory in post-conflict societies, the ethnographic value of campesino archives, the cult of heroes and the rise of military nationalism, the transforming role of European animals in the Andes, the relationship between agrarian reform and capitalism, the territorialization of sociopolitical conflict and internal warfare, and the correlations between environmental “disasters” and political violence. These pieces have been published in the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Research, Radical History Review, and Global Environment, HALAC, among others.

Puente’s research has been funded and supported by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the John Carter Brown Library, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Lehigh University, the Program of Latin American Libraries and Archives at Harvard University, Georgetown University’s Center of Latin American Studies, and the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History.

Selected Publications


PUENTE, Javier. The Rural State: Making Comunidades, Campesinos, and Conflict in Peru’s Central SierraAustin: University of Texas Press, 2022.

Edited Volumes and Special Issues

Modelando Regiones Naturales: Capitalismo, Medio Ambiente y la Geografía del Perú Pos-Colonial. Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña, 12:3, 2022.

The Environmental and Ecological Impacts of Guerrilla and Irregular Warfare. Global Environment, 14:1, 2021.


PUENTE, Javier and Adrián LERNER. “Modelando Regiones Naturales: Capitalismo, Medio Ambiente y la Geografía del Perú Pos-Colonial,” in: Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña, 12:3, December 2022, pp. 20-27.

PUENTE, Javier.“Monumentos de papel: la narrativa histórica del Gobierno Revolucionario de la Fuerza Armada,” in: Grecia Barbieri and Gonzalo Benavente, eds. La revolución imaginada, pp. 45-50. Lima: Debate/Penguin Random House, 2021.

PUENTE, Javier. "Irregular Conflicts, Disrupted Ecologies: The Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Warfare in the Global South,” in: Global Environment, 14:1, pp. 7-14.

PUENTE, Javier. “The Enduring Climate of Conflict: Drought, Impoverishment, and the Long Aftermath of Civil War in Peru,” in: Global Environment, 2021, 14:1, pp. 146-179.

PUENTE, Javier. “De comunero a campesino: el ‘corto siglo veinte’ en el campo peruano, 1920-1969,” in: Investigaciones Históricas, 40, December 2020, pp. 9-26.

PUENTE, Javier. “Tierra para el que la trabaja: El Proyecto 206 y la circulación de conocimiento agrario en América Latina, 1964-1974,” in: Fernando Purcell and Ricardo Arias, eds., Circulaciones, Chile: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2020, pp. 229-254.

PUENTE, Javier. “The Military Grammar of Agrarian Reform in Peru: Campesinos and Rural Capitalism,” in: Radical History Review, 133, January 2019, 78-101.

PUENTE, Javier. “Una guerra de ocupación: la territorialización del Conflicto Armado Interno en Perú, 1981-1986,” in: Revista Folia Histórica del Nordeste, 32, May - August 2018, pp. 175-197.

PUENTE, Javier. “Making Peru’s Sendero Luminoso: The Mega Niño of 1982-1983,” in: Age of Revolutions.

PUENTE, Javier. “Livestock, Livelihood and Agrarian Change in Andean Peru,” in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, February 2018, 30 p.

PUENTE, Javier. “La ‘masacre’ de Ondores: reforma, comunidad y violencia en la Sierra Central (1969-1979),” in: Revista Argumentos, 4:10, pp. 23-30.

PUENTE, Javier. “Second Independence, National History, and Myth-Making Heroes in the Peruvian Nationalizing State: The Government of Juan Velasco Alvarado, 1968-1975,” in: Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, 23:3, December 2016, pp. 231-249.

PUENTE, Javier. “Archivos Campesinos: San Juan de Ondores, Actas Comunales e Historias Rurales en el Perú, 1937-2012,” in: Carlos Aguirre and Javier Villa Flores, eds. From the Ashes of History: Loss and Recovery of Archives and Libraries in Modern Latin America. North Carolina: A Contracorriente Press, 2015, pp. 267-306.

PUENTE, Javier. “El Problema del Museo como Espacio de Representación: de Benedict Anderson al Lugar de la Memoria en el Perú,” in: Juan Andrés Bresciano, ed. La Memoria Histórica y sus Configuraciones Temáticas. Montevideo: Ediciones Cruz del Sur, 2014, pp. 565-582.