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Lina Britto

Associate Professor

Ph.D., New York University, 2013
Curriculum Vitae


Geographic Field(s):  Latin American and Caribbean History

Thematic Field(s):  Gender and Sexuality History; Legal and Criminal History; Political and Policy History; War and Empire in History

Principal Research Interest(s):  Modern Latin America and the Caribbean; Drug History; 20th Century Colombia; U.S-Latin American Relations


Lina Britto (Ph.D., New York University, 2013) is an historian of modern Latin America and the Caribbean. Her work situates the emergence and consolidation of illegal drug smuggling networks in the Caribbean and Andean regions of Colombia in the context of a growing articulation between the South American country and the United States during the Cold War. She was awarded grants from the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies and Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University, and her dissertation won a Martin Diskin Dissertation Award honorable mention from the Latin American Studies Association in 2014. She has published her academic and journalistic work in Revista Contemporánea, the Hispanic American Historical Review, the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American HistoryNACLA: Report of the Americas, and El Espectador (Colombia). Her book, Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise (University of California Press, 2020), is based on extensive fieldwork and oral history in the Colombian Caribbean, as well as archival research in Colombia and the United States. Her courses at Northwestern focus on the hemispheric history of the drug trade and the war on drugs, popular music and nation-state formation, oral history and Cold War terror, and contemporary Latin America in historical perspective.


Affiliated Programs 


  • Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020).
  • “The Drug Wars in Colombia” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (September 2020) at
  • “‘Legalización o Represión’: How a Debate in Colombia Steered the Fate of the ‘War on Drugs’” in The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 33: 1 (Spring 2019): 88-112.
  • “Hurricane Winds: Vallenato Music and Marijuana Traffic in Colombia’s First Illegal Drugs Boom” in Hispanic American Historical Review 95:1 (February 2015).
  • “El eje guajiro: Nazis, contrabandistas y diplomáticos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Riohacha, 1940-1943” in Ricardo Oviedo, ed., Pensamiento Poscolonial. Cambio social y relaciones subalternas en América Latina (Pasto, Colombia: Universidad de Nariño, 2014).
  • “A Trafficker’s Paradise: The ‘War On Drugs’ and the New Cold War in Colombia” in Contemporánea 1:1 (2010).



Teaching Interests


  • History 300: Making Drugs in the Americas.
  • History 300: Music and Nation in Latin America.
  • History 393: Oral History and the Archives of Terror in Latin America.
  • History 102: Contemporary Latin America in Historical Perspective.


  • History 492: The Caribbean in World History
  • History 492: Modern Latin America General Field Seminar



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