There are few places where mobility has shaped identity as widely as the American West, but some locations and populations sit at its major crossroads, maintaining control over place and mobility, labor and race. In Collisions at the Crossroads, Genevieve Carpioargues that mobility, both permission to move freely and prohibitions on movement, helped shape racial formation in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By examining policies and forces as different as historical societies, Indian boarding schools, bicycle ordinances, immigration policy, incarceration, traffic checkpoints, and Route 66 heritage, she shows how local authorities constructed a racial hierarchy by allowing some people to move freely while placing limits on the mobility of others. Highlighting the ways people of color have negotiated their place within these systems, Carpio reveals a compelling and perceptive analysis of spatial mobility through physical movement and residence.
There is an audio discussion for this book, which you can listen to here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/genevieve-carpio-collisions-at-the-crossroads-how-place-and-mobility-make-race-u-california-press-2019/
“The convertors would spew it out,” employee Arturo Hernandez recalled, referring to molten metal. “You’d see the ground, the dirt, catch on fire. . . . If you slip, you’d be like a little pat of butter, melting away.”
Hernandez was describing work at ASARCO El Paso, a smelter and onetime economic powerhouse situated in the city’s heart just a few yards north of the Mexican border. For more than a century the smelter produced vast quantities of copper—along with millions of tons of toxins. During six of those years, the smelter also burned highly toxic industrial waste under the guise of processing copper, with dire consequences for worker and community health.
Copper Stain is a history of environmental injustice, corporate malfeasance, political treachery, and a community fighting for its life. The book gives voice to nearly one hundred Mexican Americans directly affected by these events. Their frank and often heartrending stories, published here for the first time, evoke the grim reality of laboring under giant machines and lava-spewing furnaces while turning mountains of rock into copper ingots, all in service to an employer largely indifferent to workers’ welfare. With horror and humor, anger, courage, and sorrow, the authors and their interviewees reveal how ASARCO subjected its employees and an unsuspecting public to pollution, diseases, and early death—with little in the way of compensation.
Elaine Hampton and Cynthia C. Ontiveros weave this eloquent testimony into a cautionary tale of toxic exposure, community activism, and a corporate employer’s dubious relationship with ethics—set against the political tug-of-war between industry’s demands and government’s obligation to protect the health of its people and the environment.
February 20-22, 2020
University of Houston
The XV Recovery conference will convene in Houston from February 20 to 22, 2020 to continue the legacy of scholars meeting to discuss and present their research. The conference theme invites scholars—including archivists, librarians, linguists, historians, critics, theorists and community members–to share examples of the cultural legacy they are recovering, preserving and making available about the culture of the Hispanic world whose peoples resided here, immigrated to or were exiled in the United States over the past centuries. This conference foregrounds the work of Latinas that focuses on women’s rights, suffrage and education as we usher in a new phase of feminist critical genealogies. We seek papers, panels and posters in either English or Spanish that highlight these many contributions, but also offer us critical ways to rethink issues of agency, gender, sexualities, race/ethnicity, class and power. Of particular interest are presentations about digital humanities scholarship, methods and practices on these themes.
The end date for Recovery research and themes will now be 1980 in order to give scholars, archivists, linguists and librarians the stimulus needed to begin recovering the documentary legacy of the 1960s and 1970s, which is fast disappearing. We encourage papers or panels that make use of archival research that provokes a revision of established literary interpretations and/or historiographies. Papers or posters on locating, preserving and making accessible movement(s) documents generated by Latinas and Latinos in those two decades will be welcome. Studies on the following themes, as manifested before 1960, will be welcome:
Analytical studies of recovered authors and/or texts
Critical, historical and theoretical approaches to recovered texts
Curriculum development: Integrating recovered texts into teaching at university and K-12 levels
Religious thought and practice
Language, translation, bilingualism and linguistics
Library and information science
Social implications, cultural analyses
Collections and archives: accessioning and critical archive studies
Documenting the long road/struggle toward equality
1960-1980 only movement(s)-related research
Additionally, XV Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Conference will offer two US Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH; #usLdh) pre-conference workshops open to conference attendees and members of the public. The workshop themes are: 1) Using Recovery archives for traditional scholarship and 2) Introduction to Digital Humanities. Pre-registration is required, a limited number of scholarships may be available. We welcome general audiences including undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students are encouraged to submit proposals for poster presentations.
