Dr. Laird Bergad Is Lehman's Newest Distinguished Professor

Laird W. Bergad
Dr. Laird W. Bergad
Dr. Laird W. Bergad, whose landmark research on slave-based plantation societies has broadened historical understanding of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Brazil, has been named a Distinguished Professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College. He becomes the seventh current member of the Lehman faculty to hold this rank, which honors a small group of scholars and artists who have attained the highest levels of achievement within their fields. His appointment was approved on June 22 by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

"Dr. Bergad is a seasoned educator with an impressive scholarly record in his field of study," said Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández. "I am certain that his ongoing research and strong commitment to education will continue to enrich the academic life of his students, as well as the campus as a whole."

A member of the Lehman faculty since 1980, Prof. Bergad founded and directs the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research revolves around the social, economic, and demographic history of slave-based plantation societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Dr. Bergad was one of the first foreign scholars to be granted unrestricted access to Cuban historical archives in the 1980s. His research there resulted in two books: Cuban Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century: The Social and Economic History of Monoculture in Matanzas (Princeton University Press, 1990), which examines the evolution of the sugar plantation economy in nineteenth-century Cuba, and The Cuban Slave Market, 1790-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), which he coauthored. It was the first empirical examination of the structure of Cuban slave society during the island's reign as the Caribbean's leading sugar-producing and slave-importing nation.

Dr. Bergad has also written Coffee and the Growth of Agrarian Capitalism in Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico (Princeton University Press, 1983), The Demographic and Economic History of Slavery in Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1720-1888 (Cambridge University Press, 1999), which has been translated into Portuguese, and his most recent book, The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He has co-written Hispanics in the United States 1980-2005: A Demographic, Social, and Economic History, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.

The recipient of several internationally recognized awards, including Guggenheim, Fulbright, and National Endowment for the Humanity fellowships, Dr. Bergad was the founding director of Lehman's interdisciplinary program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, chaired the College's Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the CUNY/Cuba (and later Caribbean) Scholarly Exchange Program, as well as the CUNY-University of Puerto Rico Exchange. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.