Sweeney photo

Lean Sweeney

Assistant Professor, General Faculty

Nau Hall 254
Office Hours: TR, 10:30AM-12:30PM on Zoom

Field & Specialties

Transnational History, Indigenous Latin America, Legal History, Frontiers and Borderlands


B.A. University of California, 1994

M.A. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2004

Ph.D University of New Mexico, 2019


Lean Sweeney received her doctorate in Latin American History from the University of New Mexico in 2019. Her work focuses on the impact of theories of space, frontiers and borderlands on the creation of nations, citizens, race and criminality. The Spanish language version of her Master's thesis, Survival of the Bandits: the Maya Icaiché and Frontier Politics in the Yucatan Peninsula, 1847-1904, was published by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 2006. Her doctoral dissertation, entitled Statewise: Jurisdictional Fictions, Transnational Politics and Remaking the Nation State on the Chiapas-Guatemala Border, 1821-1899, looks at the way marginalized, transnational actors played critical roles in defining the limits of Mexican and Guatemalan territory as well as the course of these countries’ international relations.  She has also published on the role of Maximilian of Habsburg’s execution in framing U.S.-Mexican nineteenth century diplomacy, as well as numerous translations on Mexican art and culture.  Her current projects include expanding her work on transnational communities and state-making in Mexico and Central America as well as an analysis of representations of the modern Maya in Mexico's National Anthropology Museum, including the mid-1990s' suspension of the Modern Maya exhibit during the Zapatista uprising.

Courses Taught

HILA 3051: Modern Central America

HILA 1501: Latin American Borderlands

HILA 3021: Human Rights in Latin America

HILA 1501: Gender Violence, Migration and U.S.-Latin American Relations

HILA 3559: Race and State in Mexico

EGMT 1530: Talking Trash