April J. Mayes

Associate Dean of the College; Professor of History; Coordinator of Latin American Studies
With Pomona Since: 2006
  • Expertise


    April J. Mayes focuses her research on the Dominican Republic and teaches courses in Colonial Latin American history, Afro-Latin American history, women's and gender studies, and Africana studies. A graduate of Pomona College, Mayes was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship she used to examine Protestant women's social justice movements in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Ecuador. Afterwards, she attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where she earned a Ph.D. in history (2003), with an emphasis in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, gender, ethnicity and race in the Americas, comparative post-emancipation studies and anthro/history. While at the University of Michigan,  Mayes received the Dean's Mellon Award and a Rockefeller Grant to pursue research at the Dominican Studies Institute at City College (CUNY) in New York City. During her tenure at Pomona College, Mayes received a Fulbright Research-Teaching Fellowship (2009-2010) for research in the Dominican Republic and raised over $30,000 from the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy to support major scholarly initiatives in the Dominican Republic, including the first Transnational Hispaniola Conference and the symposium, Intercambiando Historias: Género y Política en la República Dominicana.

    Mayes is the author of the book, The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race, and National Identity in the Dominican Republic (University Press of Florida) and has published various articles in women's and gender history: "Why Dominican Feminism Moved to the Right: Class, Colour and Women's Activism in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1940s," Gender & History; "Tolerating Sex: Prostitution, Gender, and Governance in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1924," Health and Medicine in the Caribbean: Historical Perspectives; and with Stephanie Román, " 'A Patriarchal Right of Passage': An Exploration of Gendered Migration Histories and the Erasure of Women," Al-Raida, Journal of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World. She is currently finishing a two-volume collection of archival materials related to the history of Dominican Feminism, Cien Años de Feminismos Dominicanos, 1861-1965, in collaboration with Prof.  Ginetta Candelario (Smith College) and Prof. Elizabeth Manley (Xavier University). Her current project is a textbook, Women, Feminism, and Politics in Latin America, under consideration at Rutgers University Press. 

    In addition to her publications, Mayes is a an active leader in Dominican studies. As co-chair of the Haiti-Dominican Republic section of the Latin American Studies Association, Mayes, in collaboration with Prof. Kiran Jayaram, increased section membership and the section's visibility through social media. She has reviewed numerous articles for publication in Gender & History, Public Art Dialogue, Journal of Women's History, The Americas, Journal of Women’s HistoryIberoamericanaThe Black ScholarLatin American PerspectivesNew West Indian GuideHandbook of Latin American Studies, Duke University Press, Rutgers University Press, University of Alabama Press, and the University Press of Florida. Mayes is one of the co-founders of the Transnational Hispaniola collective, an intellectual initiative that serves to promote social scientific research in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic as well as cross-national dialogue and intellectual exchange. 

    Research Interests

    • The transformation of Dominican identity from brown to white in the period between 1870 and 1930.
    • The transnational movement of ideas among African-descended political leaders in the United States, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic during the nineteenth century.

    Areas of Expertise


    • Colonial and Modern Caribbean History
    • Colonial and Modern Latin American History
    • Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas
    • Sugar Production in the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean
    • U.S.-Latin American Relations
    • Transnational Migration, Gender, Race, and Sexuality
    • Latin American and Caribbean Women's History, Feminist Theory, and Feminist Activism
    • Afro-Latin America; Black/Africana Studies
    • Dominican Republic
    • U.S.-Latin American/Caribbean Relations
  • Work


    "The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race and Dominican National Identity." (University Press of Florida, 2014)

    "Transnational Hispaniola: Toward New Paradigms in Haitian and Dominican Studies," with the collaboration of Carlos Decena, Yolanda Martin, Kiran Jayaram, and Yveline Alexis, Radical History Review, 26-32, Winter 2013

    "The Mestizo Republic: Dominican National Identity in the Age of Sugar, 1870-1940." In progress and under contract with the University Press of Florida

    "Why Dominican Feminism Moved to the Right: Class, Class, Colour and Women’s Activism in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1940s," Gender & History, vol. 20, issue 2, August, 2008

    "Tolerating Sex: Prostitution, Gender, and Governance in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1924," in Health and Medicine in the Caribbean: Historical Perspectives (J. De Barros, S. Palmer and D. Wright, eds., New York/London: Routledge Press, 2008)

  • Education


    University of Michigan

    Bachelor of Arts
    Pomona College

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Afro-Latin American
    • Colonial Latin American History
    • Gender & Nation: Modern Latin America
    • Latin American Women's History
    • Sexuality, Race, and Empire in the Modern Caribbean
    • The Caribbean: Crucible Modernity
    • U.S.-Latin American Relations
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fulbright Scholars Program, Lecture/Research Grant to finish manuscript and begin study on the importance of women during the colonial era in the Dominican Republic, affiliated with the Instituto Filisófico Pedro Francisco Bonó, 2009-10

    Pomona College, Minority Scholar-in-Residence, 2002-2003

    Rockefeller Foundation, Humanities Fellowship, Dominican Studies Institute, City University of New York, 1999

    University of Michigan; Mellon Dean's Fellowship, 1998; Rackham Merit Fellowship, 1995-2000

    Thomas J. Watson Foundation, Fellowship, 1994-1995