Avi Chomsky

Professional Details

Title Professor
Department History
Office Sullivan Building 102F
Phone 978.542.6389
Email avi.chomsky@salemstate.edu
Resume Avi Chomsky
Photo of Avi Chomsky

Recent and Upcoming Courses

FYHI 100 First Year Seminar (history)
HST 109H Honors World History
HST 239 History of Latinos in the United States
HST 290 People and Environment in Latin America
HST 378 History of Central America
HST 840 Latinos in the United States

Professional Biography

Much of my scholarly work can be traced back to the year I spent working for the United Farm Workers union back in 1976-77. I credit that experience with sparking my interest in the Spanish language, in migrant workers and immigration, in labor history, in social movements and labor organizing, in multinationals and their workers, in how global economic forces affect individuals, and how people collectively organize for social change.

Professional Interests

My recent work has been in three main areas:  the Cuban revolution, northern Colombia's coal industry, and immigration and undocumentedness in the United States.  Thematically, I incorporate the issues of colonialism, economic development, migration, race, labor, environment, and global inequality.  My book Linked Labor Histories looks at globalization as a long historical process with labor history at its center. It examines how employers have used regional inequalities to gain access to cheaper workers through immigration, plant relocation, and by using the threat of these two tactics to discipline their workers. I focus on several interrelated case studies in New England and Colombia, including the textile industry, the banana industry, and the coal industry, to argue that local labor histories are best understood in a global context. I recently published a brief, analytical college-level text on the Cuban Revolution, and two books on immigration:  They Take Our Jobs!  And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration, and Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal.  My current research weaves together labor and environmental histories, focusing on a region of Colombia where where Indigenous and Afro-descended peoples have long evaded state control.  Today they face an onslaught of extractivist projects, and changing legal and social meanings of race and ethnicity in the context of continent-wide movements for plurinationalism and alternative visions of economic development.


Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies, Salem State University

Selected Publications


Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal.  Beacon Press, 2014 (Indocumentados.  Mexico: Planeta, 2014).

A History of the Cuban Revolution. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.  Second edition, 2015.  (História da revolução Cubana.  Veneta [Brazil], 2015)

Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the Making of a Global Working Class. Duke University Press, 2008.

The People Behind Colombian Coal: Mining, Multinationals and Human Rights/Bajo el manto del carbón: Pueblos y multinacionales en las minas del Cerrejón, Colombia, ed. Aviva Chomsky, Garry Leech and Steve Striffler. Bogotá: Casa Editorial Pisando Callos, 2007.

They Take Our Jobs! And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007.  (¡Nos quitan nuestros trabajos!  y 20 mitos más sobre la inmigración. Haymarket Press, 2011/¡Nos quitan nuestros empleos! y 20 mitos más sobre la inmigración. Editorial Ciencias Sociales [Havana], 2012).

The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Smorkaloff. Duke University Press, 2003.

Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, ed. and introduction by Aviva Chomsky and Aldo Lauria-Santiago. Duke University Press, 1998.

West Indian Workers and the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica, 1870-1940. Louisiana State University Press, 1996.


“A Central American Drama in Four Acts,” in Michele López-Stafford Levy, ed., Children from the Other America: A Crisis of Possibility.  Sense Publishers, 2016.

“Economic Impact of Migrants,” in Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration, ed. Lois Lorentzen.  Praeger Press, 2014.

“Salem as a Global Village,” in National History Day Teacher Resource Book: Internationalizing History, 2013.

“North and South: Struggles over Coal in Colombia and Appalachia,” (with Chad Montrie), in Steve Fisher and Barbara Ellen Smith, eds, Transforming Places:  Lessons in Movement-Building from Appalachia.  University of Illinois Press, 2012.

“Labor History as World History: Linking Regions over Time,” in Leon Fink, ed., Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History.  Oxford University Press, 2011.

“The Logic of Displacement:  Afro-Colombians and the War in Colombia,” in Darién Davis, ed., Beyond Slavery: The Multilayered Legacy of Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007, pp. 171-198.

“Salem as a Global City, 1850-2004,” in Dane Morrison and Nancy Lusignan Schultz, eds., Salem: Place, Myth and Memory.  Northeastern University Press, 2004.

“Laborers and Small-Holders in Costa Rica’s Mining Communities, 1900-1940,” in Chomsky and Lauria-Santiago, eds., Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State.  Duke University Press, 1998.



“Empire, Nature, and the Labor of Coal: Colombia in the Twenty-First Century.” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas (fall 2016).

“Labor and the Environment in Latin America.”  Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (June 2016).  http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.327.

“Social Impacts of Resource Extraction.” Latin American Research Review 51:1 (2016).

“Labor Environmentalism in Colombia and Latin America” (with Steve Striffler).  WorkingUSA (December 2014).

