Author Archives: Kris Klein Hernandez

Latinx Undergraduates and the Future of the History Profession

During the past few months, the AHA released several reports detailing a nationwide decline in History majors across campuses. In this month’s Perspectives on History, Yovanna Pineda problematizes that claim, and illuminates in her own two-year case study how one academic constituency – Latinxs – is increasing in history major enrollments. An associate professor of Latin American history at the University of Central Florida, Pineda sampled and interviewed first-generation Latinx students and their experiences within history departments as well as those applying to history graduate programs.

She finds that while many first generation Latinx college students share a passion for history, several top research and elite private institutions fail to successfully recruit such students. Pineda reports, for example, that some graduate programs even questioned a student’s English competency and requested that they take the TOEFL to ensure language ability. Her analysis confirms the need for an institutional apparatus that will continue to effectively recruit and retain first generation students of color in the history profession.

Read her article here.

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Notes on the 2016 UHA Annual Meeting at Chicago

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!  From the 13 to the 16 of October, 2016, urban historians, city planners, biographers, architects, and public policy specialists convened at the Philip Corboy Law Center of Loyola University Chicago for the Urban History Association’s Eighth Biennial Conference.  David-James (DJ) Gonzales and I had the opportunity to attend and present at this year’s meeting.

We arrived on Friday, October 14 and were able to visit some amazing panels that interrogated the themes of carcerality and the state, urban history before the “city,” settler colonialism, and the lack of scholarship on urban Latinx history.  It is exciting to see over the years how each urban history conference features more and more panels on Latinx neighborhoods, community activism, and radical political thought.  Some of the panels that were scheduled for the weekend included: “The Fight for Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, Post-1965,” “Latino Studies and the New Urban History,” “Urban Latinos: Ethnic Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Transnational Communities, and Cities in the Postwar United States,” “Latinos and the Changing World of Urban Work,” and “Rethinking the Boston ‘Bussing Crisis’”

Moreover, there were some great sessions on the connections between ethnicity, immigration, and urban space, as with a plenary on “A City of Immigrants: Immigration Reform since 1965 and its Urban Consequences.”  The panel sought to present post-1965 as a defining point not just for civil rights, but for new groups of Latinx immigrants to the country.  There was also a roundtable titled, “Settler Colonialism in American History?”  This panel was absolutely terrific, especially because of the open conversations the panelists had with the audience.  An individual from the audience posed the question, “Can only native scholars utilize settler colonialism in their research and can settler colonialism only be used to understand native pasts?”  Nathan Connolly, a Black historian of property rights and land in Florida, responded that the moment we start to put restrictions on who can write certain pasts or operate specific optics is the moment white supremacy succeeds.  Llana Barber, a specialist in immigration and Latinx history, concurred and suggested that settler colonialism helps attenuate the differences between different historically-marginalized ethnic groups.  She compared Puerto Rican and Native American pasts, referring to land sovereignty and citizenship rights through the guise of a friendly state.  The roundtable concluded that settler colonialism can and is helpful in thinking through ethnic histories like the Latinx past. Continue reading

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Notes on the 2016 OAH Annual Meeting at Providence

This past week, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) held its annual conference at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island from April 7-10, 2016. Its theme, “On Leadership,” was seen throughout the conference’s sessions – which ranged from panels on “Worst. President. Ever.,” to “Black Religious Leadership and Mass Media in the 20th Century,” and “Remembering Julian Bond.” Without a doubt, leadership in its many forms was present and embedded within the majority of the sessions over the four days of the conference.


City Center, Providence

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BHIP #5: We Speak to Alexandra Minna Stern

This is the fifth installment of the Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP), a series that showcases the voices of respected historians in the field to discuss their current projects and views on the present and future of borderlands history.

As November draws to its end and the foliage has reached its zenith here in Ann Arbor, we at Borderlands History Blog are happy to present our next installment in the Borderlands History Interview Project with Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern. Several of the Borderlands History Blog writers already share a repertoire with Professor Stern, including our very own Lina-Maria Murillo. Stern has served as both a great mentor, advocate, and friend, and I am pleased to have caught up with her earlier this month. We conversed in the Department of American Culture for a while, both speaking about research interests, and well, borderlands.

Alexandra Minna Stern is a historian of science and medicine and Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Culture, and History at the University of Michigan. She is also the current director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and serves in various capacities in two Public Health units as well. Stern received her PhD in History from the University of Chicago in 1999. She is the author of the Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America, which was published by the University of California Press in 2005, and of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America, which was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2012, an exploration into genetic counseling. Currently, she is underway on two projects, including a history on sterilization in California, and the history of the “gay gene.”


Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern

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Borderlands History Interview Project Presents Dr. Anthony P. Mora

This is the third installment of the Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP), a series that showcases the voices of respected historians in the field to discuss their current projects and views on the future of borderlands history.

While in the Ethnic Studies suite of the Department of American Culture, I had the opportunity to chat with Anthony Mora, Associate Professor of History, Latina/o Studies, and American Culture at the University of Michigan. We conversed about his current work as well as his thoughts on the state of/on borderlands history. Since this interview took place on a Friday, Dr. Mora and I had the whole Ethnic Studies suite to ourselves, providing us a space to engage in a great discussion about borders, borderlands, and bordered lands as well as the interconnections between borderlands and Chicano/a history.

