Job Alert: US, Latin American, Latinx History, Connecticut College

Dear readers, Connecticut College’s Department of History has a call ongoing for applicants for a visiting assistant professor’s position to teach courses on US, Latin American, and Latinx history. The appointment is for the 2018/2019 academic year. PhD preferred, but ABD considered. A total of four courses will be taught by the successful candidate covering the three mentioned fields. Although there is no deadline to apply, review of applications begins immediately and continues until the posting is filled.

For more information, or to apply, follow this link. Questions can also be directed to department chair , Dr. Leo Garofalo.

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Alienating Laws: How Mexican Migration Became Illegal, Pt. II

By Diego Mulato-Castillo

This is the second part of Diego’s essay, to read the first installment, click here.

As undocumented Mexican migration increased, the debate raged within the United States government about how to put a stop to what was perceived as a flood of illegal immigration, a solution was proposed by the introduction of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which militarized the U.S.-Mexico border and further criminalized Mexican migration. The IRCA immigration reform of 1986 clearly highlighted the contradictory stance the U.S. government possessed towards Mexican immigration. IRCA provided amnesty to an estimated 2.7 million undocumented immigrants, and sought to put an abrupt end to further illegal migration by imposing worker sanctions and beginning the remarkable militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border that continues to present day[1]. Ngai further explains that Congress authorized the doubling of the Border Patrol and set the groundwork for the vast network of walls, drones, surveillance equipment, and personnel which now costs taxpayers 2 billion dollars a year[2].

IRCA did little to dramatically reduce undocumented migration in the United States. The long-lasting impact of IRCA, nevertheless, includes the framing of Mexican migration as a criminal act. Mexican immigration as a problem became cemented in the U.S. psyche. The fatal flaw of the U.S. government and the implementation of IRCA was that it did not address the structural problems that drive migration—unequal distribution of wealth, globalism, poverty—and instead addressed immigration on an individual, and short-sided basis[3] .

The failure of IRCA to curb Mexican migration by criminalizing individuals can best be grasped by the 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants residing in the United States as of 2016[4]. What IRCA achieved was the remarkable targeting of the unauthorized population, along with the channeling of migrants through increasingly more dangerous routes of entry. The traditional corridors into California through Baja California became heavily patrolled and closed off, opening a new corridor through the dessert that is shared by Sonora and Arizona, a grueling and dangerous trek that has claimed the lives of hundreds. IRCA, which belongs to a long line of exclusionary laws, all provided the backdrop for the debate over Mexican migration that permeated the weaning years of the twentieth century, and spilled over into the twenty-first century.

Mexican migration continued to be perceived as a problem, and vehemently targeted by anti-immigration policies, and with the passing of the Patriot Act, as a response to September 11, 2001, an all-out war was declared on immigrants by the United States government. Originally intended to target terrorists, the Patriot Act revoked what little humanity was awarded to immigrants in the United States. It authorized the immediate deportation or incarceration of undocumented immigrants. Labeled “illegal aliens,” these individuals became the target of Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), which moved their operations deep into the United States—no longer staying close to the U.S-Mexico border[5].

Massey reveals the scale of the growth of both ICE and the Border Patrol. Beginning during the implementation of IRCA in 1986 and to 2008, the number of border patrol agents increased from 3,700 to 18,000. The budget of the Border Patrol increased from 151 million dollars in 1986 to a staggering 7.9 billion, a fifty fold increase[6]. Comparatively, ICE since its inception in 2003, has grown to an agency of 17,000 workers with an annual budget of 59 billion[7]. ICE and the Border Patrol possess only one purpose: apprehending undocumented migrants and either deporting them as quickly as possible or incarcerating them in the various immigrant detention centers throughout the country. In the twenty-first century, the systemic deportation of millions of individuals, especially prevalent during the Obama administration, coupled with immigrant hysteria has increasingly framed Mexicans, both documented and undocumented, as a threat to the security and social make up of the United States. One has to only experience the current rhetoric emanating from Washington to perceive how Mexican migration is framed as a criminal act.

Today, the framing of Mexican migration, and migration from Latin America as a whole, has been strategically deemed illegal and constructed to fit a politicized agenda. Currently in the United States, the theory of a migrant invasion is utilized to sow xenophobia and racism throughout the public as a whole, and to instill fear on undocumented individuals. Migrants from Mexico are framed as foreign bodies not worthy of etching out a living in the United Sates. Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General, in a recent press release stated that illegal aliens are criminals that should be deported, and that they will face the extent of the law. Indeed, immigration laws continue to create a vast number of illegal subjects, who in many ways, remained trapped within the demarcated boundaries of the nation state—for their home countries have ceased to be their homes.

