Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Mini-Conference | Newberry

Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Mini-Conference

Saturday, March 31, 2012

9:00 am to 3:00 pm


Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar

Please note that this session will run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday

“Claiming Benefits: The Life and Work of Puerto Rican Seamstress Juana Capo, 1868-1957

Emma Amador, University of Michigan
Puerto Rican women have toiled as domestic workers in the bustling metropolitan economy of San Juan since it was founded.  This paper traces the life history of one of these workers, the seamstress Juana Capo, from her birth as a slave on a plantation in Guyama through the streets of San Juan where she worked as a seamstress until 1957. Juana’s experience
applying for old age assistance from the Department of Public Welfare is used to explore how domestic workers became welfare recipients and were thus cast in a new role in relationship to the state. This paper illustrates how these women did not cease to be entrepreneurs, however, as they strategically navigated the intertwined worlds of informal work and government aid.

“Third World Radicalism, El Grito, and Chicana/o Studies: The University of California at Berkeley Experiment, 1968 –1975
Jose G. Moreno, Michigan State University
This paper offers a critical and historical examination of third world radicalism, oppositional scholarship and the foundation of Chicana/o Studies discipline at the University of California at Berkeley from the years 1968 to 1975. This chapter argues that the Free Speech Movement of 1964 and the Third World Liberation Front 1968-1969 directed the historical foundation of the Chicana/o Studies discipline at UC Berkeley. Part one, provides a historical and political context on ideology radicalism and early 20th century people of color political and social radicalism in U.S. empire. Section two, contextualizes how the Free Speech Movement of 1964 and Third World Radicalism of 1968-1969 made to the political and ideological construction of the Ethnic Studies and Chicana/o Studies movement at UC Berkeley The next section explains the political formation of the Chicana/o Studies discipline at UCB.  Section four offers a critical textual analysis on the UCB Chicana/o Studies publication of El Grito. Moreover, by 1975 the University of California of Berkeley clustered all of the Ethnic Studies programs into one major academic department.

“Alien Bodies/Legal Texts: A forensic and ethnographic post-mortem on federal emancipation dockets in New Mexico (1848/1868)”
Robert F. Castro, California State University, Fullerton
I diagram how the enforcement of U.S. anti-captivity law evolved over time and circumstance. Beginning from its treaty-based origins in 1848, I trace its development to 1868, when civilian officials approached captivity incidents as a criminal justice issue.  Specifically, I will evaluate the emancipation dockets of federal liberators in New Mexico. These emancipation dockets are important colonial artifacts which contain not only key demographic information about the captives themselves, but these registers also reveal important clues into how U.S. officials – at two different time periods –  implemented their duty to enforce American law relative to non-white populations in New Mexico.

Commentator: John Alba Cutler, Northwestern University

“Collaboration Across Borders: María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s Who Would Have Thought It?

Cara Kinnally, Indiana University
In this paper, I move beyond a Latino Studies critical paradigm that privileges resistance as the defining characteristic of U.S. Latino literary production. Using María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s novel, Who Would Have Thought It? (1872), as an example, I argue that we can understand her work as part of a larger—though now obscured or forgotten—transnational and intercultural literary history that embraced collaboration between Anglo Americans, Mexicans, and U.S. Latinos. Through Ruiz de Burton’s discussion of whiteness/blackness and femininity, she participates in and promotes transnational cultural and racial discourses that connected U.S. Latinos to Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.

“Haunted Borderlands: Space, Bewitching, and the Transnational in Jovita González’s Dew on the Thorn and Life Along the Border
Wanalee Romero, Northwestern University
Before the Chicano Movement introduced the concept of Aztlán to American cultural studies and Gloria Anzaldúa queered the notion of mestizaje and border dwelling, indelibly changing borderland studies, Jovita González (1904-1983) penned a haunted borderland in her folkloric novel Dew on the Thorn.  In this chapter I untangle the González’s use of folklore rife with bewitching, bedevilment, and soullessness.  I find that she wrote of a borderland community of Texas Mexicans attached to an atavistic Mexican way of life but who are at the same time haunted by it, their role in the cycles of conquest in the region, and their vexed position with the coming of the “Americanos.”

“Américo Paredes’s The Shadow and the ‘Other’ Novel of the Mexican Revolution”
Yolanda Padilla, University of Pennsylvania
This paper examines how early twentieth-century Mexican American writers responded to the crisis of the Mexican Revolution, arguing that they grappled with the war’s meanings and consequences in ways that were shaped by their positions as border subjects marginalized by the national cultures of both Mexico and the United States. I read these Mexican American engagements with the war as part of the preeminent Mexican narrative thematic, the novel of the Revolution, and argue that Mexican Americans produced what I call “the ‘other’ novel of the Revolution,” narratives that insist that Mexicans in the United States be accounted for in the Mexican national project.    

Commentator: Jose Limon, University of Notre Dame

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.