Casey Marina Lurtz is a historian of modern Latin America and an assistant professor in the History Department at Johns Hopkins University.


I am a historian who explores how rural people understood, encountered, and shaped the world beyond their horizons and the landscapes beneath their feet. While mostly focused on Latin America, I am invested in tracing ties that stretched across oceans, in looking at how even a worn-down cabin at the end of a dirt trail became part of a globalized world.

My recent book, From the Grounds Up: Building an Export Economy in Southern Mexico, uses the development of southern Mexico's coffee economy to explain how engagement with global markets was shaped by resilient local political and social structures. The project also engages the history of global migrations and provides a picture of localized international commerce in the hands of Mexican and foreign planters, merchants, and politicians. It was published by Stanford University Press in spring 2019.

During the 2019-2020 academic year, I am a fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies, continuing work on a new book project that examines ideas of development, or fomento, in Latin America’s post-Independence era. Instead of asking how Latin America fell behind, the project seeks to understand how Latin American politicians, intellectuals, and producers thought about getting ahead.

Current Book Project →

Publications →

I teach courses related to Latin America, Mexico, commodities and the history of capitalism, migration, and development. 


Education &
Past Postitions

I received my Ph.D. with distinction in Latin American History from the University of Chicago in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, I was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International & Area Studies. I was the Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in Business History at the Harvard Business School from 2014-2015, and a fellow at the UC San Diego Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies from 2013-2014.

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