Moreover, immigration law have begun to target refugees and even children in a new cruel phase intended to criminalize all immigration from Mexico and Central America. Sessions, in a May press release given in San Diego, stated that immigrants accompanied by children will be prosecuted and separated from each other, and will no longer be house in detention centers together[8]. Immigration laws have resorted to draconian methods of punishment for undocumented migration from Mexico and Central America. As soon as Mexican migrants cross the demarcated border between Mexico and the U.S. they cease to be humans, and under U.S. immigration law become illegal aliens that are at the mercy of the state—or lack thereof.

In closing, the history of Mexican migration is one that it tightly intertwined with laws, stemming from the creation of the first Mexican Americans in the aftermath the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to the twenty first century were present day rhetoric and cruel laws are aimed at criminalizing and prosecuting immigrants from Mexico and Central America. As the period of the American War on Mexico reveals, the U.S-Mexico border has undergone several fluctuations before becoming the militarized border of today. The border, after the annexation of half of Mexico, crossed the 100,000 former Mexican citizens and created the first Mexican Americans and began the process of Mexican migration in the North. With the implementation of IRA and the Patriot Act, the U.S and Mexican border has become the stringent arbiter of legality, on one side an individual possesses a form of personhood, but when they cross over this personhood is tripped and they become a criminal—a criminal alien, no longer deserving of any human rights. Alas, the urgent question remains—what now?

Migration for many Mexicanos, and increasingly Central Americans, is no longer a choice but a means for survival. So called illegal aliens are in fact refugees, created in large part by both economic and armed interventions in Latin America by the United States. The opaque shroud of illegality must be lifted, and the true identity of these refugees revealed. The illegality of Mexican migration as it has been historically crafted in the last century to today, is one clouded by racism and xenophobia. Migration is not a criminal act, but a means of survival.

[1] Ngai, 266.

[2] Ngai, 266.

[3] García Bedolla, 238.

[4] García Bedolla, 239.

[5] Massey, 254.

[6] Massey, 257.

[7] Massey, 257.

[8] Jeff Sessions, “If you are Smuggling a Child, We will Prosecute You” (2018, San Diego: NBC News, 2018) Broadcast.

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Alienating Laws: How Mexican Migration Became Illegal, Pt. 1

By Diego Mulato-Castillo

Note: I was fortunate to teach “The History of Mexican Migration” Spring 2018 at San Francisco State University. I say “fortunate” because never during my lifetime has the need for an accurate, historical, evidence-driven understanding of the movement of Mexican peoples across the U.S.-Mexico border been more important. With the Trump administration’s attacks on the migrant community in the United States, students were eager to find out the history behind the violent rhetoric and policies that characterized Trump’s rise to power. Needless to say, students were all overwhelmed with the long, ugly
xenophobic history of the United States. At the beginning of class I informed my students that I co-managed a blog focused on the history and politics of the Southwestern borderlands. As the course progressed students suggested that whoever wrote the best final paper should have their work published on the blog. What an excellent idea!

There were many excellent papers written about diverse topics relating to racism, labor,
environmentalism, eugenics, and more. But, in the end, only one would get the honor. I am pleased to announce that Diego Mulato Castillo’s essay titled “Alienating Laws: How Mexican Migration Became Illegal,” is the winner of our mini-contest. A timely piece, Mulato Castillo examines the legal history and the various social turns that drove the U.S. to make the migration of Mexican people and by extension Latin Americans “illegal.”

Diego Mulato Castillo is an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University and is majoring in literature with an interest in the Central American diaspora, specifically from the so-called northern triangle. He finds the history of Mexican migration interesting for it sheds a distinct light on the migration of Central Americans to el norte, and migration from all of Latin America as a whole. 

This essay will be presented in two parts. Enjoy! -Lina Murillo

Mexican immigration into the United States is perceive as an illegal act in the twenty-first century warranting expulsion, however, historically this has not always been the case. The ebb and flow of Mexican migration has been influenced and framed differently throughout the complicated and intertwined history of the United States and its neighbor to the south, Mexico. The U.S. and Mexico not only share one of the most militarized borders in the world, but also a shared history fraught with tension and vast inequality. It is this historic tension and inequality that has served as a catalyst for the vast migration of Mexicans to the United States, which has possessed a historical ambivalence towards these immigrants, at times welcoming them as cheap labor hands to then call for their return to their native land. This paper will focus on the history of Mexican migration and the law beginning with the first Mexican Americans after the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and the events leading up to the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border in the late twentieth century in order to understand how Mexican immigration became illegal in twenty-first century.

