Dr. James Lang grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he received his B.A. degree from Canisius College in 1966. As a college student, he spent his summers as a steel worker at the Bethlehem rolling mill in Lackawanna, New York. He did his doctoral work in sociology and demography at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At Michigan, Dr. Lang was a founding member of the first Residential College. Before completing his graduate studies, he served as a Vista Volunteer at Southside Settlement House in Columbus, Ohio. He also spent a summer as a Project Director for Crossroads Africa in the Gambia, West Africa. As an advanced degree candidate, Lang held a Danforth-Kent Doctoral Fellowship.
From 1974 to 2008, Dr. Lang held a position in Sociology and Latin American Studies. His research and field work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Potato Center, and Vanderbilt's Faculty Research Council.
Dr. Land participated in Vanderbilt's Faculty-in-Residence Program and is a recipient of the Chancellor's Cup for service to Vanderbilt students. He is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish and is a past Director of Vanderbilt's residential language program at Vanderbilt's McTyeire International House.
Dr. Lang's published work has focused on comparative history and development. Conquest
and Commerce: Spain and England in the Americas (New York: Academic Press, 1975)
compares the colonial regimes that Spain and England established in the New
World. Portuguese Brazil: The King's Plantation (New York: Academic Press, 1979)
examines how the formation of an export-dominated economy shaped Brazil's development.
Inside Development in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 1988) looks at how community-focused, self-help projects are organized;
examples come from the Dominican Republic, Columbia, and Brazil. Feeding a Hungry
Planet (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996) is about how
grassroots technology transformed rice production in Asia and Latin America.
Notes of a Potato Watcher (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
2001) describes Andean agriculture, explains how potatoes became a staple crop
throughout the world, and analyzes potato production projects in Asia, Latin
America, and Africa.
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