Jorell Meléndez-Badillo

Position title: Assistant Professor of History


Phone: 608.262.5923

Office: 4113 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4017 Mosse Humanities
Curriculum Vitae (pdf) | Website

Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo headshot


I am a historian of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. My work focuses on the global circulation of radical ideas from the standpoint of working-class intellectual communities.

In my most recent book, The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico (Duke University Press, Nov. 2021), I tell the story of how a cluster of self-educated workingmen were able to go from producing knowledge within their workshops and labor unions in the margins of Puerto Rico’s cultural and intellectual elite, to becoming highly respected politicians and statesmen. The book is a story of how this group of workers produced, negotiated, and archived powerful discourses that ended up shaping Puerto Rico’s national mythology. However, by following a group of ragtag intellectuals, the book also demonstrates how techniques of racial and gender silencing, ghosting, and erasure also took place in the margins. Ultimately, it is a book about the intersections of politics, knowledge, and power-relations in Puerto Rican working-class intellectual production at the turn of the twentieth century.

My forthcoming book is Puerto Rico: A National History (Princeton University Press, forthcoming, April 2024). The book will be published in Spanish as Puerto Rico: Historia de una nación (Grupo Planeta, a publicarse en abril 2024). This book offers an accessible introduction to Puerto Rico, its history, and the contemporary political moment. It is a national history of a country without a nation state. It tells the story of how Puerto Rico has been colonized for more than five centuries. However, it also documents how the people have resisted colonial domination. Ultimately, the book will provide unfamiliar readers with an informed argument of how and why Puerto Rico arrived at its current juncture, as well as how Puerto Ricans are imagining possible futures in the face of austerity, failing infrastructures, and the rubble left behind by colonial neglect

I am currently working in a monograph-length project titled The Counter-Republic of Letters: Radical Networks Across the Atlantic World. The book will explore the ways that a cluster of radical intellectuals created a transatlantic community at the turn of the twentieth century through print media, correspondence, and migration. It will pay attention to groups of ragtag intellectuals in different corners of the globe: working-class salons in Barcelona, printing presses in Havana, prisons in Mexico City during the 1910 revolution, beer halls in New York City, radical bookstores in Buenos Aires, and quiet libraries in Vienna.

I am also co-editing a volume with Dr. Aurora Santiago Ortiz titled Interrogating the Future of Puerto Rican Studies (under contract with Duke University Press). The book seeks to document recent conversations and debates that are reshaping the field of Puerto Rican Studies.

I am also the author of Voces libertarias: Los orígenes del anarquismo en Puerto Rico (Secret Sailor Books, 2013; Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo-CNT, 2014; Editorial Akelarre/CEISO, 2015), co-editor of Without Borders or Limits: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Anarchist Studies (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), and editor of Páginas libres: Breve antología del pensamiento anarquista en Puerto Rico (Editora Educación Emergente, 2021). I’ve also published book chapters, as well as journal and newspaper articles on the histories of anarchism, labor, and radical politics in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. His work has appeared in Hispanic American Historical Review, Caribbean Studies, Latin American Perspectives, NACLAInternational Labor and Working Class HistorySociety and Space, and The Abusable Past, among others.

I hold a Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Connecticut.Before arriving at UW-Madison, he was a Mellon Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College.


Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.A., Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico
B.A., Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico


Selected Publications

Peer-Review Articles

  • “Luisa Capetillo and the Caribbean’s Counter Republic of Letters.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 69 (Nov. 2022): Forthcoming.
  • “A Party of Ex-Convicts: Bolívar Ochart, Carceral Logics, and the Socialist Party in Puerto Rico, 1917-1928,” Hispanic American Historical Review vol. 101, no. 1 (February 2021): 73-99.
  • “Mateo and Juana: Racial Silencing, Epistemic Violence, and Counterarchives in Puerto Rican Labor History,” International Labor and Working-Class History Journal vol. 96 (Fall 2019): 103-121.
  • “Imagining Resistance: Organizing the Puerto Rican Southern Agricultural Strike of 1905,” Caribbean Studies Journal vol. 43, no. 2 (July-December 2015): 33-82.
  • “Labor History’s Transnational Turn: Rethinking Latin American and Caribbean Migrant Workers,” Latin American Perspectives vol. 42, no. 4 (July 2015): 117-122.

Book Chapters

  • “Radical Genealogies: The Beginnings of Anarchism in Nineteenth-Century Latin America” Routledge Companion to Nineteenth-Century Latin America, edited by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Graciela Montaldo. Forthcoming, 2023.
  • “Luisa Capetillo en La Habana: Sus escritos en la prensa anarquista cubana, 1910-1914.” In Amor y anarquía: Los escritos de Luisa Capetillo, edited by Julio Ramos. Cabo Rojo: Ediciones Educación Emergente, 2021.
  • “The Anarchist Imaginary: Max Nettlau and Latin America, 1890-1934.” In Writing Revolution: Hispanic Anarchist Print Culture and the United States, edited by Montse Feu-López and Chris J Castañeda. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019.
  • “The Puerto Rican Experiment: Crisis, Colonialism, and Popular Response.” In The End of the World as We Know It? Crisis, Resistance, and the Age of Austerity, edited by Deric Shannon. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2014.
  • “Interpreting, Deconstructing, and Deciphering Ideograms of Rebellion: An Approach to the History of Reading in Puerto Rico’s Anarchist Groups at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century.” In Without Borders or Limits: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Anarchist Studies, edited by Meléndez Badillo, Jorell and Nathan Jun, 57-75. Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

Other Academic Publications and Public Scholarship

History Courses