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 105 Colonialism and the Making of the Modern World
HST 109H Honors World History
HST 209 Indigenous Histories of the Americas
HST 239 History of Latinos in the United States
HST 378 History of Central America
HST 500 Directed Study in History
HST 840 Latinos in the United States
HST 901 Modern Latin America
HST 902 Indigenous Histories of the Americas
HST 992 Directed Study

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, two books on immigration:  They Take Our Jobs!  And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration, and Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, and a book on Central America's Forgotten History.  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 Studies, Salem State University

Selected Publications


Is Science Enough?  Forty Critical Questions about Climate Justice (Beacon Press, 2022).

Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration (Beacon Press, 2021).

Organizing for Power: Building a Twenty-First Century Labor Movement in Boston, ed. Aviva Chomsky and Steve Striffler (Haymarket Books, 2021).

Unwanted People, ed. Jorge Majfud.  Biblioteca Javier Coy déstudis nord-americans, Universitat de València, 2019.

The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr, Pamela Smorkaloff, and Alfredo Prieto.  Duke University Press, 2003.  Second edition, 2019.

“They Take Our Jobs!” And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007.  Second expanded edition, 2018.

Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal.  Beacon Press, 2014/Indocumentados: Como la inmigración se volvió ilegal.  Planeta [Mexico], 2014.

A History of the Cuban Revolution.  Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.  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.

¡Nos quitan nuestros trabajos!  y 20 mitos más sobre la inmigración. Haymarket Books, 2011/¡Nos quitan nuestros empleos! y 20 mitos más sobre la inmigración. Editorial Ciencias Sociales [Havana], 2012.

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.


“The Many Workers of Capitalism.” In Sharryn Kasmir and Lesley Gill, eds, The Routledge Handbook of the Anthropology of Labor (Routledge, 2022).

“A Tangle of Exclusion: Boston’s Black Working Class and the Struggle for Racial and Economic Justice.” In Aviva Chomsky and Steve Striffler, eds., Organizing for Power: Building a Twenty-First Century Labor Movement in Boston (Haymarket, 2021).

“Immigrants and Worker Centers in Boston in the Shadow of Trump.” In Organizing for Power.

“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.


“Rewriting Gender in the New Revolutionary Song:  Cuba’s Nueva Trova and Beyond.” Radical History Review 136 (January 2020).

“Histories of Class and the Carceral State: A Response to Paul Durrenberger and Dimitra Doukas.”  Dialectical Anthropology 42:1 (March 2018), 33-50.

“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).

Selected Presentations

“Central America at the Crossroads of Climate Change and Neoliberalism: Economic Development, Migration, and Remittances in the 21st Century.” Múltiples facetas de las Independencia. La emancipación de América Central en su retrospectiva.  University of Vienna, October 2021.

“The Immigration Debate: From Settler Colonialism to Donald Trump.” American Media and Cultural Studies and Spanish and Portuguese Special Event.  Northeast Modern Language Association Convention, March 2019.

“El debate sobre la inmigración: Desde el colonialismo de asentamiento a Donald Trump.”  Keynote address, Encuentro Subgraduado de Investigación y Creación.  University of Puerto Rico, September 2018.

“Negotiating Labour Relations under Global Capital.” New Histories of Class Conference, Harvard University, April 2017.

“Undocumented Workers and Students.” Contested Citizenship Conference, University of Connecticut, March 2017.

“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, 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.

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