Roosbelinda Cardenas

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies
Roosbelinda Cárdenas
Contact Roosbelinda

Mail Code CSI
Roosbelinda Cardenas
Franklin Patterson Hall 206
413.559.5598

On sabbatical spring 2023.


Roosbelinda Cárdenas holds a B.A. in economics and anthropology/sociology from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in Latin American studies from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her teaching and research focuses on identity and rights for Afro-descendants in Latin America and social theory of race and racism, social movements, place and displacement, and human rights. She takes an engaged ethnographic approach to teaching and is particularly interested in the intersections of knowledge production and activism.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • This course is designed to introduce students to the shared histories as well as the cultural and This This course will introduce students to the shared histories and cultural and geographic diversity of the region we call Latin America. By surveying different disciplinary approaches (anthropology, political science, history, cultural studies and journalism) as well as by exploring film, music, literature and policy produced within the region, students will be exposed to numerous ways to think about Latin America and will observe how Latin American artists, writers and intellectuals represent their nations and cultures to themselves and to the world. We will first overview the transformations that Latin American societies have undergone since European colonization to become the complex nations they are today. Then, we will analyze some of the most pressing contemporary issues that Latin American nations face today. Specifically, we will demystify poverty and crime, historicize racism and gender inequalities, and critically analyze the role of the United States in shaping Latin American economies and politics. Keywords: Latin America, race, nation, empire, culture

  • This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. This course is open to all, though it is best suited to students beyond their first semester of study. The class will be conducted in English, with many readings available in Spanish and English. Papers may be submitted in either language. This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. This course is open to all, though it is best suited to students beyond their first semester of study. The class will be conducted in English, with many readings available in Spanish and English. Papers may be submitted in either language. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana January term program, this required course will offer critical foundational knowledge. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana January term program, this required course will offer critical foundational knowledge.

  • In this course, we will explore the histories of organizing to dismantle the racist underpinnings of colleges and universities in the U.S. Drawing on a range of resources, students will explore the challenges of documenting institutional racism in Higher Education by exploring social contestation on several selected campuses, including Hampshire College. We will pay particular attention to the range of demands, agreements, and anti-racist plans developed as a result of campus activism. Key components of our examination include: utilizing an intersectional lens, exploring how race intersects with gender and sexual identities, as well as strategies for building multi-racial solidarities. Students will learn to utilize a range of historical and social science methodologies. The aim is to produce a group project that accesses Hampshire Colleges current Anti-Racist Inventory/Plan and makes suggestions for future institutional actions. Keywords: history, ethnography, race, ethnicity, diversity

  • No description available

  • The idea of whiteness structures our societies in myriad ways that go from the aesthetic, to the economic and political, defining standards of beauty, mechanisms for the transfer of wealth, and criteria for national belonging, to name a few examples. While it is well-known that whiteness is a social construct (rather than a scientific "truth), it continues to rest on and reproduce biologized notions of human difference that resonate with historical forms of racism and perpetuate it in new forms today. As the structuring pillar of racial difference around which racial Others are defined and judged, whiteness continues to be conspicuously invisible. In this course, we will analyze the historical and contemporary construction of whiteness and its consequences in various areas of social and political life. Importantly, we will not restrict our exploration to the United States, but rather will consider whiteness (in its different iterations) as a global phenomenon with a particular focus on the Americas. (keywords: sociology, anthropology, literature, film & media studies, critical race theory)