Submit your 250-word abstract for papers/posters and vitae by email to email@example.com by August 31, 2019.
In Charros: How Mexican Cowboys Are Remapping Race and American Identity (University of California Press, 2019), Dr. Laura R. Barraclough tells a surprising story about the urban American West. Barraclough, the Sarai Ribicoff Associate Professor in American Studies at Yale University, writes the history of elite Mexican and Mexican-American cowboys – charros – and how charro culture served as a site of contested national identity in the mid twentieth century United States. In Western cities such as Los Angeles, Denver, and San Antonio, Chicano men and women used charro organizations and events as places where one could assert both Mexican and American, as well as middle- and upper-class, identities. Rather than the archetypical image of a white, dusty, cowboy riding alone across a desolate mesa, Charrosportrays a Western ranching culture that is more urban, more flamboyant, more crowded, and less white than many Americans may assume.
Reviewed by Stephen Hausmann for New Books Network.
In the 1970s the Mexican government acted to alleviate rural unemployment by supporting the migration of able-bodied men. Millions crossed into the United States to find work that would help them survive as well as sustain their families in Mexico. They took low-level positions that few Americans wanted and sent money back to communities that depended on their support. But as U.S. authorities pursued more aggressive anti-immigrant measures, migrants found themselves caught between the economic interests of competing governments. The fruits of their labor were needed in both places, and yet neither country made them feel welcome.
Ana Raquel Minian explores this unique chapter in the history of Mexican migration. Undocumented Lives draws on private letters, songs, and oral testimony to recreate the experience of circular migration, which reshaped communities in the United States and Mexico. While migrants could earn for themselves and their families in the U.S., they needed to return to Mexico to reconnect with their homes periodically. Despite crossing the border many times, they managed to belong to communities on both sides of it. Ironically, the U.S. immigration crackdown of the mid-1980s disrupted these flows, forcing many migrants to remain north of the border permanently for fear of not being able to return to work. For them, the United States became known as the jaula de oro—the cage of gold.
Undocumented Lives tells the story of Mexicans who have been used and abused by the broader economic and political policies of Mexico and the United States.
On May 14, 2019, in a collaboration between the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 60, the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press, and SERJobs, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of the Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive. Among those in attendance was Perales’ daughter, Marta Perales Carrizales. This digital archive marks the first digitized collection on the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Archives site.
Alonso S. Perales was one of the most prominent US Civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. He was born in Alice, Texas in 1898. Perales served in the US Army during World War I. After his military service, he attended college and law school at the National University (which later became George Washington University). Upon receiving his law degree, Perales became only the third Mexican American to practice law in Texas (Olivas xi). Perales dedicated his life to Mexican American civil rights and empowering the working-class community through knowledge and education. In 1929, Perales co-founded of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC)–the first nationwide Mexican American civil rights organization, not to mention the largest and oldest US Latino political association. He served as the second LULAC national president from 1930 to 1931 (xiv). In addition to his work in the United States, Perales served as Nicaraguan Consul General for twenty-five years and as counsel to the Nicaraguan delegation to the United Nations in 1945. In addition, he helped draft the original Charter of the United Nations. Perales authored Are We Good Neighbors and two volumes of En defensa de mi raza. His writing stressed the need for anti-discrimination legislation and civil activism for the Latino community.
Alonso S. Perales Collection
The Alonso S. Perales Collection is Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage’s flagship online digital archive. In 2009, Marta Perales Carrizales and Raymond Perales donated their father’s extensive personal papers to the University of Houston’s Recovery Program. This collection, which measures over 40 linear feet, contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, civil rights writings, and foundational documents related to LULAC. The online digital collection includes a large sampling of these documents. To facilitate accessibility, the digital documents include full-text transcriptions and bilingual keywords for searches. In the future, more US Latino digital archives will be added to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections (available at: usldhrecovery.uh.edu). The original Alonso S. Perales Papers are housed at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
Are We Good Neighbors? Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas
Perales’ activism also included the empowerment of his community. He urged people to publicly share experiences of discrimination, including the names and addresses of businesses where they were refused service. Many of the testimonies sworn to him in his capacity as Notary Public appeared in his book, Are We Good Neighbors?
The digital mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, uses the information in these testimonials to locate these incidents on a map in an attempt to reveal the embodiment of racism. One after another, these accounts tell stories of everyday life: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, looking for employment, or moving to a new house. Yet, for people of Mexican descent, these activities were marked by disgust, hatred, shame, and even violence. This project highlights the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our own neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics.