The first Mexican immigrants were not quite immigrants, but rather became conquered subjects of the United States after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which forced the Mexican state to cede nearly half of its northern territory to the United States. In the aftermath of the U.S. War with Mexico, an estimated 100,000 Mexican citizens lived in the ceded territories. One of the main caveats pursued by Mexico in the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was for the Mexican citizens left in the ceded territories to be awarded all the benefits of U.S citizenship—the United States agreed. In 1848, the United States perceived itself as a “white” nation of a predominantly northwestern European background, and citizenship was awarded only to individuals who fit this racial makeup. As a result, the sighing of the treaty had the impact of assigning the former Mexican citizens in the annexed territories the racial category of “white”[1]. Despite the treaty, former Mexicanos of indigenous decent were not awarded the status of citizenship. Moreover, Mexican-Americans were treated as second class citizens, despite possessing the same claim to citizenship as their counterparts of European ancestry. Laura E. Gómez argues that U.S. colonialism is responsible for the creation of the first Mexican-Americans. Indeed manifest destiny was the impetus behind the acquisition of Norther Mexico, as the United States hoped to obtain a vast amount of natural resources and create a large swatch of land prime for settlement[2]. It was through this destabilization of the Mexican state that the pull of individuals from Mexico came into being. Continue reading

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Job Alert: Latinx Studies, American University

Dear readers, the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in Washington, DC has launched a search for candidates to fill position in Latinx studies at the rank of associate or full professor. The successful candidate will be attached to the Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies Collaborative, as well as a department that corresponds to her/his field. From the announcement:

Candidates should have a demonstrated record of excellence in scholarly research as well as teaching. They should also demonstrate a vision for building an interdisciplinary Latinx studies program, and have relevant leadership experience. In addition to scholarship, teaching, and program building, responsibilities will include service to department, college, and the university.

The position begins August 1st, 2019.

To apply, submit your materials via Interfolio. For more information about the Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies Collaborative, follow this link.

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Upcoming Event: Panel to Discuss Issues Impacting El Paso and Juárez

From the press release for tonight’s event in El Paso:

Panel to Discuss Issues Impacting El Paso and Juárez

What: El Paso Times Live

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7

Where:  Union Cinema, Union Building East, first floor

Three El Pasoans with a unique perspective on the border region will provide their insights during El Paso Times Live, 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7 at the Union Cinema, Union Building East, first floor.

Alfredo Corchado, the Mexico border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News; Kerry Doyle, director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts; and Benjamin Alire Saenz, a celebrated author and former professor of creative writing at UTEP, will speak on several issues impacting El Paso and Juárez.

Free parking will be available in the Sun Bowl Garage.

El Paso Times Live is an ongoing series in partnership with The University of Texas at El Paso that examines the relationship between El Paso and Juárez including education, politics, government and growth.

The discussion will be moderated by El Paso Times Editor Zahira Torres.

The free event is open to the public.

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Teaching Multicultural America From the Borderlands Perspective

Ricardo Romero, co-founder of Crusade for Justice, Escuela Tlatelolco, Mexican National Liberation Movement and Al Frente de Lucha, lecturing to students in a Multicultural America history course at Metropolitan State University of Denver

Chicana borderlands theorist Gloria Anzaldúa described the U.S.-Mexico borderlands as “una herida abierta,” an “open wound” created when two nations rub against each other and the less powerful one bleeds.[1] In Anzaldúa’s seminal work, Borderlands/La Frontera, she spoke not only of a specific geographic place – the U.S.-Mexico border – but she conceived of the borderlands broadly, as a space that is “physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy.”[2] Anzaldúa’s borderlands theory has inspired, and continues to inspire, many borderlands historians who are trained to see history from the edges rather than the center, to illuminate the perspectives of those who live on the periphery of nations and tell their stories.

Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands theory deeply informs my own research, focused on two curanderos (Mexican faith healers) active in the borderlands over the turn of the twentieth century. Writing history from this perspective, I focus on the intersections of Don Pedro Jaramillo and Santa Teresa Urrea, as they sit geographically at the edges of nations in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. These healers found themselves on the edges of dominant institutions — the church, professional medicine, and Anglo culture –– while they provided culturally resonant healing and sustenance to ethnic Mexicans, indigenous peoples, Tejanos and others in the borderlands who faced increasingly oppressive forms of state power deployed by both nations.[3] Through their curanderismo practices, they also helped shape national ideologies as well as spiritual and medical practices by helping to create and maintain transnational ethnic Mexican communities and identities in the U.S-Mexico borderlands. In this way, my research attempts to show how the oft-marginalized stories that exist in the “open wound” of the borderlands are important to tell not only in order to offer a more complete, rich, and complex version of our national history, but also because they are integral to the on-going construction of Multicultural America. Continue reading

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Course Alert: Reproductive Justice and Immigration Politics

Dear readers, we’re launching our newest series today: course alerts, where we post information about upcoming classes being offered by early-career professors and graduate students in the coming semester to raise awareness in our scholarly community and reach out to students.

