Monthly Archives: June 2016

Vigilia por la Paz en Oaxaca

Last night in El Paso, Texas educators, students, and community organizers gathered at the Plaza de los Lagartos (San Jacinto Plaza) to show support and solidarity with the teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Many shared their thoughts about the injustice that continue happening in Mexico and the ones threatening our community on the border.

In a time of great tragedy and suffering across the world, we cannot forget the violence also occurring in Mexico. The people assembled at the gathering strongly supported the declacation, “En México la educación se paga con la vida! Alto a la represión en Oaxaca!”

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Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands

This week the El Paso Herald-Post online featured University of Texas at El Paso, Assistant Professor Amy Reed-Sandoval’s Philosophy for Children program. Reed-Sandoval began the Philosophy for Children program on both sides of the border in 2014; working with children in Oaxaca, Mexico, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso.

“One of the primary goals of this documentary is to explore the ways in which the social, linguistic, political and historical contexts of the Mexico-U.S. border–and particularly El Paso and Ciudad Juarez–impact the sorts of philosophical questions that local children and community partners seek to answer,” Reed-Sandoval said.

Categories: Events, Exhibits, Films, Teaching/Professional Development | Leave a comment

CFP: Not Just Green, Not Just White: Race, Justice, and Environmental History

Not Just Green, Not Just White: Race, Justice, and Environmental History

 Eds. Traci Brynne Voyles and Mary E. Mendoza

CALL FOR PAPERS: In 2003, Carolyn Merchant called on environmental historians to redouble their efforts to craft a critical environmental history of race, particularly one that takes into account the vast and urgent stakes of environmental injustice for communities of color. Not Just Green, Not Just White seeks to answer that call, highlighting scholarship that engages our environmental past with an eye toward building socially and environmentally just futures.

This collection brings together voices that analyze the relationships between environment, race, and justice through a historical lens, exploring how environmental injustices are produced in different historical contexts in ways that profoundly shaped, and still shape, the experiences of communities of color in the US. More broadly, these collaborators ask how power relations have been articulated through resources and resource exploitation; how the environment has been a literal and figurative terrain of struggle over rights, inclusion, or differentiation; or how nature has come to signify and symbolize race in ways that produce unequal or unjust power relations. Ultimately, the collection seeks to underscore the reality, long apparent to communities of color but too rarely articulated in scholarship on environmental history, that racial injustice and environmental degradation (and sometimes preservation) are co-constituted.

Race is a critical component to the study of environmental injustice, but environmental history, until very recently, has tended to leave out questions of race. Classic environmental histories have focused on wilderness, whiteness, and white ideals of pure nature, leaving unexamined the different ways in which people of color experience the nonhuman world and engage in environmentalism. This tendency in environmental history reflects dominant American narratives that focus on white individuals and how they have changed landscapes, ignoring how expansion, settler colonialism, economic and agricultural development, resource extraction, and urban planning have dramatically affected the relationship between people of color and their own natural and built environments. This, in short, is a totalizing, universalizing framework that flattens the diversity of human relationships to the non-human world. This collection brings together a number of historians thinking about a range of environmentalisms and environmental histories, with an eye toward building a more environmentally just future – as well as piecing together a more complete picture of our diverse environmental pasts.

The lack of exchange between environmental justice and environmental history goes both ways, and both fields of scholarship can compliment each other in productive ways. Contrary to environmental history, environmental justice scholarship has been focused on contemporary cases of environmental injustice and racism, only infrequently accounting for the rich histories that produce and give form to unequal relationships to resources and environmental protection. Still, many environmental justice studies of gendered and raced environmental epistemologies have added significantly to our understanding of how environmental knowledge and experience are more rich and more complex than simple reductions to “man’s” impact on “nature.” This collection seeks to apply that rich scholarship, with its deep thinking about race as an analytic as well as about the lived realities of people of color, to environmental history in ways that can bring us to a better understanding of the connections between humans and nature, as well as between and within our human communities. As part of this move toward deep thinking about race and diversity, we are attuned to the need for more intersectional applications of this scholarship, looking to the ways in which gender and race (and sexuality and class) together have formed our relationships to the non-human world not only in the present and future, but also in the past.