The Alonso S. Perales Collection Twitter Bot (@AlonsoSPerales) also strives to bring attention to his activism. This Twitter account automatically posts quotations (in English and Spanish) from Perales’ writing and allows his voice to continue to advocate for education, equality, and justice.
The Perales Collection is extremely important for our understanding of the historical trajectory of US Latinx civil rights. The documents in this collection reveal the ways our community refused to remain silent, even in the face of persecution. Civil rights leaders such as Perales fought for justice long before the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The history embedded in this collection is not readily available in K-12 history books. We hope that digital projects such as these can empower our community through education and help Latina/o/x schoolchildren see themselves reflected in US history in a positive light.
LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide.
Arte Público Press is the oldest and largest Hispanic publisher in the United States. Established in 1979, it is the principal provider of cultural materials on Latino life in the United States for general and educational audiences.
SERJobs is a nonprofit community organization that educates and equips people in the Texas Gulf Coast Region who come from low-income backgrounds or who have significant barriers to employment.
This article by Jennifer Caroccio for Comicosity is super interesting!
In 1980 Ana Mendieta was the first Cuban-American artist to return to Cuba after the 1961 Cuban revolution. In 1971 Benjy Melendez held one of the largest meetings of New York City Gangs in the Bronx to discuss a peace agreement. Have you heard of either of these significant Latinx people in a history class or popular media? If yes, then kudos to you. If not, then you like many others, I suspect, are learning their names for the first time. II learned about Ana Mendieta and Bengy Melendez from reading their comic biographies.
Specifically, the graphic narratives Who is Ana Mendieta? written by Christine Redfern and illustrated by Caro Caron, and Ghetto Brothers: Warrior to Peacemakerwritten by Julian Voloj and illustrated by Claudia Ahlering. Both Redfern and Voloj, later with the help of artists Caron and Ahlering, set out to recover the memory of Ana Mendieta and Bengy Melendez; using the graphic form to tell their story.
Biographies are big business in the United States. From the multi-volume works of U.S. presidents to the vast bio-pics at the box office, we love to tell history from the perspective of the individual. So, it makes sense then for biography and comics to merge.
These two books are not the first. There is a large selection of comic biographies out there. However, many of them, like with the rest of comics, lack a focus on people of color.
That is why I have spent the past four years collecting and studying comic biographies about U.S. Latinx people. They make readily accessible the rich Latinx history in the United States. Comics have long been a way to engage different types of readers. Comic biographies offer stories to new comics and history readers alike.
Who is Ana Mendieta? tells the artistic journey of Havana-born artist Ana Mendieta. She came to the United States as a child after the Castro revolution through Operation Pedro Pan (an agreement between the U.S. State department, the Catholic Welfare bureau and the Cuban government that allowed thousands of Cuban minors to immigrate to the United States in the early 1960s).
Caron’s hyperbolic illustrations show Mendieta as she comes of age in Iowa, developing her artistic techniques: first painting then moving on to body and performance art, then later land art—which is her most iconic work: “Siluetas series.” The comic biography shows Mendieta reclaim her Cuban heritage in her work as she moves away from the mainstream white feminist art movement to incorporate more Latin American and Caribbean traditions in her art.
Ghetto Brothers gives readers a glimpse of what it was like to come of age in the Bronx in the 1960s when it was left to burn. Ahlering’s delicate, watercolor drawings show a young Melendez and his Puerto Rican family moving to the Bronx like many other poor and working-class families displaced from lower Manhattan. The reader sees how he navigates everyday violence by entering the protection of a neighborhood gang. He later forms his own interracial gang called the Ghetto Brothers. But it after the death of his friend that he takes up the task of uniting many of the rivaling gangs to curb violence in the city.
The narrative also includes the broader history of city planner Robert Moses, who designed many of the bridges, parks and beaches in New York City and Long Island. Much of Moses plans treated communities of color as disposable—often bulldozing straight through neighborhoods to build expressways that allowed wealthier and white New Yorkers access to the suburbs and beaches.
When read side-by-side these comic biographies not only recover Latinx social actors in history, but also provide alternative histories that show you cannot tell U.S. history without also telling Latinx history.
Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio is a new public art project featuring photographs by renowned photographer, Hiram Maristany ~ a founding member of the Young Lords and their official photographer. Follow along as we take the walking tour, map in hand to view 10 large-scale images across five locations in El Barrio.
