Call for Papers: The State in/of Borderlands History

The State in/of Borderlands History
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas

November 6-7, 2015
Keynote Speaker: Kelly Lytle Hernandez (UCLA), author of Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol


The Department of History at the University of Texas at El Paso announces the conference, “The State in/of Borderlands History,” to be held November 6-7, 2015. Although the state has been a defining and an often ominous presence in the history of the Mexico-U.S. Borderlands, the systematic and explicit study of the state has been rare in Borderlands historiography. While historians of the U.S. have recently devoted increased attention to the state, already a well-established focus of Mexicanists, social and cultural history has largely shaped the field of Borderlands history. Current scholarship on transnationalism and the history of empire has also challenged the “natural” character of the nation-state.

Yet, beginning in the colonial period, and in fact before, a variety of state structures have shaped human existence in the region. Those living in and traveling through the borderlands have encountered and engaged with the state through forced labor in armies, mines and missions, the collection of taxes, and military action as well as immigration control, border policing, education and public health regimes. In these and other arenas, state structures–national, local, indigenous, and/or transnational–have made themselves present in borderlanders’ lives and, in turn, been challenged and shaped by them. Borderlands, geographical and conceptual, can serve as a critical location for a new approach to understanding state formation and state power.

We seek to bring together scholars from the U.S., Mexico, and beyond to engage the notion of the state, broadly conceived, and its many dimensions and scales in Borderlands history from the sixteenth century to the present. In the context of a conversation among specialists in the colonial, national and modern eras as well as among Mexicanists, Americanists, and others, papers would address understandings of the state, or its absence, through such topics as citizenship, public health, militarization, policing/ incarceration, immigration, mobility, education, land policy, environmental issues, border construction, sexuality, the family and the church. It is our hope that this conversation will, in turn, provide a means to gauge the state of the field.

We invite proposals for individual papers from scholars, including advanced graduate students, which should include a 250-word abstract and one-page CV. Papers may be submitted in Spanish or English. English-Spanish translation will be provided. Submissions should be emailed to The deadline is February 2, 2015.

The conference is organized by the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of History and the UTEP Borderlands History Ph.D. Program.

The conference is organized by the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of History and the UTEP Borderlands History Ph.D. Program.

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