Dr. Laird W. Bergad, whose landmark research on slave-based plantation societies has broadened historical understanding of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil, has been named a Distinguished Professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College. He becomes the seventh current member of the Lehman faculty to hold this rank, which honors a small group of scholars and artists who have attained the highest levels of achievement within their fields. His appointment was approved on June 22 by the CUNY Board of Trustees.
“Dr. Bergad is a seasoned educator with an impressive scholarly record in his field of study,” said Lehman College president Ricardo R. Fernández. “I am certain that his ongoing research and strong commitment to education will continue to enrich the academic life of his students, as well as the campus as a whole.”
A member of the Lehman faculty since 1980, Prof. Bergad founded and directs the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research revolves around the social, economic and demographic history of slave-based plantation societies in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Prof. Bergad was one of the first foreign scholars to be granted unrestricted access to Cuban historical archives in the 1980s. His research there resulted in two books: Cuban Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century: The Social and Economic History of Monoculture in Matanzas (Princeton University Press, 1990), which examines the evolution of the sugar plantation economy in nineteenth-century Cuba, and (co-authored) The Cuban Slave Market, 1790-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), the first empirical examination of the structure of Cuban slave society during the island’s reign as the Caribbean’s leading sugar-producing and slave-importing nation.
Prof. Bergad has also written Coffee and the Growth of Agrarian Capitalism in Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico (Princeton University Press, 1983), The Demographic and Economic History of Slavery in Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1720-1888 (Cambridge University Press, 1999), which has been translated into Portuguese, and his recent book, The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States (Cambridge University Press, June 2007). He has co-written Hispanics in the U.S. 1980-2005: A Demographic, Social, and Economic History, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.