Beginning on East 99th Street
The Young Lords New York were a revolutionary group of Puerto Rican activists inspired by the Black Panthers, who organized for social justice in El Barrio in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. They organized around issues of political liberation and core community concerns such as health, food, education and housing. The image above is entitled March to Free the Panther 21 taken by Hiram Maristany in 1969. It has been installed on the side of PS 109 (215 East 99th Street), an abandoned school transformed into an affordable housing complex of live/work space for local artists.
Moving east on 99th Street between First and Second Avenues, The first public campaign of the Young Lords became the Garbage Offensive, 1969 (two large images below). While wealthier communities had regular trash pickup, East Harlem and other poor communities of color throughout the city were left with trash piling up.
In protest, the Young Lords confronted the local NYC Sanitation depot ~ 111th Street at Third Avenue, and together with the community, they swept the garbage into the middle of the street, forming a barricade that halted traffic.
They set the barricade on fire, forcing the police and fire department to intervene, and they mobilized the press to document the event.
Continuing on to 111th Street, corner of Second Avenue, a large-format image of the Garbage Offensive is on view on the wall of Experts Knights Collision.
Lexington Avenue at 111th Street (below) is a corner filled with history. In the image below, to the right, sit the 1st Spanish United Methodist Church ~ briefly occupied by the Young Lords in 1969 and 1970. The historic church is currently on the back-burner of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, with continuing discussion about the merit of historic cultural significance as it pertains to the Young Lords.
Below is a closeup of the image of Young Lords marching to the Bronx in support of members of the Black Panther Party, 1967.
We can’t leave this corner without posting the image below of Nuyorican writer, Nicholasa Mohr, on the side of the school located on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 111th Street, as part of the Monument Art Project in 2015.
The largest of the Mapping Resistance installations is location on Madison Avenue at 112th Street (above), on the fence of an empty lot where permits were recently filed to build a fifteen-story, mixed-use building.
Many of the images at this site relate to the Young Lords seizing a T B Truck in 1970. The underutilized truck, was only open part-time, not serving the community. The mobile unit was seized at 116th street and set up across the street from the Young Lords Headquarters on Madison Avenue at 111th Street. The technicians assigned to that mobil unit continued to take X-rays.
When the Young Lords were done, the mobile unit extended its days and hours to 9am to 9pm every weekday.
Below is a wonderfully thought out walking map, with the installations set to give those taking the walking tour a nice slice of El Barrio.
Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio, photographs by Hiram Maristany, commemorating the activist history of the Young Lords, was organized by artist Miguel Luciano, with support from the Surdna Foundation, A Blade of Grass and El Museo del Barrio. The installation will be on view through September 30, 2019. Information on the images at each site, in English and Spanish.
Latinx: The Future Is Now is a new interdisciplinary series devoted to the evolving field of Latina/o/x studies, including Central American, Afro-Latinx, and Asian-Latinx studies. Situated at the nexus of cultural, performance, historical, food, environmental, and textual studies, the series will focus on ways in which the racial, cultural, and social formations of historical Latinx communities can engage and enhance scholarship across geographies and nationalities. The series editors invite projects that consider the multiple queer and gender-fluid possibilities that are embodied in the “x”; projects that have a feminist critique of patriarchy at the center of their intellectual work; projects that deploy a relational approach to ethnic and national groups; and projects that address the overlapping dynamics of gender, race, sexual, and national identities.
Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández is Associate Professor of American Studies and Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. She is an expert in Borderlands History after 1846, Transnational Feminist Methodologies, Latinx Studies, and Popular Culture and Immigration. As a public intellectual, Dr. Guidotti-Hernández has written numerous articles for the feminist magazine Ms. and the feminist blog The Feminist Wire, covering such topics as immigration, reproductive rights, and the Dream act. She also sits on the national advisory council for the Ms. and is currently on the national advisory council for Freedom University in Athens, Georgia.
Dr. Lorgia Garcia-Peña is the Roy G. Clouse Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of award-winning book The Borders of Dominicanidad and the co-founder of Freedom University Georgia, a modern-day freedom school created to support undocumented students.
Looking to do some research? Check out this new digital collection being put forth by the University of Arizona:
The Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press collection documents and showcases historic Mexican and Mexican American publications published in Tucson, El Paso, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sonora, Mexico from the mid-1800s to the 1970s.