Oliver Murphey

Undergraduate Discipline


MPhil, Cambridge University. Specific interest in US political history, international relations, development, and Latin America in the  20th century. Work focuses mainly on US-Latin American relations during the Cold War, especially Washington's support for the Bolivian revolution—the subject of his forthcoming book. Based on his dissertation, "A Bond That Will Permanently Endure," the book explores Bolivian diplomats' efforts to manage the revolution's relationship with the US while enacting sweeping economic and social change. The book also seeks to understand US officials' understanding of the role of US power in Latin America and its relationship to nationalism and to leftist political movements during some of the most tense years of the Cold War. Previously taught at CUNY and SUNY institutions. SLC, 2017-

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018


Latin American Revolutions: 1910-2017

Open , Seminar—Spring

During the 20th century, revolutions brought ambitious and often wrenching changes to Latin American societies. Economic upheaval, political polarization, and competing visions of freedom and justice shaped the struggles to transform these societies and reactions against the forces of revolution. The course will examine revolutionary projects in three key locations: Central America, the Andes, and Mexico. What conditions caused revolution in these places? What explains their successes and failures? How have historians’ understanding of their legacy changed over time? These polarizing political projects and visions of a just and prosperous society and of race and gender relations continue to shape Latin America and are still contested to this day. From the protests of Chilean students and Venezuelan workers to indigenous Bolivian communities and the Cuban political elite, Latin Americans continue to grapple with the legacy of revolutionary movements and histories that continue to inspire, threaten, and provoke devotion and resistance to their notions of justice, distribution of resources, and the exercise of power. The course will look at personal and historical narratives, film, music, and political treatises to examine efforts to bring revolutionary change to Latin America.


Latin America’s Cold War

Open , Seminar—Fall

The Cold War was a global struggle that was waged with particular intensity and with violent consequences for the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Cuban revolution and missile crisis brought Latin America’s Cold War and its potentially catastrophic consequences to the attention of the world. Though nuclear war was avoided, the second half of the 20th century was full of violent political struggle, revolution, and counter-revolution fueled by the ideologies and strategic interests of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union. Though Cuba marked an important episode in the heating up of superpower conflicts in the region, the Cold War had much deeper roots and consequences for the region. This course seeks to understand the Cold War and what it meant for Latin American societies and inter-American relations. It explores to what extent the Cold War is a useful concept to help understand Latin American politics and people and their relationship to the outside world in the 20th century. The course is divided into two distinct sections. The first section deals with the Cold War and ideas of empire or hegemony. It focuses on case studies of outside interventions and influences on Latin America, centered on Cold War ideology and geostrategy. It also builds on more recent scholarship that seeks to de-center or reconceptualize the Cold War in our understanding of the history of the region. The second section explores revolutions, coups, and political struggles from a Latin American perspective, while also considering alternative frameworks for understanding the historical experience of Latin America and its governments, citizens, and institutions. The course will examine the Cold War legacies still being played out in regional politics and movements for truth and reconciliation, while also examining the extent to which the Cold War left its imprint on the rise of neoliberal institutions and ideologies of development, the creation and impact of a discourse of human rights, and increased cross-border flows of people and goods, both licit and illicit.