Americas and Africa

The Americas and Africa caucus invites students to explore the complex history of intercultural encounter, exchange, and conflict that connects South, Central, and North America and the diverse nations of Africa. Courses in this concentration locate these regions within larger global movements of people, goods, and ideas. Major topical themes in the concentration include Indigenous history, African diaspora, immigration, gender, labor, religion, social movements, politics, and critical history of race. Courses in this concentration extend from the colonial era to the modern day and reflect interdisciplinary approaches to historical practice.

Major Requirements

The history major requires a minimum of 12 unique courses. At least eight of the 12 courses must be upper-division (HIS 100-199). A maximum of four courses, including the introductory survey course, may be lower-division (HIS 1-99).

Major Planning Worksheet

Copy a History Major Planning Worksheet to your UCSC Google Drive.

Region of Concentration: Americas and Africa (6 courses)

I. One lower-division introductory survey course:

All of the above courses satisfy the Ethnicity and Race (ER) general education requirement.

II. Four additional Americas and Africa courses, three of which must be upper-division

III. One Americas and Africa Comprehensive Requirement

Historical Skills and Methods (1 course)

IV. HIS 100, Historical Skills and Methods

HIS 100 introduce history majors to historical methods and provides preparation for advanced historical research. Students develop critical reading, historical analysis, research, and disciplinary writing skills. HIS 100 also satisfies the Textual Analysis and Interpretation (TA) general education requirement.

Students who enter UCSC as frosh are expected to complete HIS 100 by the end of their second year. Transfer students are expected to complete HIS 100 no later than their second term at UCSC.

Catalog of Course Requirements

The History Catalog of Course Requirements indicates what region(s) of concentration and what chronological distribution requirement(s) individual history courses may apply toward.

Breadth Requirements (4 courses)

V. Two courses from each of the remaining two regions of concentration:

Upper-Division Elective (1 course)

One additional upper-division history course of your choice from any of the three regions of concentration

Distribution Requirements

Of the 12 courses required for the major, at least three must meet chronological distribution requirements. One must be set before 600 C.E., and two must be set in periods prior to the year 1800 C.E.

Intensive Major Option

The intensive history major offers students a pathway to enrich their study of history, refine their skills in writing and research, and receive a designation on their transcripts that signals their ambition and accomplishment to potential employers and graduate schools. All history majors are eligible to declare the intensive track, including junior transfers. If a student attempts but does not complete the intensive track they may still graduate with a standard history degree, provided the appropriate major coursework has been completed.

Aims McGuinness
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Affiliations History Department, Research Center for the Americas
  • Phone
    (831) 459-3701
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Stevenson College Academic Building, 278
  • Office Hours Winter 2021: Fridays 10:00 am-12:00 pm and by appointment; email at least 24 hours in advance to set up Zoom meeting during office hours.
  • Mail Stop Stevenson Academic Services
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise History

Summary of Expertise

Modern Latin America with a focus on Panama, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean. U.S. empire. California Gold Rush. History of socialist politics with a focus on Wisconsin and the Midwest. Transnational, global, and world history. 

Research Interests

Race, popular politics, and U.S. empire in 19th and 20th-century Panama; socialist politics during the early years of the Cold War with a focus on Frank P. Zeidler, mayor of Milwaukee from 1948-1960.

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D., History, University of Michigan, 2001. A.B., History, Princeton University, 1990. 

Honors, Awards and Grants

Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fall 2019 

Research in the Humanities Award, U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2009

Morris Fromkin Research Grant and Fellowship (with Jasmine Alinder), U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2004

Fellow. Center for 21st Century Studies, U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2003-2004

Huntington Fellowship, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, Spring 2003

W.M. Keck Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, Spring 2003

Fulbright Scholarship for Panama and Colombia, 1997-1998

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 1993-1996

Preson Slosson Fellowship, History Department, U. of Michigan, 1993-1997

Phi Beta Kappa, Princeton University, 1990

Selected Publications


McGuinness, Aims. Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008. Paperback edition, 2009.

Edited Books

Banerjee, Sukanya, Aims McGuinness, and Steven McKay, eds. New Routes for Diaspora Studies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

Scott, Rebecca J., Thomas C. Holt, Frederick Cooper, and Aims McGuinness, eds. Societies after Slavery: A Select Annotated Bibliography of Printed Sources on the British West Indies, South Africa, British Colonial Africa, Cuba, and Brazil. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002.

