Alex Borucki

Picture of Alex Borucki
Professor, History
School of Humanities
Ph.D., Emory University, 2011
Phone: History Department: (949) 824-6521
University of California, Irvine
349 Krieger Hall
Mail Code: 3275
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
African Diaspora, Early Modern Atlantic World, Colonial Latin America
Research Abstract
My book, From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Río de la Plata focuses on the impact of mutual experiences and social networks on identity formation among Africans and their descendants. This work casts new light on the thousands of Africans who arrived in Montevideo and Buenos Aires at the peak of the slave trade. In addition, it gives center stage to a single black writer who left a comprehensive record of this time: Jacinto Ventura de Molina (1766-1841). I argue that black identities emerged from shared slave routes, the reshaping of ethnic boundaries, and participation in organizations ranging from Catholic brotherhoods to colonial militias. I explore experiences that bonded free blacks and slaves to each other and to the larger societies in which they found themselves. The slave trade, Catholic black lay brotherhoods, African-based associations, and black military service were crucial and overlapping fields of experience. While previous historiography has focused on one or another of these fields at a time, I show how individuals operated across these interconnected organizations.

My work on Jacinto Ventura de Molina, a free black who lived in early nineteenth-century Montevideo, exemplifies my commitment to interdisciplinary research in the Black Atlantic. In 2006, William Acree (Romance Languages and Literatures, Washington University in St. Louis) and I set out to publish a selection of Molina’s manuscripts. We edited these writings from both historical and literary perspectives. The result was a volume published in two editions, one in Montevideo and the other in Madrid.

I enjoy working alongside scholars of Africa, Europe, and the Americas in collective historical endeavors such as Voyages: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database and The African Origins Project. My role as a contributor to these international datasets has enlarged my understanding of working collaboratively with scholars from different generations, areas studies, and interests. A sample of this international scholarship can be seen in the Liberated Africans and Digital Humanities conference that took place in UC Irvine on October 1-2, 2013.

My next book project is entitled Slaves, Silver and Atlantic Empires: The Slave Trade to Spanish South America, 1670-1812. I plan to study the connections between slave arrivals in Spanish South America and the remittances of silver from this region to the Atlantic world. In the process, I will analyze how Spanish imperial expansion intertwined with the slave trade. My new objects of inquiry are the Atlantic empires in the era of Atlantic slaving and the people caught up in these historical forces.
“The U.S. Slave Ship Ascension in the Rio de la Plata: Slave Routes and Circuits of Silver in the Late-Eighteenth Century Atlantic and beyond.” Colonial Latin American Review 29, 4 (2020).
From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas. Co-edited with David Eltis and David Wheat. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2020, 350 pp.
"Atlantic History and the Slave Trade to Spanish America." American Historical Review, 120, 2 (April 2015), 433-461, in co-authorship with David Eltis and David Wheat
“From Colonial Performers to Actors of ‘American Liberty’: Black Artists in Bourbon and Revolutionary Río de la Plata.” The Americas 75, 2 (April 2018): 261-289.
“Across imperial boundaries: Black social networks across the Iberian South Atlantic, 1760–1810.” Atlantic Studies 14, 1 (2017): 11-36
“Using African Names to Identify the Origins of Captives in the Transatlantic Slave Trade: Crowd-Sourcing and the Registers of Liberated Africans, 1808-1862,”History in Africa (2013): 1-27, in co-authorship with Richard Anderson, Daniel Domingues da Silva, David Eltis, Paul Lachance, Philip Misevich, Olatunji Ojo
From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Rio de la Plata. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2015, 306 pp.
"Trans-imperial History in the Making of the Slave Trade to Venezuela, 1526-1811," Itinerario, 36, 2 (2012): 29-54.
“Shipmate Networks and Black Identities in the Marriage Files of Montevideo, 1768-1803,” Hispanic American Historical Review, 93, 2 (2013): 205-238.
"The Slave Trade to the Río de la Plata. Trans-imperial Networks and Atlantic Warfare, 1777-1812," Colonial Latin American Review 20, 1 (April 2011): 81-107.
“The ‘African Colonists’ of Montevideo. New Light on the Illegal Slave Trade to Rio de Janeiro and the Río de la Plata (1830-1842),” Slavery and Abolition 30, 3 (Sept. 2009): 427-444.
Professional Societies
American Historical Association
Latin American Studies Association
Conference of Latin American History
Research Centers
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
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