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Dr. Arturo Lopez-Levy on understanding our American identity

Arturo Lopez-LevyLast fall, Holy Names University welcomed Dr. Arturo Lopez-Levy to our faculty as Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations. A go-to political analyst for CNN Spanish and many other TV and radio programs in the U.S. and international media, Dr. Lopez-Levy brings a deep understanding of his fields of interest to our academic community. His research focuses on asymmetry and revolution in international relations, the political economy of development, Cuba, Mexico, Latin America, Latino politics, and the U.S. role in world affairs. Last spring, he was a Fulbright visiting professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

Following is an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Lopez-Levy:

What do you want students to understand about your field?

I’m an immigrant teaching International Relations in the most relevant country in the world. The U.S., because of its power and the type of society it represents, is a key factor in every single international issue of importance. An International Relations professor in the U.S. has to be conscious of the connections and juxtapositions between our domestic political dynamics and our global role. For example, because of the outsized presence of the U.S. in the media and the public discourse, what happens here doesn’t just stay here. Topics such as gender equality, immigration, our economic model, and many others have important resonance in the rest of the world. Also, America is many countries. The state of California and its Latin American influence is a different country from southern Texas where it’s not clear where Mexico begins and the U.S. ends. I have come to HNU with the task of preparing American students to be part of a global identity.

What do you wish more people knew about international politics and economics?

I actually strive to be a traditional professor. Though I’m open to critical theories and use them, I believe that my role is to teach students about international problems that a majority of scholars in the field consider important. While these topics can have embedded biases, I believe that in order to challenge the narratives, you first need to know them well. Sequencing is important.

People have noticed that I’m more “alternative” in my writing than in my classrooms and I do this on purpose. In my writing, I enjoy my freedom and individuality. In my classrooms, I teach the fundamentals and really try to eliminate any of my own biases. Of course, it is impossible to have zero biases but developing an awareness of them is critical.

I will say that my Hispanic background does inform discussions about foreign policy, history, and political science. I am Cuban and my research explores Latin America and its relationship to Russia, China, and the U.S. I am interested in the role of the Hispanic community as a bridge between the U.S. and Latin America. As a professor, a researcher, and a citizen, I see myself as part of that bridge. It’s important to widen this bridge so that cultures can freely move back and forth and take advantage of “living in the hyphen.”

Read more about Dr. Lopez-Levy.