John Womack

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John Womack, Jr. (born 1937) is an historian of Latin America, particularly of Mexico, the Mexican Revolution (1910–1921) and Emiliano Zapata. In June 2009 he retired from his post as the Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics at Harvard University.

Womack was born in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1937 to John Womack Sr., also a historian. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1959 and became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. In the 1960s he returned to Harvard to earn a Ph.D. in history, doing research that gave him international prestige and his most famous book: Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (1969). His dissertation earned him a place at Harvard as an assistant professor of Latin American History. The published monograph was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and he was named to the Robert Woods Bliss Chair in Latin American History, first held by Clarence Haring.[1] Womack has focused on modern Mexican history, with interests in Cuban and Colombian history, leading research in agrarian, industrial, and labor history. After his monograph on Zapata, which inspired many other scholars to pursue projects on grassroots rural history,[2] he shifted his focus to urban working-class history.[3] In 1978, he published an article in the short-lived (1978-80) and largely unavailable journal Marxist Perspectives on the Mexican economy during the Revolution.[4] His article in the Cambridge History of Latin America was anthologized in Mexico Since Independence.[5] In 1999, he published an article on the Moctezuma beer brewery.[6] In 2005, he published a long article assessing the state of labor history.[7] His 1999 anthology of documents Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader places the Chiapas struggle in a historical perspective back to the 16th century.[8]

On November 21, 2009, Womack received the 1808 Medal from the Mexico City government. He gave it up to the Mexican Union of Electricians, saying: "My infinite respect for the ability of Mexicans to transform in benefit of the majority their moments of crisis. Such conviction moves me to give honor and deliver this medal to the most important, most courageous organization that took form in this city during the revolutionary wars at the beginning of the last century, the Mexican Union of Electricians".[9] Adela Pineda Franco and Jaime Marroquín Arrendondo interviewed Womack about his views of the Mexican Revolution, the movie Viva Zapata, and the relevance of Zapata in modern Mexico. "In Mexico, for complicated, still largely unexamined historical reasons, the exploited classes cannot count on politicians or intellectuals for guidance to overthrow the systems of exploitation, centered in New York, proliferated into centers in Mexico, concentrated, of course in Mexico City. Like the people in Morelos, 1900-1911, the exploited have to figure out for themselves, not trusting the politicians they know whatever they howl, whatever they promise."[10]

Womack also serves on the board of directors for FFIPP-USA (Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace-USA), a network of Palestinian, Israeli, and International faculty and students working to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Womack is the maternal grandfather of the late artist Lil Peep.[11]


  • "Doing Labor History: Feelings, Work, Material Power" in Journal of the Historical Society (2005)
  • Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader (1999)
  • Zapata and the Mexican Revolution Vintage (1969) ISBN 0-394-70853-9
  • Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (1968)
  • Oklahoma’s Green Corn Rebellion: The Importance of Fools. Harvard, senior thesis (1959)
  • Emiliano Zapata and the Revolution in Morelos, 1910-1920. Harvard, Ph.D. dissertation (1966)
  • The Revolution That Wasn't: Mexico, 1910-1920 The New Press, 2011.


  1. ^ John D. French and Daniel James, "The Travails of Doing Labor History: The Restless Wanderings of John Womack, Jr." Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas vol. 4(2) 2007, p. 96.
  2. ^ French, John D. "The Latin American Labor Studies Boom." International Review of Social History vol. 45(2)2000.
  3. ^ French and James, ibid.
  4. ^ John Womack, Jr. "The Mexican Economy during the Revolution, 1910-1920: Historiography and Analysis," Marxist Perspectives I, no. 4 (1978) 80-123.
  5. ^ John Womack, Jr. "The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920," Mexico Since Independence, Leslie Bethell, ed. Cambridge University Press 1991, pp. 125-200.
  6. ^ John Womack, Jr. "Work in the Moctezuma Brewery", in Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, eds. New Your: Routledge 1999, 347-60.
  7. ^ John Womack, Jr. "Doing Labor History: Feeling, Work, Material Power," Journal of the Historical Society vol. 5(3)2005, pp. 255-96.
  8. ^ John Womack, Jr. Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader, New Press 1999.
  9. ^ "México exige una reorganización política profunda y responsable: John Womack". Retrieved 24 November 2008.
  10. ^ "Interview with John Womack" by Adela Pineda Franco and Jaime Marroquín Arredondo in Open Borders to a Revolution: Culture, Politics, and Migration, edited by Jaime Marroquín Arredondo, Adela Pineda Franco, and Magdalena Mieri. Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press 2013, p. 5.
  11. ^ Quinn Moreland, The Lil Peep Documentary Everybody’s Everything Is a Cautionary Tale of Modern Music Stardom, The Pitch (Pitchfork), November 14, 2019.

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