Brett Robert

A bearded man in a forest

Ph.D. Candidate

20th Century Caribbean and Latin America

My dissertation focuses on a massive hurricane that killed thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless in September of 1928 as it trailed destruction throughout the Caribbean, from Guadeloupe, to Puerto Rico, and finally Florida. Depicted in novels, songs, and paintings, the storm was known by many names, Cyclone '28, San Felipe, and the Okeechobee Hurricane among them. Alongside cultural sources like art and novels, my research analyzes scientific papers, government records, relief organization records, and oral histories in French, English, and Spanish to grapple with the legacies of this tempest. 

This interest in transregional histories that link Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States began during my M.A. work at the California State University Northridge. While there I investigated the local impact of the opening of the Panama Canal on the growth of the City of Los Angeles, including its annexation of San Pedro and Wilmington and the creation of a Harbor Department to reshape the city's economy and spur industrial growth.

I have presented at the Latin American Studies Association Congress, Pacific Coast Branch Conference of the American Historical Association, the Whitsett Graduate Seminar, and the Penn in Latin America and the Caribbean conference. 

Advisor: Ann Farnsworth-Alvear


M.A. in History, University of Pennsylvania, 2019.
M.A. in History, California State University Northridge, 2017.
B.A. in History, Sonoma State University, 2012.

Research Interests

Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Florida, 20th Century, Caribbean, Latin America, translocal/transnational history, global microhistory, environmental history, history of science/science studies, disasters, Latin America-United States Relations, Latin American art history, decolonization, oral history

Courses Taught

Teaching Assistant or Grader for:
History 71 - Modern Latin America, Spring 2020
History 70 - Colonial Latin America, Fall 2019
History 155 - Introduction to Asian American History, Spring 2019
History 174 - Capitalism, Socialism, and Crisis in the Twentieth-Century Americas, Fall 2018

Selected Publications

"Home and History: Twentieth-Century Cuba in the Landscapes of Roger Toledo"


Latin American Studies Association Puerto Rico section