We will consider historical scholarship that seeks to explore what the human relationship with nature has looked like for various communities and indigenous nations across the US. We are particularly interested explorations of how (white, American notions of) environmentalism, or activities associated with it, have reinforced racial and classist stereotypes by alienating people who cannot afford or who cannot access things like recycling, or buying local organic foods, and excluded the diverse environmental epistemologies and practices of people of color from mainstream environmentalism. Additional avenues of inquiry might look at the ways that diverse communities and peoples have interacted with nature and what it means (or has historically meant) to be good stewards over nature. Ultimately, we hope to bring together a range of scholars working to disentangle whiteness from environment and environmentalism, and in doing so, offer a more diverse approach to our environmental past, present, and future. Continue reading

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Essay Series: New & Upcoming Topics in Borderlands History

Dear readers, we’re launching a new series to spotlight the work of early-career faculty and PhD students in Borderlands History. We’d like to introduce our first participant, Jonathan Cortez, who studies at Brown University. He’ll also be joining us as a regular contributor to the blog! -Mike

Hi Everyone!

My name is Jonathan Cortez and I am currently a doctoral student in American Studies at Brown University. I am also completing requirements towards a Master’s in Public Humanities from the John Nicolas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. I received my B.A. in Latina/o Studies and Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. My hometown of Robstown, Texas and its community continuously serve as sources of inspiration for me as I move through academia. Specifically the absence of local and ethnic histories from my K-12 public schooling resulted in retroactive self-seeking that has led me to write histories of Robstown, South Texas, and the larger U.S. Southwest areas.

My research trajectory began with recovery of personal histories. I learned about the Chicana/o Movement’s importance in Robstown after conducting oral histories with family members. Under the guidance of Dr. Emilio Zamora, I conducted research and wrote “Occupying La Lomita: Claiming Chicana/o Space and Identity in Robstown, Texas” as my Latina/o honors thesis. “Occupying La Lomita” was awarded the NACCS Frederick A. Cervantes Undergraduate Student Premio in 2015 in San Francisco, California.

My current research focuses on twentieth century transnational rural social movements along the U.S. Southwest. Specifically I have taken interested in the history of labor camps from the 1930s – late 1960s. My most recent academic papers examine multiracial labor streams of Mexican, Black, Native, Asian, and White laborers in Farm Security Administration (FSA) migratory labor camps. I use archival newspapers, photos, and oral histories to recount processes of racialization between different racialized groups in the same labor camps. I also write about the cultural representation and memorialization of labor camps and laborers in current discussions of race, class, gender, and immigration status.

I also consider myself a public historian and continuously work with my own community to foster pride in local history. I am working with the Robstown Area Historical Museum to develop an event, to which I am the project director, called “Community History Day” that allows community members to add their own histories and photos to the museum archival collection. Out of this work I hope to develop theories around local histories and rural/suburban museums in Latina/o communities.
To read more about my work please visit my personal website at: historiancortez.wordpress.com

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CFP: Policing the North American Borderlands

Dear readers, below we’re reposting a call for papers for what we believe will become an important new contribution to Borderlands historiography. 

CALL FOR PAPERS
POLICING THE NORTH AMERICAN BORDERLANDS

We solicit proposals for an edited volume entitled Policing the North American Borderlands. This volume will trace the development of state regulation and policing practices along the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders, as well as their impacts on border people during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Although war and diplomacy established borders on paper, policing made boundaries into borders and in some cases barriers.  We seek papers that examine how policies and state apparatuses create and regulate national borders and how this impacts communities which cross international divides.  We ask for papers that explore how particular legal codes and regulatory practices have attempted to define and delineate the parameters of the state; how citizenship is defined in both law and in practice; and how state regulatory apparatuses monitor and police flows of goods and people across international divides.  This book is centered on two key questions: how has the state (at the federal, state, provincial, and local levels) attempted to regulate and police people and goods at their actual borders; and how have local communities responded to, been shaped by, and/or undermined particular policing objectives and practices?

Too often, studies and discussions of the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders happen in isolation from one another.  Policing the North American Borderlands will therefore place analyses of policing practices along the northern and southern borders into direct conversation with one another.  We are especially interested in papers that take a comparative and connective approach.  How have states implemented policies and practices along the contested terrain that makes up each border region?  How do concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, and power shape interactions along these borders?  By examining the history of policing North America’s borderlands comparatively, we hope not only to trace the development of very different national borders but also shed light on contemporary border security concerns.  Continue reading

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