Esther Whitfield

Esther Whitfield

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies
Phone: +1 401 863 3277
[email protected]

My work focuses on war metaphors in Latin American political speech, literature and the arts; and on Welsh writing in the Americas. I have also worked extensively on Cuban culture of the post-Soviet period and on contemporary Latin American and Caribbean literature more broadly.


Esther Whitfield grew up in Cardiff, Wales. She received a B.A. in Modern Languages from Oxford University in 1994 and a Ph. D. in Romance Languages & Literatures from Harvard University in 2001. She taught for a year as a lecturer in Harvard's Program in History and Literature before joining the faculty of Brown's Department of Comparative Literature in 2002.  As of Fall 2013 she has a second appointment in the Department of Hispanic Studies.


Whitfield teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Latin American, Caribbean and European literature.


Her current research project is titled "War and Metaphor in the Americas."  It analyzes uses of "war" in Latin American political speech, literature and the arts since the mid-twentieth century, with specific reference to the militarization of social policy in Cuba, Guantánamo Bay and the "War on Terror," the "Dirty War" in Argentina and Mexico's ongoing drug wars.  A second ongoing project, from which she has published several articles, is "Remembering the Welsh of Patagonia." It addresses recent representations of nineteenth-century Welsh emigration to Patagonia, Argentina, and the intersections of these with debates on nationalism, language rights and ethnic studies in both Wales and Argentina.

Her first book, Cuban Currency: The Dollar and 'Special Period' Fiction (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), explores how the emergence of export markets for Cuban culture is inscribed in contemporary fiction.  She is co-editor, with Anke Birkenmaier, of Havana Beyond the Ruins (Duke University Press, 2011), a collection of essays on post-1989 Havana; and, with Jacqueline Loss, of an anthology of Cuban short fiction in translation, New Short Fiction from Cuba (Northwestern University Press, 2007). She wrote a critical introduction to Antonio José Ponte's Un arte de hacer ruinas (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005) and has published a number of journal articles and book chapters on contemporary Latin American fiction and the literary and cultural expression of Welsh emigrants to Patagonia.