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Get to Know the Faculty: Justin Castro


These days, Justin Castro is rockin'' his research and lectures for the A-State history department.

Justin Castro

Justin Castro

Place of birth?
Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Wife, Angela; daughter, Olivia; two angel fish, Gem and Zebra.
Who was your favorite teacher (and why)?
Professor Terry Rugeley, my PhD advisor. He cared about my success; he personally introduced me to historical archives in Mexico, and he was always timely and astute in his critiques of my work. He is also an amazing writer and scholar.
What makes for a good student?
Curiosity, compassion, ambition, and grit.
In college, I was known for...
wearing hats and playing in a rock n’ roll band.
What is the one thing you wish you could teach everyone about your field?
History is more than memorizing events, people, and dates. It is a research-orientated discipline that uses empirical evidence to produce arguments and stories about our place within the context of space and time.
Why did you choose A-State?
Arkansas State provided me a balance of community and autonomy—both of which are essential to creative teaching and productive scholarship. The history department is great!
What makes a good professor?
Empathy, passion, a knack for performance, and commitment to their profession, scholarship, and students.
What’s the value of a university education?
It’s not the same for all people. It’s what you make of it. But if you are determined and open-minded, a university education can be the gateway to a more nuanced, beautiful exploration of our universe. It was for me. It still is.
Your philosophy on education in seven words:
Push your boundaries and love your work.
If you could teach another field, which one and why?
Cosmology. It explores the history of the entire universe!
What are you working on right now?
I am writing a biography of Modesto C. Rolland, a not so likable but amazing engineer who influenced the course of the Mexican Revolution.
Before I retire I want to...
watch many students accomplish amazing things. I also want to write a few more books.
What music is playing in your car?
Sky City’s Quantico Traveler and the new Jayhawks’ album, Paging Mr. Proust.
What is your favorite podcast?
Overanalyze. It’s a great podcast that a couple of my friends and fellow historians put together that discusses the intersection of history, gaming, TV, and digital humanities. It’s actually really funny.
My favorite motion picture is...
Man, how do you chose? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The last book I read for fun was..
John Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus.
My favorite trip was...
My last research trip across the Baja California Peninsula was epic.
If I could travel anywhere it would be...
inside a black hole or back and forth in time.
Four people I’d take to coffee at The Edge...
Tom Waits, Aspasia, David Lynch, Frida Kahlo
The best advice I ever received was...
Stay amazed.
What is the one thing I’ve learned I’d tell my college self . . .
If you want to write well, you must put sincere love into each and every word.
My hobby is...
my house.
My passion is...
writing history and singing songs.
My pro sports team is...
the San Francisco 49ers.
My pet peeve is...
students not stapling their papers.
My favorite meal is...
Mexico City, street vendor-style tacos al pastor.
A perfect day is...
a hug from a friend and a good song shared.
My spirit cartoon character is...
Finn the Human
What I like about Jonesboro is...
its humid, mosquito-filled, cosmic southern Americana jive. It’s hardy.
When I want to crush karaoke, my song is...
Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing in the Dark.”
Cats or dogs?
E-book or hardback?
Beach or mountains?
Dinner or supper?
I wish I could...
walk on another planet.
Only my friends know I...
go by my middle name.
My favorite saying is...
brick by brick.