With a Diamond in My Shoe

A Philosopher's Search for Identity in America

By Jorge J. E. Gracia

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Multiethnic Literature, History Of Philosophy, Autobiography, Biography And Memoir, Intellectual History
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438477275, 282 pages, October 2019
Paperback : 9781438477282, 282 pages, October 2019

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue (2018)

1. Farewell to Cuba (1961)

2. Good Morning, America (1961–1962)

3. Hungry in Miami (1961)

4. A Gate to the Real America (1962)

5. Foreigner in a Foreign Land (1962–1965)

6. Surviving Evangelical Fundamentalism (1962–1965)

7. Knowing Myself (1962–1965)

8. Make Love, Not War (1965–1966)

9. Becoming a Medievalist (1966–1969)

10. Pilgrimage to Europe (1969–1971)

11. Landing a Job, with Verve (1971)

12. Buffalo Department of Philosophy (1971–1973)

13. The Vocation and Profession of Philosophy (1975)

14. Two Alternative Research Programs (1971–1974)

15. Medieval Philosophy (1975–1985)

16. Latin American Philosophy in the United States (1939–1985)

17. From Rookie to Chair (1980–1986)

18. Beyond Medieval and Latin American Philosophy (1990–2000)

19. The Call of Ethnic, Racial, and National Identities (2000–present)

20. A Place for Literature and the Arts (2005–present)

21. From Hispanic to Latino and Latinx Philosophy (2000–present)

22. Return to Philosophy through Its History (1990–2000)

23. A Paradigm of Courage (1971–1976)

Epilogue: With a Diamond in My Mind


The intellectual autobiography of a leading figure in the field of Latin American philosophy.


In 1961, at the age of nineteen, Jorge J. E. Gracia escaped from the island of Cuba by passing himself off as a Catholic seminarian. He arrived in the United States with just a few spare belongings and his mother's diamond ring secured in a hole in one of his shoes. With a Diamond in My Shoe tells the story of Gracia's quest for identity—from his early years in Cuba and as a refugee in Miami to his formative role in institutionalizing the field of Latin American philosophy in the US academy. Committed to integrating into Anglo America without forgetting his roots, Gracia reflects on his struggles and successes as an immigrant and academic, bringing a philosopher's eye to bear on his personal and professional development as a leading Latinx scholar.

Jorge J. E. Gracia is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. His many books include Painting Borges: Philosophy Interpreting Art Interpreting Literature; Images of Thought: Philosophical Interpretations of Carlos Estévez's Art; and Identity, Memory, and Diaspora: Voices of Cuban-American Artists, Writers, and Philosophers, all published by SUNY Press.


"Gracia is a writer in full control of his material, and yet someone who in his own search for identity as a philosopher, as a Cuban, as a Cuban American, as a Hispanic, as a Latino, as a Latinx, leaves many questions open, as any good philosopher should, allowing his readers to answer for themselves. The strength of his authorial voice resides in his honesty. " — Rolando Pérez, author of Severo Sarduy and the Neo-Baroque Image of Thought in the Visual Arts