The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu

Diana Sierra Becerra

Assistant Professor of History

(413) 545-6787

Herter Hall 715

Diana Sierra Becerra is a historian of women and gender in Latin America who specializes in social movements and revolutions.

Her book manuscript is tentatively titled, Insurgent Butterflies: Gender and Revolution in El Salvador. It tells the stories of peasant and working-class women who fought for a world without capitalists, imperialists, and patriarchs. Drawing from over fifty interviews and new archival sources, the book demonstrates how women confronted sexism and developed a vision of women’s liberation within the workers’ movement of the mid-to-late twentieth-century. It narrates a dynamic and contentious political process in which rank-and-file women changed the meaning and course of revolution. Their powerful history challenges dominant characterizations of revolutionary movements as monolithic, static, and dominated by urban male intellectuals, moving us to rethink dominant conceptions about armed struggle and feminism.

As a public scholar, Sierra Becerra has collaborated with Salvadoran and U.S. museums and art galleries as well as global networks of historic sites. At the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen in San Salvador, she curated exhibitions and developed educational programming. At the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, which organizes food system workers in three counties in Western Massachusetts, she used her popular education training to cultivate worker leadership. These experiences have fundamentally shaped her pedagogy, which encourages students to approach history as a tool to address current-day injustices. 

Most recently, she worked with scholars Jennifer Guglielmo and Michelle Joffroy, and organizers from the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) to develop the project “Putting History in Domestic Workers’ Hands.” The project views history as an organizing tool to mobilize domestic workers on a massive scale. The $2.3 million project includes a digital timeline on the history of domestic worker organizing, four educational videos, a political education curriculum, biographies and hand-painted portraits of twenty-one movement ancestors, and a website for curriculum facilitators. Committed to language justice, the project translated its materials into five languages, including English, Spanish, Tagalog, Nepali, and Haitian Creole.

As the popular education coordinator, Sierra Becerra researched domestic worker history and developed a curriculum composed of 17 workshops that draw from the history presented in the digital timeline. The curriculum is divided into two parts. Part 1 explores how oppressive systems such as capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, and patriarchy have shaped domestic work, and how domestic workers have organized radical alternatives. Part 2 explores NDWA strategies to build power and improve labor standards. Additionally, Sierra Becerra trained a cohort of sixteen domestic worker leaders as historians, and thirty-five NDWA affiliates across the country to implement the curriculum in their own organizations. As a formerly undocumented immigrant and the proud daughter of a former domestic worker, she dedicates the spirit of the curriculum to her mother.


“Harvesting Hope: Building Worker Power at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 19, no. 1 (2020): 209-236.

“For Our Total Emancipation: The Making of Revolutionary Feminism in Insurgent El Salvador, 1977-1987,” in Making the Revolution: Histories of the Latin American Left, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

“The First Black Miss Colombia and the Limits of Multiculturalism.” Latin American Caribbean and Ethnic Studies 12, no.1 (2017): 71-90

“Historical Memory at El Salvador’s Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen.” Latin American Perspectives 43, no.6 (2016): 8-26.

Co-written with Kevin A. Young. “How ‘Partnership’ Weakens Solidarity: Colombian GM Workers and the Limits of UAW Internationalism.” WorkingUSA 17, no. 2 (2014): 239-60.

Courses Recently Taught

Women and Revolutions 

Women and Gender in Latin America

History and its Publics