Coleman, Kevin P.

Assistant Professor Historical Studies - History

Contact Information

NE 4280
Mailing Address: 
3359 Mississauga Rd.
Postal Code: 
L5L 1C6
Office Hours: 

Kevin Coleman is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in the history of U.S.-Latin American encounters and visual culture. His recent articles and book chapters examine the intersection between photography, neocolonialism, labor history, and theorizing ways to read political subjectivities through visual archives.

In his first book, A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic, he argues that the “banana republic” was an imperial constellation of images and practices that was locally checked and contested by the people of the Honduran town of El Progreso, where the United Fruit Company had one of its main divisional offices. As banana plantation workers, women, and peasants posed for pictures and, more emblematically, as they staged the General Strike of 1954, they forged new ways of being while also visually asserting their rights as citizens.

Similar issues animate his teaching. Coleman offers surveys of Latin American history and advanced undergraduate seminars organized around a variety of themes, including the development of popular political cultures and nation-state formation, religion and the region’s encounter with the United States. His graduate offerings examine the role that photography and other visual technologies have played in shaping understandings of self, nation, and race in several national and transnational contexts. 

Coleman’s research and teaching interests derive in part from the years that he spent working alongside people who were trying to get some good things done in their communities. Before pursuing graduate studies, he taught introductory philosophy classes at Navajo Community College in New Mexico. He then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Honduras, living and working with campesinos and developing friendships that continue to this day. The years that he spent with his sleeves rolled up continue to inform his research and teaching.



A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of the Banana Republic (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016).

Selected Articles

The Right Not to Be Looked At.” Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe, 25, no. 2 (2015): 43-63.

The Photos We Don’t Get to See: Sovereignties, Archives, and the 1928 Massacre of Banana Workers in Colombia,” in Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialismedited by Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman (New York: New York University Press, 2015), pp. 104-136.

An abbreviated version of this chapter was published as "Las fotos que no alcanzamos a ver: Soberanías, archivos y la masacre de trabajadores bananeros de 1928 en Colombia," in Fotografía e historia en América Latina, edited by John Mraz and Ana María Mauad (Montevideo: Centro de fotografía de Montevideo, 2015), pp. 149-174, translated by Juan Pablo Bermúdez Reyes.

Photographs of a Prayer: The (Neglected) Visual Archive and Latin American Labor History.” Hispanic American Historical Review, 95, no. 3 (2015): 459-492.

A Camera in the Garden of Eden.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 20, no. 1 (2011): 61-94.

An expanded version of this article was published as “Una óptica igualitaria_Autorretratos, construcción del ser y encuentro homo-social en una plantación bananera en HondurasDiálogos, 15, no. 2 (2014), translated by David Díaz Arias.

Entre la Historia y la Trascendencia: El Padre Guadalupe Carney y la lucha por la reforma agraria en Honduras,” Boletín AFEHC—Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica, 44 (2010): 27 ms pages.

This article was republished in English as “Between History and Transcendence_Father Guadalupe Carney and the Struggle for Agrarian Reform in Honduras,” OPSIS, 14 (2014), 429-448.

La fotografía y la construcción del sujeto hondureño moderno_Envío_Kevin Coleman.” (Photography and the Construction of the Modern Honduran Subject”). Envío-Honduras, 18 (2008): 27-35.

La pedagogía de la burla: Entre los binarios históricos en El estrecho dudoso” (The Pedagogy of Sarcasm: Between Historical Binaries in El estrecho dudoso”). Istmo, 13 (2006): 21 ms pages.


Public History

Coordinator, Latin American Research Group, a network of Toronto-based scholars who come together on a monthly basis to discuss their work in progress, 2014-2015.

This article was translated by Basta de Casaca as “Honduras: Una oportunidad para la verdadera democracia.”

Selected Awards

  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant, 2014-2019.
  • University of Toronto, Connaught New Researcher Award, 2014-2015.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Institutional Grant, 2013 – 2015 
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship.
  • Practical Idealist, The Shriver Peaceworker Program. University of Maryland.
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (DDRA).                                                 
  • Samuel F. Bemis Research Grant, The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).

Research Interests

Modern Latin American History; Central America; U.S.-Latin American Relations; Visual Culture; Political Culture


Current Courses: 
Introduction to Latin American History; Politics and Political Change in Latin America; Graduate Course: Images as History: Photography, Historical Method, and Conceptualizing Visuality
Ph.D. Indiana University, 2012