The first course alert is from Dr. Heather Sinclair, who is offering Babies and Border Walls: Linking Reproductive Justice to Immigration Politics in the Past and Present for enrollment at the University of Texas at El Paso this summer.

Junior-Senior HIST/WS/ANTHO/SOC Seminar

Babies and Border Walls:

Linking Reproductive Justice to Immigration Politics in the Past and Present


Artwork of French artist JR’s on the US-Mexico border wall.

The Republican Party’s recent proposal to fund the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border by taking federal monies from Planned Parenthood makes us ponder the connections between population and its control.   From the Page Act of 1875 to mass deportations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans during the Great Depression to more current debates surrounding birthright citizenship and DACA, we can see that discussions of immigration have long centered on struggles over population, reproduction, race, and fitness for citizenship. Using a Reproductive Justice framework, we will explore in this course links between reproductive rights and immigration that stand at the forefront of US culture and politics today, particularly here in Texas and the border region. We will think critically and historically about struggles over reproduction, population and immigration policy, employing race, gender, class, citizenship and sexuality as central categories of analysis. There will be readings, films, and guest lectures on topics that include the sterilization of immigrant mothers, abortion, midwifery and childbirth on the border, eugenics and immigration policy, racial disparities in infant and maternal mortality, LGBTQ issues, transnational adoption and surrogacy, and more.

To submit your own class for a course alert write the blog coordinators.

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CFP: Global Environmental Borderlands in the Age of Empire

The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University and Stanford University are sponsoring a joint symposium in 2019-2020 to examine environmental and borderlands history from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries CE. The first meeting will occur at SMU’s Taos, New Mexico campus in late 2019 with a second gathering hosted by Stanford in the spring. A university press will be attached to the symposium to publish the papers presented. The events are being organized by SMU’s Johan Elverskog and Stanford’s Ali Yaycioglu. More from the call for papers:

We welcome papers focusing on mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, swamps, steppes, deserts, seas and oceans, under-seas, subterranean and aerial spaces as environmental borderlands and frontiers of different large-scale (imperial) human organizations. In these undertakings, however, we are particularly interested in contributions with holistic conceptualizations of eco-orders of humans and non-humans, which can challenge established anthropocentric approaches. We do not have any geographical priority. Our concerns are truly global. To this end we plan on bringing together scholars working on the environmental history of borderland regions around the world. We also welcome digital history projects.

The deadline to submit a proposal is 1 October 2018. A 1-page CV and 500-800 proposal abstract should be sent to the organizers. For more information, download the full text of the call by clicking this link (PDF).


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Job Alert: Native American & Indigenous Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Dear readers, the Department of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz has launched a search to fill a visiting assistant professor position for the 2018/19 academic year with the possibility of extending the appointment for a second year.

The specialization is open, but the department is particularly interested in scholars who work on “the histories, cultures, artistic and cultural production, sovereignty, political and social realities, and feminist approaches to knowledge systems and epistemologies of Indigenous people.

More from the job posting:

The Visiting Assistant Professor will pursue a program of independent scholarship under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and is expected to provide intellectual expertise to the campus in his or her area of focus, as well as to engage with faculty colleagues and students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The candidate is also expected to participate in the broader Native American and Indigenous Studies community at UCSC while in residence. We especially welcome applicants with a demonstrated commitment to working collaboratively with Indigenous communities. This position carries a three to four-course workload over three quarters.

For those interested, all materials must be submitted online via UC dossier service; a PhD or equivalent should be completed at the time of application. Teaching experience is not required, but if available, a maximum of three evaluations will be accepted.

The call will remain open until it’s filled, but the deadline to receive full consideration is May 21.

The position begins in the fall. For more information, or to apply, follow the link. The reference number is JPF00525-18T, which should be used in Al correspondence.

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Job Alert: Latin@ History, Connecticut College

Dear readers, we wanted to let you know that the Department of History at Connecticut College, in New Haven, CT, has launched a search to fill an adjunct position for Assistant Professor of Latinx History. The job announcement was short on specifics, but did mention that the review of applications begins immediately (April 26) and will continue until the position is filled.

For more information on how to apply, you can write the department chair, Dr. Lisa Wilson, via this link.

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