Steven J. Hirsch

Steven J. Hirsch

Professor of Practice, Global Studies
PhD, George Washington University
research interests:
  • Anarchism in modern Peruvian history
  • Labor and political history in the Andean Republics (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia)
  • Populism in Latin America

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    MSC 1217-137-255
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-899

Steven Hirsch is a historian of Modern Latin America with a specialization in Peruvian history. His research centers on anarchist movements and networks in Peru and their attendant transregional and transnational interactions, cross-fertilizations and emancipatory struggles. In addition, his research also focuses on the discursive, class, gender, ethnic, and racial dimensions of the Peruvian APRA Party and Latin American populism. With the exception of his secondary teaching interest in ‘The Vietnam Wars’ and in anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and political violence in Southeast Asian history, his research and teaching interests overlap.

Hirsch received a PhD in Latin America History from The George Washington University; a M.A. degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin; and a B.A. degree in History from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Recent Courses

First-Year Seminar: The Vietnam Wars (L97 GS 111)

US-centric historical narratives of the Vietnam War obscure the perspectives and lived experiences of the Vietnamese. The social, ethnic, and religious diversity, and the political and gender-related complexities of the Vietnamese are typically neglected. By focusing almost exclusively on Vietnam, US narratives of the war also tend to gloss over the wider regional dimensions of the conflict. In the interest of redressing this imbalance, this course examines the outlook, values, agency, and experiences of northern and southern Vietnamese, as well as rural and urban Cambodians and Laotians. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources it provides a macro and micro level historical analysis of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from the premodern era until the present. In so doing, it explores the early sociocultural foundations of ancient Southeast Asian civilizations, the impact of Chinese and French colonialism, and Japanese occupation, the rise of Indochinese nationalist and communist revolutionary movements, the process of decolonization, the impact of U.S. military intervention, the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge, postwar political and economic developments, and the memories and multiple meanings of the Vietnam Wars for Southeast Asians. Course is for first-year, non-transfer students only.

    Andean History: Culture and Politics (L97 GS 356)

    Since pre-Columbian times, the central Andean mountain system, combining highlands, coastal and jungle areas, has been the locus of multiethnic polities. Within this highly variegated geographical and cultural-historical space, emerged the Inca Empire, the Viceroyalty of Peru - Spain's core South American colony, and the central Andean republics of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Taking a chronological and thematic approach, this course will examine pre-Columbian Andean societies, Inca rule, Andean transformations under Spanish colonialism, post-independence nation-state formation, state-Indian relations, reform and revolutionary movements, and neoliberal policies and the rise of new social movements and ethnic politics. This course focuses primarily on the development of popular and elite political cultures, and the nature and complexity of local, regional, and national power relations.

      Anarchism: History, Theory and Praxis (L97 GS 364)

      This course analyzes the origins, historical trajectories, and influence of anarchism from its classical period (1860s - 1930s) until the present. It examines the major personalities, complex ideas, vexing controversies, and diverse movements associated with anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism, individualist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarchist feminism, green anarchism, lifestyle anarchism, and poststructuralist anarchism. In doing so, it explores traditional anarchist concerns with state power, authority, social inequality, capitalism, nationalism, imperialism, and militarism. It also analyzes anarchism's conception of individual and collective liberation, mutual aid, workers' organization, internationalism, direct democracy, education, women's emancipation, sexual freedom, and social ecology. Special attention will be given to past and contemporary globalizing processes and their relation to the dissemination and reception of anarchism in the global South.

        Latin American Populism and Neo-Populism (L97 GS 4611)

        A salient feature of Latin America in the 20th and early 21st centuries has been the recurrence of populism. Mass-based political and social movements animated by nationalist and reformist impulses dominated Latin American politics in the 1920s, 1930s-60s, and 1980s to the present. This course provides a general historical and theoretically informed analysis of the origins, internal dynamics, and outcomes of classical populist and neo-populist governments and parties. Among the notable populist and neo-populist cases to be examined include: Peronism in Argentina , Velasquismo in Ecuador, Cardenismo in Mexico, APRA in Peru, Varguismo in Brazil, Garcia/Fujimori in Peru, Menen/Kirchners in Argentina, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Issues pertaining to leader-follower relations, populist discourses, citizenship rights, populist gender and racial policies, labor and social reforms, and mass mobilization politics will also be explored.