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“Educating the Native in His Land:” Exploring Nineteenth and Twentieth–Century Imperialism within the Global American Borderlands, 1850s to 1950s

This analysis will explore colonial interactions within two U.S. foreign involvements through the lens of Borderlands History: the Philippines and Hawaii. Using the lens of interaction as a category of analysis, I will talk about how sexual and racial anxieties experienced by populations outside of North America have been in ongoing tension and unremitting negotiation with the American nation. By intentionally placing the Philippines and Hawaii into the realm of borderlands, scholars can further explore the transnational nature of borders, imperialisms, and societies.

The Philippines

As Julian Go contends, U.S. imperialism in the Philippines was singular for many reasons: the 1898 Treaty of Paris ceded the archipelago to the Americans rather than to Filipinos, and the terms of appropriation involved the “legally codified establishment of direct political domination over a foreign territory and peoples.”[1] Island occupation spoke to the larger phenomenon surrounding the emergence of modern empires, such as the U.S., Japan and the U.K., as well as their shared goal in the acquisition of land. Their distant location and increasing western interests made the islands not only “exceptional,” but also illustrative of efforts to colonize societies located far beyond the continent. Continue reading

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Review: Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space

Rifkin, Mark. Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 290 pp. Paperback. $26.96.


Mark Rifkin’s Manifesting America is a pathbreaking and discipline-shattering examination of 1810 to 1850s imperial and subaltern rhetoric between U.S. national authorities and marginalized populations such as Amerindians, early Californios, and ethnic Mexicans. Rifkin extrapolates American legal documents such as the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo to illustrate how the imperial structure of U.S. jurisdiction over the last two centuries created a “simulation of consent” between marginalized peoples and the state (5). He argues that the ways “internalized populations” appropriated and contested North American geographies in a range of “non-fictional writings” demonstrates how U.S. imperial hegemony became embedded in the very language and society of these peoples (6–7).

Manifesting America is divided into four complementary chapters, each examining the manner in which the government articulated sovereignty and authority over contested lands. The first part deconstructs the rhetoric of the 1830 Indian Removal Act and how the U.S. framed “a certain geopolitical grammar” to justify America’s forced migration of Amerindians, especially Cherokees (49, 57). The second chapter examines the rhetoric of popular American figures like Thomas Jefferson and explains how war and expansion exacerbated the legal “inbetweeness” of Anglos and Amerindians (78). The next section investigates Texan property holdings and draws connections between the political identity and economic privilege of ethnic Mexicans, Comanches and Tejanos. The last chapter inspects Californio land claims with the “reservation-paradigm” that allowed the vehicle of violence to legally place indigenous land in the ownership of Anglos and Californios. Each segment of the book provides the reader with several examples of how American imperial rhetoric placated and abused marginalized peoples, and irrevocably appropriated land into national space. Continue reading

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Laboring Female Identities: Examinations of Mexican and Puerto Rican Familial Relations, 1840 – 1940

When speaking about the impact of U.S. labor on early twentieth-century Latinos, one must consider how labor affected Latinos differently depending on the location, time and purpose of creating a labor capital. I would like to speak about various unique locales where U.S. labor transformed, or perhaps, imposed, notions of modernity onto Latinos – Mexicans in the Southwest and Puerto Ricans on the island. These locations are special in their proximity to  two separate countries (PR and U.S./Mexico and Arizona) as well as how U.S. imperial influence transformed the family. Continue reading

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Deconstructing the Epistemic and Cultural Whitewashing in William Deverell’s Whitewashed Adobe

William Deverell’s 2005 Whitewashed Adobe illuminates the chronicle of Anglo American perceptions to Mexicans from the 1850s to the 1930s, a period where the development of Los Angeles saw an increase in racial discrimination. Deverell argues that due to the barrioization of Mexican neighborhoods forced upon from gentrification processes, as well as a sudden outbreak of Black Death (Bubonic plague) in these areas, Anglo Americans formed a distasteful disposition toward their Mexican Angeleno counterparts. Continue reading

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Telenovelas: The 21st Century Pedagogical Tool for Primarily Spanish Speakers in the US?

Growing up in El Paso over the years has provided this writer the opportunity to observe the significance and impact telenovelas (Spanish-speaking soap operas) have on an audience. I remember my grandmother, glued to the TV from six to nine at night, watching her telenovelas. These soap operas played every day Monday through Friday. She became engrossed in the trivial and melodramatic storylines. When I would misbehave, she would scold me saying, “Look at this man [on the TV] – if you misbehave now, you will grow up and be like him – cheating in life.” At the time, I had no idea was she was talking about. Today, I realize that my grandmother and her friends, and their friends’ friends all based reality and attitudes of people off of the characters and situations in these soap operas. Did my grandmother actually believe that the characters in these soaps were actually real? I decided to research various soap operas/telenovelas, finding out if they had the same impact on other people like they had on my grandmother. Continue reading

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