Emilio Kourí’s main scholarly interest is the social and economic history of rural Mexico and Latin America. He is an associate professor of history and the director of the Katz Center for Mexican Studies at the University of Chicago. His book A Pueblo Divided: Business, Property, and Community in Papantla, Mexico (Stanford University Press, 2004) received the 2005 Bolton-Johnson Prize from the Conference on Latin American History and the 2005 Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize (honorable mention) from the American Society for Ethnohistory.
At Radcliffe, Kourí will work on a book about the idea of the Indian pueblo in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Mexican thought, law, and political discourse. Using modern Mexico as a case study, he will examine the origins and evolution of two deeply entrenched ideas about the character of indigenous communal organization: that harmony and cohesion are defining features of Indian village social relations and that communal land tenure is the natural expression of this inherent cultural solidarity. In part one, an intellectual history, he will trace the philosophical assumptions underpinning the analysis of native communities in early sociology and anthropology. In part two, an archive-based sociopolitical history, he will describe how these assumptions shaped twentieth-century Mexican social thought, agrarian reform, and Indian policy.
Kourí earned his AB in philosophy and his PhD in history from Harvard University. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the American Council of Learned Societies.