Articles and Book Chapters

McGuinness, Aims. "Mourning María Pantalones: Military Rule and the Politics of Race, Citizenship, and Nostalgia in Panama." In Caribbean Military Encounters, edited by Shalini Puri and Lara Putnam. New York/London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Lasso, Marixa and Aims McGuinness. "Alfredo Castillero en la historia global: la perspectiva de dos discípulos." In Historia y globalización: ensayos en homenaje a Alfredo Castillero Calvo. Bogotá: Editora Nova Art, 2017.

McGuinness, Aims. "Afterword: Diaspora and the Language of Neoliberalism." In New Routes for Diaspora Studies, edited by Sukanya Banerjee, Aims McGuinness, and Steven McKay. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

McGuinness, Aims. "The Revolution Begins Here: Milwaukee and the History of Socialism." In Perspectives on Milwaukee's Past, edited by Margo Anderson and Victor Greene. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012. 

McGuinness, Aims. "Sovereignty on the Isthmus: Federalism, U.S. Empire, and the Struggle for Panama during the California Gold Rush." In The State of Sovereignty: Territories, Laws, Populations, edited by Douglas Howland and Luise White. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

McGuinness, Aims. "La llegada del fantasma: la retirada de William Walker por Panamá y las raíces del imperialismo estadounidense en América Latina." Boletín de la Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica 36 (June 2008).

McGuinness, Aims. "In Defense of the Isthmus: Fighting Against Filibusters in Panama City in 1856." Maryland Historian 29, no. 1-2 (Winter 2005): 7-22.

McGuinness, Aims. "Aquellos tiempos de California: el Ferrocarril de Panamá y la transformación de la zona de tránsito durante la Fiebre del Oro." In Historia General de Panamá, edited by Alfredo Castillero Calvo, 141-159. Panamá: República de Panamá, 2004. Reissued in 2020.

McGuinness, Aims. "Defendiendo el Istmo: las luchas contra los filibusteros en la Ciudad de Panamá en 1856. Mesoamérica 24, no. 45 (enero-diciembre de 2003): 66-84.

McGuinness, Aims. "Raza, patriotismo e intervención estadounidense en Panamá, 1848-1860." In Historia y Memoria: sociedad, cultra y vida cotidiana en Cuba, 1878-1917, edited by José Amador, 244-263. Havana: Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program of the University of Michigan, 2003.

McGuinness, Aims. "The Trials of Sovereignty: Justo Arosemena's Critique of the Nation in El Estado Federal de Panamá." Istmo: revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos (noviembre-diciembre de 2003).

McGuinness, Aims. "Searching for 'Latin America': Race and Sovereignty in the Americas in the 1850s." In Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, edited by Nancy Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, 87-107. Chapel Hill: University of North Caroina Press, 2003. 


Selected Presentations

"Progressives, Populists, and Socialists." Panelist. Conference of the Wisconsin Labor History Society. March 28, 2020. (Canceled.)

"Reinventing Municipal Socialism: Popular Mobilization and Urban Politics in Cold War MIlwaukee, 1948-1960." Presented at the annual conference of the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA), Durham, NC. June 1, 2019.

"Rethinking Panama: Empire, Race, and Migration." Roundtable Participant. Conference of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Barcelona, Spain. May 25, 2018.

"Lost Worlds? Touring the Radical Past with Milwaukee's Most Recent Socialist Mayor." Presented at the Labor History Seminar, Center for American History and Culture Programs. Newberry Library. Chicago, IL. January 29, 2016.

"Tramping Across History: Transnational History's Temporality Problem." Presented at "The Transnational Turn in the Humanities," a conference organized by the University of Buffalo Humanities Institute and the Department of Transnational Studies at the University of Buffalo, March 22-23, 2013." 

"History of an Unnamed Country: Political Fictions of Latin America, 1846-1918." Presented at the conference of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Toronto, Ontario, September 2010. 

"La historia de la California." Invited speech at the Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá. Panama City, Panamá. June 2010.

"Género y el imperialismo en Panamá durante la California: Jenny White del Bal." Presented at the Universidad de Panamá, Santiago de Veraguas. June 2010.

Selected Exhibitions

Curator. "Panamanian Passages/Pasajes Panameños." Smithsonian Institution, Ripley Center. October 2009-May 2010. This exhibition was a collaboration between the Smithsonian Latino Center, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá.

Teaching Interests

Latin America, Panama and U.S. empire, California Gold Rush.