José Fusté

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Assistant Professor

B.A. Anthropology, Brown University
M.A./Ph.D. Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego

Phone: 425-352-5350
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


In my classes, I strive to impart in students a critical awareness of their social positionality in relation to the people we are connected to locally, nationally, and transnationally, and of the social forces that shape our lives. I use the classroom space to get students to engage the relationships of power that have structured how we relate to and affect each other, and the historical and structural underpinnings of those dynamics. I encourage them to put their assumptions about the world aside and challenge the patterns through which we have learned to see ourselves as social and political subjects.

In our meetings, I employ teaching methods and exercises that build on what students are already getting from the assigned texts by adding context and by clarifying difficult concepts. I have found the use of history teaching to be particularly handy in classes that are designed to challenge conventional wisdom about relationships of power in society. I typically assign analytical texts that are also good reads that illustrate the cause and effect relationships between past and present. I also assign primary sources for students to unravel in class as a group so that they can rehearse how to critically dissect historical memory, how it is (re)made, and the power that resides in it. Cultural studies in-depth analysis is also a great tool to achieve these goals. For example, in a class on U.S. imperialism, we would spend several sessions employing visual analysis methods to “decode” political cartoons from the Spanish American war. We would collaborate with each other to reveal the discourses of race, gender, and nation inherent in these images.

Additionally, I try to get students to realize how essential writing and other creative genres are for learning to think about ourselves as complex political subjects embedded in a web of uneven relations. I want them to see writing not as an “assignment,” but rather as a form of meditation that can be tedious at times, but revelatory and rewarding with practice. I also allow students to submit creative projects related to the course subject, of which they also have to write reflections called “process essays.”

In short, my guiding objective is to get students to simultaneously reflect on the world’s most pressing dramas while encouraging them to imagine and enact new ways of undoing the problems and injustices we examine.


My training is in Critical Ethnic Studies but my research engages this and other fields including History, Transnational American Studies, Urban Studies, Postcolonial/Decolonial Studies, Latin@ Studies, Africana Studies, Latin American Studies, and Caribbean Studies. My early research examined race, space, and segregation in Puerto Rico’s public housing projects. I am currently drafting a book manuscript titled Entangled Crossings: Afro-Latino Migrations Between Race and Empire. This work historicizes the structural antagonisms and identitarian mistranslations that existed between Black Americans and Afro-Latin@s from the Hispanic Caribbean in the early to mid 20th century. Of the few works that have been published on Afro-Latinidad as a transnational individual and collective experience, most treat it as an additive identity/consciousness that exists as something waiting to be “realized” by individuals and communities. I instead examine the condition of reconciling being both “Black” and “Latin@“ as a protean onto-politics that changes according to how those who fall under this category negotiate their intersecting racial/colonial/imperial/class positionalities.

I am also currently thinking and writing about the under-acknowledged political economic, legal, geostrategic, and cultural transcolonial connections and dynamics between Puerto Rico and other spaces of “concentrated colonialism” within the US empire.

Selected Publications

Fusté, José I. (2016). “Translating Negroes into Negros: Rafael Serra’s Transamerican Entanglements between Black Cuban Racial and Imperial Subalternity, 1895- 1909.” In Afro-Latin@s in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism in the Americas. Edited by Petra R. Rivera-Rideau, Jennifer A. Jones, and Tianna S. Paschel. New York: Palgrave-McMillan

Fusté, José I. (2015). Review of Black Flag Boricuas: Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897-1921, by Kirwin A. Shaffer. CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, XVI:2, 266-269.

Fusté, José I. (2014). “Unsettling Citizenship/Circumventing Sovereignty: Reexamining the Quandaries of Contemporary Anti-Colonialism in the US Through Black Puerto Rican Anti Racist Thought.” American Quarterly, 65:4, 161-169.

Fusté, José I. (2010) “Containing Bordered ‘Others’ in la Frontera and Gaza: Comparative Lessons on Racialization and State Violence.” American Quarterly, 62:4, 811-819.

Fusté, José I. (2010). “Colonial Laboratories, Irreparable Subjects: The Experiment of ‘(B)ordering’ San Juan’s Public Housing Residents.” Social Identities, 16:1, 41-59.