Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Unbound Border: Political Violence, Migration, and Community in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Saturday, April 14, 2007

11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Unbound Border: Political Violence, Migration, and Community in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands
Chair: Marc Rodriguez, University of Notre Dame

Political Violence and Electoral Disputes in the New Mexico Territory, ca. 1850–1870s
Jose Angel Hernandez, University of Chicago
This paper examines several cases of electoral fraud and political corruption in the New Mexico territory between 1854-1870.  These cases of electoral fraud, I believe, are crucial to understanding the process that would ultimately culminate in a riot in 1871, leaving nine people dead and another fifty wounded. Hence, the essay examines the contested elections of 1854, 1856, and 1868 for the position of territorial delegate to the US Congress in the territory of New Mexico.  I do this in order to examine the political background to the violent events of 1871 that forced an estimated 100 families to migrate to Chihuahua and found the colony of La Ascension the following year.

But aside from describing the process and practice of fraud, the use of Mexican citizens in US elections and the violent tactics employed to intimidate potential voters, these records also revealed other interesting aspects that were not given proper illumination.  Here, the use of Mexican citizens in US elections provides us with a unique vantage point to examine the transition to a US system of governance through the lens of electoral frauds in the elections for Congressional delegate. 

Crumbs of Fresh Bread for Everyone: Mexican Rural Women, Migration, and the Reconstruction of Community
Josef Barton, Northwestern University
In the half century between 1880 and 1930, Mexican rural peoples entered into migratory agricultural work. In the larger context of twentieth-century North American history, the formation of this migratory work force was a crucial element in the making of two modern economies. Some of this is well studied.  But several pressing issues remain.  First, historians know remarkably little about how the rural poor actually confronted the changes that engulfed their communities. Second, they have little studied how the rural poor reconfigured and reconstituted communities in the face of physical and cultural dismemberment.  Third, historians still lack a full understanding of the ways that migration facilitated the recovery of rural communities.  And, finally, far too little of the work that does exist on these issues is comparative. This project aims to speak to these issues through a historical study of women and men in northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States between 1880 and 1930.

Co-Commentators: John M. Nieto-Phillips, Indiana University and Juan Mora Torres, DePaul University