Elise Arnold-Levene holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American and Iberian Cultures from Columbia University and a B.A. in Hispanic Studies from McGill University. She specializes in 19th- and 20th-century Latin American and Caribbean literature and cultural studies. Her interests include Afro-Cuban studies, indigenismo, visual and material culture, and transatlantic intellectual history. She works at the intersection between literature, history, and anthropology.
Her dissertation, “Lydia Cabrera, the Storyteller as Collector,” takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of this central figure in 20th century Cuban culture. It explores Cabrera’s work as a writer and anthropologist, her dictionaries and glossaries of Afro-Cuban languages and traditions, and her work on conservation of Spanish colonial architecture and antiques in Old Havana and the surrounding area.
Elise has published and presented widely on her research, and she has taught courses in Spanish language, translation studies, and Latin American literature and culture at Columbia University. She has studied at the University of Havana and the University of Buenos Aires, and she was a 2015-2016 Cuban Heritage Collection Research Fellow at the University of Miami. She has worked on organic farms across South America.