Sophie Esch

WEBSITE(S)| Latin American Studies | Spanish and Portuguese | Politics, Law & Social Thought | Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality | Personal Website


  • PhD, Tulane University


Research and Teaching

  • Mexican, Central American, and Luso-African Literature and Culture
  • Comparative Literature
  • Revolutions and War in the Global South
  • Animal Studies and Environmental Humanities


Recent Courses

  • LASR 378 Latin American Political Thought
  • LASR 350 Pirates, Rebels, Narcos
  • SPPO 356 Understanding Central America
  • HUMA 124 Is this the End?


Sophie Esch studies the intersection of literature, politics, and war in modern Latin America and Africa. She specializes in Mexican, Central American and Luso-African literature and culture. Her first book, Modernity at Gunpoint: Firearms, Politics, and Culture in Mexico and Central America, received the 2019 Best Book in the Humanities Award of the Mexico section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). The book provides a critical exploration of the political and cultural significance of firearms in the Mexican Revolution, the Sandinista Revolution, postwar Central America, and the drug war in Mexico.

Her current book project, Writing War Beyond the Human, shows that animals and other nonhuman entities are central to the discussion, conception, and contemplation of armed conflict in Latin America and Africa. She  is also working on a second book project, Latitudes of Love and War, which examines questions of intimacy and ideology in representations of South-South and North-South solidarity in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Angola, and she is editing a volume on Central American Literature as World Literature.  

Esch is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow (2022-24) and was a Fellow of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (2007-8) and of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University (2017-18), and she also received funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities (2020). At Rice, she directs the program in Latin American and Latinx Studies and she is a faculty affiliate of Politics, Law & Social Thought and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. 


Selected Publications


1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Ed., Passages: Routes of Migration and Memory in Central American Literature, special dossier of Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 54/1 (2020).
  • Modernity at Gunpoint: Firearms, Politics, and Culture in Mexico and Central America (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). Spanish translation 2022. 
  • Ed. with Silke Helfrich, Martha Delgado, Hilda Salazar, María Luisa Torregrosa, and Iván Zúñiga, La gota de la vida: Hacia una gestión sustentable y democrática del agua (Mexico City: Ediciones Böll, 2006).


2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Learning from Senselessness: The Act of Reading in Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez,” in Mónica Elizabeth Chacón and Mónica Albizúrez Gil (eds.), Teaching Central American Literature in a Global Context (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2022). 
  • With Alicia Miklos, “Stories of Giving Birth in Central America: Class, Race, and Politics in Women’s Health,” in David Dalton and Doug Weatherford (eds.), Healthcare in Latin America: A Reader (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2022), 169-183.
  • “Hippopotamus Dead or Alive: Animals and Trauma in Narratives of the Drug War,” Revista Hispánica Moderna 74/2 (2021), 184-199.
  • “Uneven Battles: Central American Cold War Literature,” in Andrew Hammond (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook on Cold War Literature (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 451-69.
  • “Naturaleza, tecnología y guerra: Modernidad encantada en la musicá sandinista,” TRANS: Revista Transcultural de Musicá 24 (2020), 1-13.  
  • “El rifle como reliquia en las memorias letradas sandinistas: Gioconda Belli y Sergio Ramírez,” Revista Telar 21 (2018), 113-36.
  • “¿El arma en la sociedad? La novela del desmovilizado, militarismo e introspección en la obra de Castellanos Moya,” in Magdalena Perkowska and Oswaldo Zavala (eds.), Tiranas ficciones: Poéticas y políticas de la escritura en la obra de Horacio Castellanos Moya (Pittsburgh, PA: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, 2018), 189-211.
  • “In the Company of Animals: Otherness, Empathy, and Community in De fronteras by Claudia Hernández,”Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 51/3 (2017), 571-93.
  • “In the Crossfire: Rascón Banda’s Contrabando and the ‘Narcoliterature’ Debate in Mexico,” Latin American Perspectives 41/2 (2014), 161-76.


                  Esch Book1