Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Spanish Harlem, New York City, Chinea earned undergraduate (1980) and graduate degrees (1983) from Binghamton University, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota (1994), where he specialized in Latin American history. He has presented papers on the 18th and 19th-century Latin American and Caribbean themes focusing on immigration, labor, plantations, racial politics, and the Irish and African Diasporas. His book Race and Labor in the Hispanic Caribbean: The West Indian Worker Experience in Puerto Rico, 1800-1850 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005) earned him a 2005 Board of Governors faculty recognition award. A revised, augmented, Spanish-language translation of the book was recently published in Spain and publicly discussed at the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Book that was organized by the Mexican Association of Caribbean Studies. Currently, Chinea serves as associate professor of history and director of the Center for Latino/a & Latin American Studies at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.