Borderlands and Latino Studies Saturday Mini-Conference

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Saturday, April 27, 2013

9 am to 3 pm

Panel 1

“Cucapá Families, Intermarriages, and Migration in the Mexico-U.S. Borderlands”
Verónica Castillo-Muñoz, University Of California, Santa Barbara

“A Land of Merchantmen and ‘Murder Crosses’: Legal Trading Networks in Matamoros, 1825-1848”
Melisa Galvan, University of California, Berkeley

“The Politics of Curanderismo”
Jennifer Seman, Southern Methodist University

Teresa Urrea (1873-1906) and Don Pedrito Jaramillo (1829-1907) practiced curanderismo—a Mexican faith healing tradition–in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands during the turn of the twentieth century, a period of rapid social and political transformations in both Mexico and the United States. Porfirio Díaz’s program of “order and progress” coincided with similar modernizing projects in the United States such as railroad construction and progressive reforms. By examining the lives and healing practices of borderlands dwellers Teresa Urrea and Pedrito Jaramillo in the context of their turbulent times, this paper will interrogate the political possibilities of subaltern knowledge through the intimate practice of curanderismo.

Commentator: Mauricio Tenorio, University of Chicago

Panel 2

“Extralegal Exclusion: Policing Chinese Movement over the U.S.-Canadian Boundary”
Beth Lew Williams, Northwestern University

“White Slavery and the Sexual Self: Morals Policing and Immigration Control at the U.S. – Mexico Borderlands, 1875-1910”
Grace Peña Delgado, Pennsylvania State University

Commentator: Elliott Young, Lewis And Clark College

Panel 3

“A Machine Set into Motion: The Rise of Federal Law Enforcement Along the Border”
CJ Alvarez, University of Chicago

The United States Border Patrol is now the largest federal law enforcement agency ever assembled in U.S. history. Even though it hasn’t always been the biggest policing organization, it has always been the most controversial. But where did the Border Patrol come from? The historical literature usually assumes that its creation in 1924 was a result the U.S. experience in the first World War and the proliferation of new and restrictive immigration laws. I believe, however, based on research in the National Archives, that a more significant and rarely noticed influence in the Patrol’s origin was pressure from the War Department based on the Army’s experience along the U.S.-Mexico divide during the Mexican Revolution.

“From Bugs to Bodies: Changing the Nature of Migration at the U.S.-Mexico Border”
Mary Mendoza, University of California, Davis

The first iteration of border fortification consisted of fences, border stations, and dipping vats where U.S. government officials could hunt for and kill bugs. Yes, bugs—specifically ticks and lice. These bug hunters—officials from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the United States Public Health Service (USPHS)—set out to find and eradicate ticks and lice that had caused outbreaks of Texas fever and typhus in the Southwest. By 1911, the BAI had built fences to regulate and impede the movement of ticks and by 1916 the USPHS had built bathhouses where officials could rid human bodies of typhus causing lice. By the middle of the twentieth century, reasons for border fortification shifted from ridding the nation of bugs to regulating the movement of human bodies. Officials tried to make this transition as seamless as possible and in the process animalized human beings by placing them behind a fence intended to control the movement of cattle, ticks, and other environmental threats. Blurring the lines of the human/non-human nature divide, this paper examines how border fences and other infrastructure during the Bracero era became tools for regulating the migration of Mexican people and highlight the centrality of the natural environment in the story of border fortification.

“Strengthening ‘La Jaula de Oro’: The Passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act”
Ana Minian, Yale University

My paper, “Strengthening ‘La Jaula de Oro’: The Passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act,” explores the debates in Congress over the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which radically altered the flow of Mexican migration to the United States. It examines the voices of ethnic Mexican organizations, labor groups, business leaders, and focuses on the question of migrant belonging. Between 1972 and 1986, as Congress debated the passage of the immigration bill that would ultimately become IRCA, the idea that there should be a stratified hierarchy of belonging gained power. Advocates of this new classification system aimed to distinguish between different socio-legal groups of residents and proposed to offer each of them distinct degrees of belonging. In response, Mexican American organizations claimed that creating a society in which some residents were not fully included would ultimately erode everyone’s capacity to belong—even that of citizens.

Commentator: Rachel Buff, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Cost and registration information: 

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