Author Archives: Lina-Maria Murillo
The Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP) will showcase the voices of respected historians in our field to discuss their current projects and views on the future of borderlands history. We’re excited about this new venture and look forward to your comments!
While at the 2015 American Historical Association conference in New York City earlier this month, I was able to sit down with Dr. Ernesto Chávez, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, to discuss his latest project and his take on borderlands history. He graciously accepted to be the first interviewee in our BHIP series, highlighting scholars who are changing and challenging our field. We nestled into the Hilton hotel conference room chairs, and trying not to disturb the other historians gathered charging their phones and frantically answering emails, we began our interview about his life, his new project, and the history and future of borderlands.
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.
It felt like everyone I know was on their way to the Western Historical Association (WHA) in Newport Beach this year. After making sure some of my colleagues were confirmed on the program, I took a peak at its content. The program read like a “who’s who” of the most exciting junior and senior scholars in the field of borderlands history. I booked a room at the Marriot and made a beeline for SoCal. Before I continue, I should mention I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP). Our Borderlands Ph.D. program made a big showing at the conference (someone made an off the cuff remark stating we were the new SMU), and I made every attempt to visit those panels. However, I did manage to check out a few panels not featuring UTEP students. Here is a brief analysis of my experience at the WHA Conference 2014.
Whizzing down highway 5 on Wednesday (I live in the Bay Area these days) and coming face to face with L.A. traffic, I knew I would not make it to see the first panel organized by the Coalition for Western Women’s History Roundtable entitled “Women Crossing Borders.” Luckily at the opening reception that evening, I bumped into one of the presenters on the panel John McKiernan-González. We spoke briefly about the panel and Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Health and Race in North America, a new book he edited with Laurie Green and Martin Summers. Other scholars in attendance that evening were Eric Meeks, Sam Truett, as well as incoming President of the WHA Elizabeth (Betsy) Jameson. Seeing so many borderlands historians in one place was not only exciting, but helped to set the tone for the rest of conference. Continue reading