“Empire, Labor, and Environment: Coal Mining and Anticapitalist Environmentalism in the Americas,” (with Steve Striffler).  International Labor and Working-Class History 85 (Spring 2014).

“Labor, Environmental History, and Sugar Cane in Cuba and Brazil.” Social History 38:4 (November 2013).

 “Aviva Chomsky en Uruguay.” Antropología Social y Cultural en Uruguay 11 (2013).

“Inmigración y Economía de EU.”  Mundo Siglo XXI (revista del CIECAS-IPN), Núm. 30, Vol. VIII (2013), 5-25.

“Today’s Deportees.” Race/Ethnicity: Multicultural Global Contexts. 4:2, Special issue on Race and Labor.  (Winter 2011).

 “Poblaciones a través de fronteras soberanas: raza, trabajo, migración y soberanía en el mundo contemporáneo.” Nostromo: Revista Crítica Latinoamericana III:3 (primavera-verano 2010).

“Globalization, Labor and  Violence in  Colombia’s Banana Zone.”  International Labor and Working Class History (November, 2007).

 “‘Barbados or Canada?’  Race, Immigration, and Nation in Early Twentieth Century Cuba.” Hispanic American Historical Review 80:3 (August 2000), 415-462.

“The Aftermath of Repression: Race and Nation in Cuba after 1912.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, December 1998, 1-40.

 “Afro-Jamaican Traditions and Labor Organizing on United Fruit Company Plantations in Costa Rica, 1910.” Journal of Social History 28:4 (Summer 1995), 837-55.

“Recent Historiography of Cuba.” Latin American Research Review 29:3 (Fall 1994), 220-36.

“Labor in Costa Rica's Gold Mines, 1900-1940.” Journal of Third World Studies XI:2 (Fall 1994),  407-39.

“West Indian Workers in Costa Rican Radical and Nationalist Ideology, 1900-1950.” The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History 51:1 (July 1994), 11-40.

Selected Presentations

“Labor and the Left Confront Complex Issues: Climate Change and Immigration,” The American Left: A Workshop, University of New Orleans, March 2016.

“Colombian Coal: Towards a Labor and Environmental History,” Historical Conflicts and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia Conference, Vanderbilt University, March 2016.

“Peripheral Landscapes on the Borders of Empire, Nation-State, and Extractivism:  Colombia’s Wild Northeast,” American Historical Association, Atlanta, January 2016.

“Sintracarbón: A Colombian Coal Union between Empire and Solidarities,” Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference, University of New Orleans, October 2015.

“Labor, Indigenous Rights, and International Solidarity: Environmentalism across the Empire,” Labor and Empire Conference, UC Santa Barbara, November 2014.

“Labor, Environment, and Economic Development: Visions from the Colombian Coal Mines,” Latin American Labor History Group, Duke University, May 2014.

“Working across Borders: US-Latin America Collaborations for Social and Environmental Justice,” Scholar-Activist Panel, Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference, University of Kentucky, March 2014.

“Labor and Environmental Solidarity in an Age of Extractivism,” Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference, New Orleans, October 2013.

“Labor, Environment, and Extractivism: Visions from North and South,” Yale University, October 2013.

“Labor and Exctractivism in the Andes: Colombian Coal unions and Twenty-First Century Socialism,” Labor and Working Class History Association, New York, June 2013.

Roundtable participant, “Central America, Then and Now,” Latin American Studies Association, San Francisco, May 2012.

“Theory and Practice of Illegality,” Trends and Issues in Immigration and the Law Conference, UMass Dartmouth, March 2012.

“Modernity and Democracy: Latin American Perspectives Using Linked Labor Histories,” Latin American Exceptionalisms:  Explaining the Persistence of Democracy in Latin America, NYU, April 2011.

 “Migration, Labor and Nation in the Americas: A Roundtable on Community Engagement,” American Historical Association, Boston, January 2011.

“Witness for Peace, Coal Mines, and Solidarity,” Latin American Studies Association, Toronto, October 2010.

“Capitalism in Question: Rethinking Labor and Environmental Histories,” Monroe Center for Social Inquiry speakers series, Pitzer College, February 2010.

“Companies, Boycotts, and Solidarity:  From the Farmworkers to the Maquiladoras” (with Steve Striffler), Second Annual “Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference,” University of New Orleans, October 2009.

“De Santa Marta a Urabá: La United Fruit y la Violencia en Colombia,” Coloquio Internacional Conmenorando la Masacre Bananera de 1928,” University of Magdalena, Colombia, December 2008.

“Solidarity and Divisions: Challenges to Solidarity in the Global Coal Industry” (with Steve Striffler), First Annual “Empire and Solidarity in the Americas Conference,” University of New Orleans, October 2008.

“Labor History as World History: Linking Regions over Time,” Keynote Address, Newberry Conference on Labor History across the Americas, Chicago, September 2008.