          Labor and Labor Movements in Global History (L97 GS 4622)

          Moving away from a traditional national approach to labor history, this course explores the connections between work, types of workers, workers' movements, labor ideologies, and labor politics from a global historical perspective. It focuses on the period from the mid-19th century until the present. This temporal focus corresponds to the first (c.1860-1930) and second (c.1980-present) ages of globalization. Global phenomena such as expanding world trade, international labor markets, industrialization, urbanization, colonialism, imperialism, capital and labor mobility, and the spread of radical ideologies will be analyzed to assess their impact on the nature of work, labor relations systems, labor organization, and workers' collective action. This course will introduce students to key topics and themes in global labor history. These themes are varied and complex and range from working-class formation, immigration, state-labor relations, labor regimes, patterns of racialized and gendered work, competing labor ideologies, and transnational and transcontinental relations between workers in different regions of the world. The history of Latin American workers and labor movements will receive special attention.

            Twentieth Century Latin American Revolutions (L97 GS 4633)

            Latin America was arguably one of the most "revolutionary" regions of the world in the twentieth century. It registered four "great revolutions": Mexico 1910, Bolivia 1952, Cuba 1959, and Nicaragua 1979. These social revolutions entailed a substantial, violent, and voluntarist struggle for political power and the overthrow of the established political, economic, social, and cultural orders. In the wake of these successful revolutions, new revolutionary institutions of governance were founded, radical structural changes were implemented, and a new revolutionary ethos was adopted. With the exception perhaps of the Bolivian Revolution, these revolutions had a profound impact on Latin American and world politics. The primary aim of this course is to analyze and compare the causes, processes, and outcomes of the Mexican, Cuban, and Nicaraguan revolutions. The course also analyzes late 20th century guerrilla movements in El Salvador and Peru.

              Selected Publications 

              Radical Encounters: Anarchists, Marxists, and Nationalists in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870s-1940s, (Routledge, 2021).  Co-edited with Lucien van der Walt.

              “Anarchists and ‘the Indian Problem’ in Peru, 1898-1927,” Anarchist Studies, 28-2, 2020, 54-75.

              “Indigeneity and Latin American Anarchism,” Anarchist Studies, 28-2, 2020, 7-18. co-authored with Geoffroy de Laforcade.

              “Anarquismo, subalternidad y repertories de la resistencia en el norte de Perú, 1898-1932,” en Historias de Anarquistas: Ideas y Rutas, Letras y Escenas,” eds. Alejandro de la Torre y Miguel Orduña, México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, 2018.

               “Anarchism, the Subaltern, and Repertoires of Resistance in Northern Perú, 1898-1932,” in No Gods, No Masters, No Peripheries: Global Anarchisms, eds. Barry Maxwell and Raymond Craib, Oakland: PM Press, 2015, 215-232.

              “Anarchist Visions of Race and Space in Northern Perú, 1898-1922,” in In Defiance of Boundaries, Anarchism in Latin American History, eds. Kirwin Shaffer and Geoffroy de Laforcade, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, (August, 2015).

              Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Post-Colonial World, 1870-1940, Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2010. Co-edited with Lucien van der Walt.

              Works in Progress

              “Study, Organize, Rebel”: A History of Anarchism in Peru, 1885-1932,” (in preparation).

              Social Revolutionary Visions: Latin American Anarchism(s) in the Wake of the Bolshevik Revolution (in preparation). Co-edited with Geoffroy de Laforcade.


              L97 GS 111 The Vietnam Wars

              L97 GS 356 Andean History: Culture and Politics

              L97 GS 364 Anarchism: History, Theory, Praxis

              L97 GS 4201 International Relations of Latin America

              L97 GS 4611 Latin American Populism and Neopopulism

              L97 GS 4622 Labor and Labor Movements in Global History

              L97 GS 4633 20th Century Latin American Revolutions