I am a scholar of Latin American History, focussing on Mexico, Cuba, and the Circum-Caribbean region from the twentieth century to the present. My first book titled A Persistent Revolution examined the role of Mexican revolutionary nationalism in Mexico's political and economic transitions from 1968 to the early twenty-first century. I am currently working on a book exploring the life and work of Cuban-born designer Clara Porset who became a pioneer of modern design in Mexico during the 1940s & 1950s. This book covers topics including transnational political activism, design and architectural history, cultural diplomacy, and Cold War cultural politics.
I research Latin America and particularly Mexico since the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917. I am particularly interested in the interaction between the roles of myths, symbols, and meaning in politics. This research has driven research on topics including nationalism and neoliberalism in post-1982 Mexico, political exile, design, and architecture in mid-twentieth century Mexico, and Cold War cultural diplomacy in Latin America.
In my book A Persistent Revolution: History, Nationalism, and Politics in Mexico since 1968 , I examine how Mexican Revolutionary nationalism helped to serve as a language of communication between political actors in Mexico during a period of political and economic transition. Most notably, I showed how revolutionary nationalism and historical myths and symbols served not just as a top-down form of political instruction but as a discourse that could be wielded “from below” to at times effectively constrain the options available to Mexican political and economic elites.
My current book project adopts a semi-biographical focus on Cuban-born designer Clara Porset and her exile in Mexico from 1935 to 1981. This research was conducted as part of the European Research Council project "Left-wing Exile in Mexico, 1934-1960." Focusing on Porset and her designs, I am exploring the intersection of political exile, transnational left-wing political networks, and modern design in Mexico and the circum-Caribbean region in the mid-twentieth century. This includes the role of hub cities such as New York City and Mexico City as sites of political cross-pollination and transformation from the inter-war period to the Cold War. I am also studying the role of individuals such as Porset in the “Cultural Cold War” between the United States and the Soviet Union from the 1940s to the 1960s.
2007-2012: PhD (History) at La Trobe University, Australia
2010-2013: Lecturer and Tutor at La Trobe University, Australia
2013-2016: Postdoctoral researcher on ERC-Project "Left-wing Exile in Mexico, 1934-60" at University of Cologne, Germany
Grants and awards
Australian Postgraduate Awards Scholarship (2007-2011)
Bachelor of International Studies
Master of International Relations
- Herrán Ávila L., Hyland S. & Sheppard R.C. (18 February 2019), Luis Herrán Ávila and Randal Sheppard on AMLO. Historias [podcast].
- Sheppard R.C. (2018), El exilio y la política transnacional en el diseño de Clara Porset. In: Díaz Silva E., Reimann A., Sheppard R. (Eds.) Horizontes del exilio. Nuevas aproximaciones a la experiencia de los exilios entre Europa y América Latina durante el siglo XX. Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana Vervuert. 91-123.
- Díaz Silva E., Reimann A. & Sheppard R.C. (Eds.) (2018), Horizontes del exilio. Nuevas aproximaciones a la experiencia de los exilios entre Europa y América Latina durante el siglo XX. Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana Vervuert.
- Sheppard R.C. (2018), Clara Porset in Mid Twentieth-Century Mexico: The Politics of Designing, Producing, and Consuming Revolutionary Nationalist Modernity, Americas 75(2): 349-379.
- Randal Sheppard (11 January 2017), Blurring Boundaries: The Creation of EPCOT Center’s Mexico Pavilion. LARR Blog. University of Pittsburgh: Panoramas Scholarly Platform [blog entry].
- Sheppard R.C. (2016), A Persistent Revolution: History, Nationalism, and Politics in Mexico Since 1968. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
- Sheppard R.C. (2016), Mexico Goes to Disney World: Recognizing and Representing Mexico at EPCOT Center’s Mexico Pavilion, Latin American Research Review 51(3): 64-84.
- Sheppard R.C. (3 December 2015), Revolutionary Chic: Left-Wing Exiles, Design, and Urbanism in Mexico City. Global Urban History [blog entry].
- Sheppard R.C. (2011), Nationalism, economic crisis and ‘realistic revolution’ in 1980s Mexico, Nations and Nationalism 17(3): 500-519.