Remapping Borderlands and the Latinx Archive in the 20th Century

AHA Session 73
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Madison Square (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Marla A. Ramirez, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Session Abstract

This panel examines the excavation of 20th-century historical sources about Latinx experiences in the U.S. Where does Latinx history fit in U.S. historiography? What does Latinx history teach all historians about methodology and approach to history? To answer these questions, this panel will center the dig for sources which then form a Latinx historical narrative. Paying particular attention to the nuances at the margins of history, the papers in this panel unearth histories that negotiate with mainstream historical narratives.

The collection of papers opens with Dr. Marla Andrea Ramirez’ paper “The Villegas Robles Family: Gender Formations and Transnational Motherhood,” which offers an examination of Mexican repatriation and its banishment of children who were U.S. citizens during the years leading up to and shortly following the Great Depression, 1921-1944. In her study, Marla Ramírez conducts archival research, oral histories and employs a legal analysis to understand the prolonged consequences of exclusion that continues to have negative ramifications on three generations. The panel then moves to doctoral candidate Angel Rodriguez’ paper, “Augmenting the Archive: Connected History, Information Design, and U.S-Guatemalan Digital Borderlands” which offers a discussion of the joint United States Public Health Service-Guatemalan Syphilis Study (Cutler Papers) in 1946-1948 to examine how the digitization of these papers formatted a digital borderland between the U.S and Guatemala.

The discussion continues with doctoral candidate, Janett Barragán Miranda’s paper, “Consuming the Archive: Calorie Counting and Americanization in Spanish Language Newspapers.” The paper employs three advice columns geared toward women, which appear in the most popular and oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, La Opinion, to reveal the gendered aspects as well as racialization of Latinx communities in the United States. The panel closes with Dr. Eddy Francisco Alvarez’ paper, “Finding Sequins in the Rubble: Mapping Latina Migrant Lesbian Journeys in(to) Los Angeles.” The paper focuses on two everyday Latina lesbians in LA whose stories add texture to the broader LA queer history and that of queer migrants in the city. Alvarez argues that histories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Los Angeles has ignored Latinx queer communities until recently. Subsequently, Lesbian Latinas have been especially marginalized, particularly those who are migrants and refugees

Through their papers, the panelists divulge the creative strategies they have deployed to navigate the silences of archival collection practices, including the emerging challenges with accessing data about the Latinx population. Together, these four papers highlight the marginalized history of Latinx communities in the United States. The panel explores illustrative accounts of Latinx History research as well as how researchers digest the archive. In doing so, it offers historians interested Latinx History ways to navigate data collection.

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