Skip to main content

Celso Thomas Castilho

Associate Professor of History
Director of The Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies

Celso Thomas Castilho is an associate professor of history, and since Fall 2021, the director of CLACX, a Title VI National Resource Center. He is also currently president (2023-25) of the Conference on Latin American History (CLAH). This is our field’s largest and oldest society in the U.S., and an affiliate of the American Historical Association.

Trained in slavery studies and modern Latin American history at UC Berkeley, his articles, research monograph, and 3 co-edited volumes/special issues over the last decade have spanned the areas of race and emancipation, the press and the cultural field, and political citizenship—all grounded in the nineteenth century. Castilho’s first book, Slave Emancipation and Transformations in Brazilian Political Citizenship (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016), received three prizes, including the 2018 Bolton-Johnson Prize from the Conference of Latin American History for best book in Latin American history. His more recent research turns to the translations, adaptations, and theatrical performances of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Latin America to analyze how the histories of slavery bore on cultural production and communications networks, and vice versa, to consider how representing slavery brought into question local power dynamics and the wider geopolitics of slavery. Tentatively titled, The Latin American Repertoires of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book highlights the newspaper editors, women schoolteachers, and dramaturges, including afrodescendants, who stoked this phenomenon, in places, such as, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro.

Castilho is also researching and teaching the history of the Latin American diaspora. If in part personal, this interest is grounded in his current efforts with CLACX, and the center’s project to develop a course of study that meaningfully integrates aspects of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies. At 75 million people worldwide, the Latin American diaspora is today, and has been historically, important to developments in Asia, Europe, and the United States; it is also consequential for understanding Latin America. In 2024, co-authored an essay on the project of Latin American history, exploring its intersections with Latinx history, and taking into account social and institutional changes happening across higher education—mainly the marked growth of Latino college students and the notable expansion of Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

Castilho explores these connections through a new course called: Fútbol-Soccer: Latinx Culture, Gender, and Diaspora. This experience has deepened a research interest in writing a Latino history the 1994 Men’s World Cup, one that analyzes how Latino fan culture, media, and even playing performance, proved integral to this pivotal event in the history of U.S. soccer. Beyond its relevance to soccer, which with the 2024 Copa America, 2025 Club World Cup, and the 2026 Men’s World Cup will remain highly visible in the U.S., this project also offers a reckoning with the shifting geographies of Latinidad during the 1990s, when anti-immigrant, affirmative action, and bilingual education sentiments ran high, especially in California. Castilho looks to publish early, public-facing pieces of this work in 2024.