Rebecca Herman

Associate Professor

Rebecca Herman is a historian of the Americas concerned with the social, political, and environmental history of the twentieth century. 

Her first book, Cooperating with the Colossus, was published by Oxford University Press in 2022. The book reconstructs a contentious U.S. military basing project advanced in Latin America during World War II. Despite widespread acclaim for Pan-American unity with the Allied cause, defense construction incited local conflicts across the region - over labor rights, racial discrimination, sex, and criminal jurisdiction. Anchored in the wartime experiences of Brazil, Cuba, and Panama, the book moves between the American foreign ministries and the cantinas, courtrooms, plazas, and brothels where the wartime alliance took shape to examine the fraught relationship between cooperation and sovereignty in the Americas. Cooperating with the Colossus was named a Best Book of 2023 by Foreign Affairs.

Professor Herman is currently working on a book about Antarctica in the 1970s and 80s, when negotiations over the future of mining in Antarctica strained the Antarctic Treaty System and stimulated a number of alternative visions for the future of the continent. During those years, the Argentine and Chilean military governments colonized the Antarctic peninsula with civilian settlements in an effort to shore up their long-held claims to sovereignty, leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement insisted that Antarctica belonged to the global commons, like the deep seabeds and outer space, while a rising environmental movement fought to declare the Antarctic a protected World Park. Herman's book-in-progress reconstructs this period of uncertainty about Antarctica's future through the stories of the soldiers and scientists, military wives and children, artists, writers, and activists who traveled South in growing numbers. By bringing the high politics of Antarctic governance together with the intimate stories of the people who executed it, Herman aims to write a book that renders complicated matters of environmental governance and global inequality intelligible and compelling to a broad readership.

Beyond the academy, Herman uses other formats for storytelling to make sense of the world. She is a lifelong fiction-writer and, prior to entering academia, she spent several years in Argentina, with shorter stints in Bolivia, Brazil, and Boston, working on assorted documentary and translation projects. 



Cooperating with the Colossus: A Social and Political History of US Military Bases in World War II Latin America (New York: Oxford University Press, September 2022)

Articles and Essays:

"Greenpeace Goes South: The Promise and Pitfalls of Global Environmentalism in Argentina," Environmental History Volume 29:1 (January 2024)

"Antarctica & Colonialism: A Historian's Reflections," Antarctica & Colonialism, eds. Peder Roberts and Alejandra Mancilla (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2024)

"Latin America and the Guts of Global History" The American Historical Review Volume 128, Issue 1 (March 2023) in the "Forum On Transnational and International History."

"Social Peace in a Time of War: Labor Justice and Foreign Policy in World War II Brazil" in The Entangled Labor Histories of Brazil and the United States, ed. Fernando Teixeira da Silva, Alexandre Fortes, Thomas D. Rogers, and Gillian McGillivray (Lexington Books, 2023)

Latin America and US Global Governance” in Cambridge History of America in the World, Volume 3, ed. Mark Bradley, Brooke Blower, Andrew Preston (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Covid-19: A Crash Course in ContingencyDiplomatic History Vol 45, Issue 3 (June 2021): 510-516.

"The Global Politics of Anti-Racism: A View from the Canal ZoneAmerican Historical Review Volume 125, Issue 2 (April 2020): 460-486.

  • Honorable Mention, Bernath Scholarly Article Prize, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations

"A Paz Social em tempo de guerra: Justiça do Trabalho e política externa no Brasil na Segunda Guerra Mundial" in Trabalho & Labor: Histórias Compartilhadas Brasil e Estados Unidos Século XX, ed. Fernando Teixiera da Silva e Alexandre Fortes (Editora Sagga, 2020).

"An Army of Educators: Gender, Revolution and the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961Gender & History Volume 24, Issue 1 (April 2012): 93-111.


PhD, History, University of California, Berkeley

MA, History, University of California, Berkeley

BA, Literature & History, Spanish, Duke University


Associate Professor, History Department, University of California, Berkeley (2023 - present)

Assistant Professor, History Department, University of California, Berkeley (2015 - 2023)

Assistant Professor, Jackson School for International Studies, University of Washington (2014 - 2015)

Select Fellowships, Awards & Honors

2024 Luciano Tomassini Latin American International Relations Book Award Honorable Mention, Latin American Studies Association

2023 Tonous & Warda Johns Family Book Award, Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association 

2023 Pacific Coast Branch Book Award Honorable Mention, Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association

2023-2024 Social Science Matrix Faculty Fellow, UC Berkeley

2022 Humanities Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2021 Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize, Honorable Mention, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations

2019 Hellman Junior Faculty Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2018 Humanities Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2015 Lewis Hanke Postdoctoral Award, Honorable Mention, Conference on Latin American History

2014 William Appleman Williams Junior Faculty Award, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

2012 Visiting Research Fellow, Fundação Getulio Vargas

2012 Aviation and Space Writers Award, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

2012 International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

2012 CLIR-Mellon Fellowship for Research in Original Sources, Council on Library and Information Resources

2012 Stuart L. Bernath Dissertation Research Fellowship, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations 

2012 Marshall Baruch Fellowship, George C. Marshall Foundation

2010 Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Rio de Janeiro

2008 Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow, Duke Center for Documentary Studies


Modern Latin America; the US in the World; Environmental history and politics; International & Global history

Rebecca Herman profile photo


2307 Dwinelle Hall

Office Hours