Jesús Ruiz is a historian of Latin America & the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, and Haiti. He specializes in the study of the Age of Revolutions, Revolutionary Haiti, Afro-Latin America, and the Black Atlantic. He received his PhD, with distinction, from Tulane University in 2020. He is currently a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Collaborative Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies.
Dr. Ruiz will spend his time at Vanderbilt working on his first book manuscript and setting the foundations for a second project. His first book, The Black Royalists: Haiti and A Politics of Freedom in the Atlantic World, explores the royalist history of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and argues that the Revolution should be interpreted as part of a broader wave of “popular royalist” movements in the Spanish Empire, including revolts in the Andes region in the 1780s and the insurrections that broke out after Napoleon’s occupation of Spain in 1808. Dr. Ruiz reorients Haitian revolutionary debates from French-, British-, and U.S. centered interpretations to sketch a broader framework that includes the Spanish Empire as well as the African Atlantic. He provides a lens through which to understand a Black politics during the Age of Revolution that did not fit neatly into teleological liberal and republican tropes. The Black Royalists promises to be the first monograph to analyze the political history of royalism in Haiti’s revolutionary past. This work is under contract with Harvard University Press.
Dr. Ruiz’s research, writing, and teaching about Haiti has resulted in public-facing publications and awards. He’s written about Haiti for Weave News, and about the plight of Haitian asylum seekers in The Washington Post. He’s presented his research at Duke’s reputable “tgiFHI series,” and has published work with the Bulletin of Latin American Research and Cadernos de Traduçao. Dr. Ruiz has also presented his work at Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin America, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies’ (CLACX) “Haiti Week.” He has won the Edward H. Moseley Award from The Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), and the Richard E. Greenleaf Award for Best Graduate Paper in the Social Sciences from Tulane University. Ruiz has taught courses at Tulane—where he won the William J. Griffith Teaching Award—Vanderbilt, where he made a splash with a Vanderbilt sports star, and at Duke University.
With a deeply trans-disciplinary formation, Ruiz’s research progresses on two tracks. The first is an evolving book project tentatively entitled “Hemispheric Dislocations: The Politics of Migration and Asylum in the Americas” in which, taking his first-hand experiences as an Asylum Officer as a starting point, he explores the history of asylum in the Americas. This project has been funded Vanderbilt’s NEH Collaborative Humanities fellowship. Another incipient book project entitled “From Black Sanctuary to Black Exodus: Haitian Freedom Dreams in the Age of Slavery,” traces Haiti’s transition from a “receiving” country and haven for Afro-Americans in the nineteenth-century, to a “sending” country of large-scale Black exodus in the twentieth-century. Ruiz hopes both projects will contribute to studies on the global interconnectedness of dispossession and forced migration, the histories of race in the Americas, and works on citizenship and belonging.
Dr. Ruiz’s work has been funded by fellowships from the Ford Foundation, ACLS, Fulbright, the Schomburg Center, the John Carter Brown Library, the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and most recently the Omohundro Institute of Early American History. He has conducted much of his research and writing as a visiting scholar at the Instituto de Historia del Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (IH-CCHS/CSIC) in Madrid and the Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos (EEHA) in Seville and, in France, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He’s also been a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
A first-generation citizen of the U.S. born in Los Angeles, CA to parents from Sonora, Mexico, Ruiz was raised in Arizona and became the first person in his family to go to college. He received his BA in Spanish with honors from St. Lawrence University, and his MA in Caribbean Studies from The University at Buffalo (SUNY). You can follow him on twitter: @PhDJesus.