Dr. Antonio Sotomayor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Library Administration, & Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian
Associated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
337A Main Library
University of Illinois
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
- August 2011 to May 2012: Research Associate/Lecturer in History and Latin American Studies, Knox College.
- 2012 - Ph.D., History, University of Chicago.
- 2006 - M.A., Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- 2004 - M.S., Counseling, Indiana University-Bloomington.
- 2000 - B.A., Psychology, Universidad de Puerto Rico en Mayagüez.
- "Sport in Latin America and the Caribbean."
- "Same Sea, Different Shores: Nationalism and Identity in the Caribbean."
- "Colonial Puerto Rico under the U.S. Empire."
My research primarily focuses on sport as the embodiment of politics and national identity in Puerto Rico during the twentieth century. Central to my argument is that the development of sport infrastructure, in its physical and bureaucratic sides, is as much political as it is a cultural process of identity. By analyzing the way sport was regularized and institutionalized we can understand the way Puerto Rican sport mediated in a broader process of a U.S.-P.R. colonial political consolidation, which in the meantime aided in the development of an identity of athletic culture. The negotiation of sport, colonialism, and culture was not only a matter of local interest, but made international when the IOC played a key role by accepting Puerto Rico’s Olympic Committee in 1948. Therefore, Puerto Rican sport development, placed in a context of “third world” modernization, is an excellent example of the importance to observe and comprehend the intersections of sport, culture and politics not only in its local impact, but also at the international level.
A new project studies the role that the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) played in the politics of United States expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean. It particularly seeks to establish patterns of intersection between sport, imperialism, and religion. The YMCA, in its religious missionary orientation, formally allied itself with the U.S. Army and Navy forces during the Spanish American War of 1898 to accompany invading forces into Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. This alliance gave YMCA missionaries the opportunity provide religious and moral support to the troops in the frontlines, in addition to opening the doors for proselytizing in these Catholic countries. Through their focus on “muscular Christianity,” the YMCA believed that a strong body would provide stronger Christian soldiers and missionaries, in turn creating a stronger faith.
I am also working on a book project on the history of Puerto Rican Olympism. Puerto Rico has been participating in Olympic competition since 1930. While this presence shows the consistent existence of an Olympic nation, it occurs under a colonial relation with the United States. As an unincorporated territory of the U.S., Puerto Ricans constitute the only case in Latin America where sporting sovereignty does not equal political sovereignty. This manuscript seeks to unravel the conflictive story of Puerto Rico’s rise as an Olympic nation, a rise embedded in colonial struggles. Contrary to the belief that sport and politics should not mix, this story shows that the rise of Puerto Rican Olympism was a highly political endeavor. Indeed, the Puerto Rican Olympic delegation was inherently immersed in pressing international politics such as Good Neighbor policy, decolonization movements, and the Cold War. Moreover, viewing sport as culture, the rise of Puerto Rican Olympism was the perfect tool to perform the Puerto Rican nation at the most important global festival of nations: the Olympics.
Research Interests: Cultural & Political History; Popular Culture; Nationalism & National Identity; History of Sport; Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Latin America and Caribbean (Puerto Rico); Modernity & Modernization; Festivities and Rituals; Imperialism and Colonialism; Religion and Religiosity.
Awards and Distinctions
- Mellon Foundation/Social Science Dissertation-Year Fellowship, University of Chicago, 2011-2012.
- Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable Mention, 2011-2012.
- Mellon Prize Lectureship in Latin American History, University of Chicago, 2010.
- 2014: Scholars Travel Fund. University of Illinois. Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research. Conference on Latin American History, Washigton, D.C.
- 2013: Research and Publication Committee Grant. University of Illinois Library. Kautz Family YMCA Archives at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
- 2013: Scholars Travel Fund. University of Illinois. Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research. XXXI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Washington D.c.
- 2010: Freehling Research Travel Grant. Department of History, University of Chicago. Washington D.C.
- 2009: Freehling Research Travel Grant. Department of History, University of Chicago. Puerto Rico.
- 2009: Mellon Summer Research Grant. University of Chicago. Puerto Rico.
- Sotomayor, Antonio. "Operation Sport: Puerto Rico's Recreational and Political Consolidation in an Age of 'Progress.'" (Under submission).
- Sotomayor, Antonio. "Un parque para cada pueblo: Julio Enrique Monagas and the Politics of Sport and Recreation in Puerto Rico during the 1940s." (Under submission).
- Sotomayor Carlo, Antonio. "Patron Saint Festivities, Politics, and Culture: Celebrating the Colonial Nation in San Germán, Puerto Rico, 1950s." Centro Journal, Vol. 20 Issue 2 (2008): 100-125.
- Sotomayor, Antonio. "The Cold War Games of a Colonial Latin American Nation: San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1966." In Andrew Johns and Heather Dietcher, editors, Diplomatic Games: Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. (Forthcoming 2014).
- Sotomayor, Antonio, "Operation Sport: Populist Alliancesin the Modernization of Puerto Rico, 1950s." Conference on Latin American History at the 128th American Historical Association Conference, Washington, D.C. January 2, 2014. Panel: "Using Spaces of Leisure, Forming New Identities in the Rio de la Plata, Brazil, and Puerto Rico."
- Sotomayor, Antonio, "Sport Revolution and Populism in Puerto Rico during the 1940s.” Paper presented at the XXXI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Washington D.C., May 30, 2013. Session: “Globalización Cultural y Estado.”
- Sotomayor, Antonio, “Between Cold War and Colonialism: The X Central American and Caribbean Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1966.” Conference on Latin American History at the 126th American Historical Association Conference in Chicago, January 7, 2012. Panel Organizer for “Popular Culture and Conflict in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
- Sotomayor, Antonio, “Colonialism and Olympism: The Emergence of Puerto Rican Olympic Representation.” Conference on Latin American History at the 125th American Historical Association Conference in Boston, January 8, 2011. Panel Organizer for “Sport, Culture, and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
- Sotomayor, Antonio, “Modernidad e industrialización en las fiestas patronales de Puerto Rico, 1950s.” 8th Conference of the Puerto Rican Studies Association, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2008.
- Sotomayor, Antonio, “Legitimizing the Nation: Politics, Culture, and Patron Saint Festivities in Puerto Rico, 1950s.” XXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2006.
- Sotomayor, Antonio, “Americanization and Resistance in Puerto Rico, 1898-1940s.” 29th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, UK, 2005.
- Latin American Studies Association
- Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM)
- North American Society for Sport History
- American Historical Association