Spotlight On: Gema Kloppe-Santamaría
Gema Kloppe-Santamaría, Assistant Professor of Latin American History, was recently named a 2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader for her research and authorship of "In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico."
Our faculty spotlight shines this week on Gema Kloppe-Santamaría, PhD, Assistant Professor of Latin American History in the Department of History in College of Arts and Sciences, who has been named a 2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader (MEFL) by The Institute for Citizens & Scholars. The MEFL Awards support early-career faculty who represent the next generation of leaders and scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are poised to play a significant role in shaping American higher education through their commitment to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars.
Kloppe-Santamaría’s book In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (University of California Press, 2020) makes several arguments regarding the reasons behind the legitimacy and occurrence of lynching in Mexico’s post-revolutionary period (1930-1960).
The book examines the uncharted history of lynching in Mexico by looking at the ways in which politics, religion, perceptions of crime, and witchcraft beliefs shaped the legitimacy and occurrence of this practice. In Latin America, few if any studies have tried to elucidate the longer history of lynching.
The phenomenon of lynching in Latin America has received increasing attention over the last thirty years. National and international media, together with government officials and academic works, have turned to lynching in order to reflect on the insecurity and crime affecting these countries. Despite this recent attention, lynching is not new to this region. Kloppe-Santamaría’s book In the Vortex of Violence offers the first systematic account of the history of this practice in Mexico.
“Through her cutting-edge research and stellar teaching and mentorship, Gema Kloppe-Santamaria exemplifies the quality of scholarship and education at Loyola,” says Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Her selection as one of just 11 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders in the nation is an affirmation of Dr. Kloppe-Santamaria’s scholarly work, her service to students and colleagues, and her contributions to the future of higher education.”
Kloppe-Santamaría’s overall research centers on the history of violence and crime in Latin America, past and present. She is particularly interested in understanding the socio-cultural and political determinants of violence, and their impacts on state-building, democratization, and economic development throughout Latin America. In 2021, Kloppe-Santamaria received the Sujack Award for Faculty Research Excellence, which is the highest research honor that one an achieve in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola.
Kloppe-Santamaría is now working on a second book-length project on the history of religious violence in Mexico. Her aim is to understand why and under what conditions religion contributes to legitimate or deter the use of violence. This project will also contribute to broader conversations regarding the rise of religious violence at a global scale, and the ways in which faith-based communities can contribute to more peaceful societies.