Alec Dawson

Professor of History and International Studies

On leave from August 1, 2017 - August 31, 2018


Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, Latin American History (1997)
M.A. University of Calgary, History (1991)
B.A. University of Calgary, History (1989)

Areas of Interest

Professor Dawson is a historian of Modern Mexico. He is currently working on a book titled Peyote Wars, which examines the ways peyote, whiteness, and indigeneity have been linked over time in Mexico and the United States by indigenous peoples, ecclesiastical authorities, government officials, and others. It also explores the ways in which the boundaries created around peyote and policed by various authorities have been blurred or crossed by a variety of actors since the colonial period. These crossings tell us a great deal about the ways in which the distinctions between Indian and non have been unstable over time, and offer important insights into contemporary debates about indigenous cultures and rights. It shows a history that is lost or marginalized in the fastidious claim to absolute difference, and offers a vision of what might be a less rigid form of identity politics.

Research and Teaching

Colonial and Modern Latin America, Race and Gender in Latin American History, Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, The History of Drugs, Historical Methods.

Lower Division teaching

  • HIST/IS 209 Latin America: The National Period
  • HIST/IS 265: Global History from the Revolutionary Age to the Present

Upper Division teaching

  • IS/HIST 358 Development, Aid and Difference in Historical Perspective
  • HIST 455 Race in the Americas
  • HIST 458 Problems in Latin American Regional History
  • HiST 459 Problems in the Political and Social History Latin America

Graduate Teaching

  • IS/LAS 800 Approaches to Research in Latin American Studies

Selected Publications


Peyote Wars (forthcoming, under contract with the University of California Press).

Latin America Since Independence: A History with Primary Sources, 2nd Edition. (New York: Routledge, 2014).

First World Dreams: Mexico Since 1989. (London: Zed Books, 2006).

Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004).

Journal Articles

“Salvador Roquet, Maria Sabina, and the Trouble with Jipis”, under review at the Hispanic American Historical Review.

"Histories and Memories of the Indian Boarding Schools in Mexico, Canada, and the United States", Latin American Perspectives, Volume 39, September 2012, pp. 80-99.

"PAN Para Todos: Elections, Democracy, and the Right in Contemporary Mexico", in Right-wing politics in the New Latin America, edited by Francisco Dominguez, Dr. Geraldine Lievesley, and Steve Ludlam, London: Zed, 2011, pp. 63-77.

"El peyote y la autodeterminación a lo largo de la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México, desde Pátzcuaro hasta Avándaro", in La ambivalente historia del indigenismo: campo interamericano y trayectorias nacionales, 1940-1970. Laura Giraudo y Juan Martín Sánchez, eds. Lima, Peru: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2011, pp. 159-190.

"'Wild Indians,' 'Mexican Gentlemen,' and the Lessons Learned in the Casa del Estudiante Indigena, 1926-1932." The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, 58:1, January 2001, pp. 21-53.

"From Models for the Nation to Model Citizens: Indigenismo and the 'Revindication' of The Mexican Indian 1920-1940," Journal of Latin American Studies, 30:1998, pp. 279-308.

Grants & Awards

  • Workshop Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2011-2012
  • Cormack Award for Excellence in Teaching, Simon Fraser University, 2011
  • Standard Research Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2007-2010
  • Scholarship and Creativity Grant for the Advancement of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Montana State University, 1999-2000
  • Research and Creativity Grant, Montana State University, 1998
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 1993-95