May’s Professor of the Month

Hello Aggies! I am Professor Neil Harvey. I have been teaching at NMSU since 1994. I am from Liverpool, United Kingdom. I was born and grew up there. I studied BA (Hons) Latin American Studies at Portsmouth Polytechnic, and my MA and Ph.D at the University of Essex, Colchester, UK. My field of study is Political Science, with a focus on Latin American politics, particularly Mexico.

Something I enjoy doing outside of NMSU is traveling with family and friends. I like visiting new places, planning the trips, what to see and eat. One of my favorite places to travel is San Cristóbal de Las Chiapas, Mexico. I first visited this town in the highlands of Chiapas as a grad student in 1984. It was pretty sleepy town known to tourists for its colonial architecture, but also marked by the continued dominance of the local wealthy elite over the majority poor indigenous population. The growing organization of indigenous communities and their ability to make alliance with human rights advocates, students, priests and journalists, led to a gradual transformation of the town by the end of the 1980s. The indigenous peoples’ Zapatista rebellion in 1994 furhter challenged the tradtional social structure as San Cristóbal de Las Casas became a vibrant center for the assertion of indigenous peoples’ rights and the reimagining of more inclusive and just societies. I also love most pop and rock music. I have been active in community work advocating and educating about immigrants’ rights and the need for immigration reform.

My favorite book is called “Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos”, Edited by Juana Ponce de León. It is a great collection of communiques by Marcos and the Zapatista movement in Mexico that mixes poetry, storytelling and political analysis in a refreshing and hopeful way. My favorite quote is “Vamos, yo lo acompaño.” (“Come on, I will accompany you”) . Attributed by Elena Poniatowska to the Mexican human rights activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, speaking about how she supported victims of government repression in the 1970s as they documented abuses and demanded justice. The quote is a simple but powerful commitment of solidarity, one that is vital today in Mexico and around the world.

I recommend the Honors College because the program encourages you to make connections between different fields or majors. For example, my class this semeser (Hons 248G Citizen and the State) is not just for government students, but talks about political ideas that influence all aspects of society, from public health to business or agricultural development. However, I would like to see more experiential learning opportunities that support the needs of border communities in the US and Mexico.

My best advice to students is to get to know your professors. They are the people who can see your potential and can also inform you about great opportunities. They will also write awesome reference letters if they see you are motivated and serious about your goals.

Neil Harvey

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