Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Nelly Blacker-Hanson, Valparaiso University and Andy Eisen, University of Illinois

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Thursday, March 25, 2010

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

“A Community in Transition: Competing Identities
Nelly Blacker-Hanson, Valparaiso University

Mexican and Mexican-American workers were a vital component of labor organizing in the 1930s. Particularly significant were efforts to overcome divisions of nationality, language and cultural heritage. They faced competing calls to identify as workers and Mexicans. While it would be inaccurate and simplistic to argue that these identities – ethnic and class – could only be mutually exclusive, the struggle for primacy was waged on the pages of the dailies, in the fields, the labor halls, and at the negotiating table. The medium I use to explore these competing forces is the newspapers: La Opinión, the widely-read Spanish-language paper; The Daily Worker, of the CP-USA; and the notoriously anti-union Los Angeles Times, which found itself in a tenuous alliance with the Mexican consulate.


“Entangled Borders: International security and the relocation of Japanese in Mexico during World War II”
Andy Eisen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Mexican army, with the aide of U.S. military intelligence agencies, oversaw the removal of Japanese and Japanese-Mexicans residing within 150km of Mexico’s western coastline, northern border, and later, its southern border with Guatemala. This paper, utilizing archival research collected in Mexico City and Washington D.C., examines the cooperative policing efforts that emerged during World War II. It documents how Mexico’s coasts and borders became entangled with the United States’ international security efforts and then reveals how these fears resulted in the subsequent surveillance, harassment, relocation, and in some cases, detention of Japanese in camps established in central Mexico.

Commentator: John Nieto-Phillips, Indiana University