Journal of American History

Latino History: An Interchange on Present Realities and Future Prospects

In her 2006 Organization of American Historians (oah) presidential address, Vicki Ruiz invoked José Martí’s landmark 1891 essay “Nuestra América” in calling for a more comprehensive, transhemispheric vision of the U.S. past, one that understands “Latino history as United States history.” For more than four decades, scholars have written about U.S. Latina and Latino experiences, often under the rubric of Mexican American or Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, or immigration history. Recent scholarship, especially, has embraced such a transhemispheric vision.

Inspired in large part by Ruiz’s address, this interchange engages ten scholars in a conversation about ways they conceptualize, research, and teach Latino history within national and transnational narratives. We are honored to have such a distinguished group of scholars whose work in and out of the classroom reflects the dynamism and meaning of Latino history as U.S. history.

The JAH is indebted to all of the participants for their willingness to enter into the online conversation:

Adrian Burgos Jr. is associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, where he teaches courses on U.S. Latino history, urban history, the history of sports, and African American studies. He is the author of Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (2007) and a contributing author to Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball (2006). He is a coeditor with Gina Pérez and Frank Guridy of Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latino/a America (2010) and is completing a biography of Alex Pompez, an Afro-Cuban numbers banker and Negro League owner in Harlem. Readers may contact Burgos at .

Donna Gabaccia is Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include immigration to the United States, especially focusing on women, labor, and food. She is the author of Italy’s Many Diasporas (2000) and the coeditor of numerous volumes on U.S. immigration history. She is currently working on an international history of immigration to the United States. Readers may contact Gabaccia at .

María Cristina García is professor of history and Latino studies at Cornell University. Her research interests include the history of immigration and refugees, and she has written Havana, usa: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959–1994 (1996) and Seeking Refuge: Central American Immigration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada (2006). Her current project focuses on U.S. refugee policy since the end of the Cold War. Readers may contact García at .

Matthew Garcia is associate professor of American civilization, ethnic studies, and history at Brown University. He also served as outreach director for the Bracero History Archive Project, a collaborative oral history project by Brown University, the University of Texas, El Paso, the National Museum of American History, and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. He will be joining the Arizona State University faculty in fall 2011 as professor of history and transborder studies and will be the director of the new Interdisciplinary Program in Comparative Border Studies. His publications include A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (2001) and the forthcoming A Moveable Feast: The United Farmworkers in the Age of the Grape Boycott. Readers may contact Garcia at .

Kelly Lytle Hernández is associate professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and associate director of the National Center for History in the Schools. Her research interests include race, migration, police, and prison systems in twentieth-century U.S. history. She is the author of Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (2010). Readers may contact Hernández at .

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof is associate professor of history and American culture at the University of Michigan, where he teaches courses on Latin American history, the greater Caribbean, and Latina/os in the United States. He is the author of A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950 (2008) and is currently working on a book about color, class, and radicalism among Puerto Rican and Cuban émigrés in the nineteenth century. Readers may contact Hoffnung-Garskof at .

María E. Montoya is associate professor of history at New York University, where she teaches courses on labor history and the American West. Her publications include Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Problem of Land in the American West (2002). She is currently working on a U.S. history textbook for Houghton Mifflin. Readers may contact Montoya at .

George J. Sánchez is professor in the departments of History and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (1993) and coeditor of Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Cultures (2005). Readers may contact Sánchez at .

Virginia Sánchez Korrol is professor emerita at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Her research focuses on Puerto Rican and Latina/o history in New York City in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, highlighting the role of women. She is the author of From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City (1994) and Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (1999), cowritten with Marysa Navarro, and she has coedited Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community (2005) and Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia (2006), both with Vicki L. Ruiz. Readers may contact Sánchez Korrol at .

Paul Spickard is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he teaches courses on race and immigration history. His research focuses on the construction, maintenance, and expression of racial identities, and he is the author of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity (2007). Readers may contact Spickard at .

JAH: Vicki Ruiz’s 2006 presidential address to the Organization of American Historians (oah) urged U.S. historians to contemplate “Latino history as United States history.”[1] To what extent does her vision resonate with your scholarship and teaching of U.S. history? What are particular challenges you have faced? What kinds of opportunities do you foresee? How might such a vision intersect with or alter popular narratives of U.S. (or, for that matter, Latin American) history?

María Cristina García: Just yesterday the department sent me my course evaluations from the fall semester. One of the courses I taught was the first part of the Latino history survey, which covers the colonial period to 1898. One student wrote, “This course is not all that different from the U.S. history survey, only you see U.S. history through the eyes of a Latino worker, intellectual, politician, etc.” The rest of the comments on that evaluation suggested the student was surprised—shocked even—to find out that she/he would learn so much U.S. history. Every time I offer Latino history courses, I get one or two evaluations that reflect this surprise. I can’t help but wonder, when students register for one of these courses, what do they think the course is about?

I do ask students to reframe U.S. history somewhat. I ask them to consider how their understanding of U.S. history would change if we begin the national narrative in sixteenth-century New Mexico rather than seventeenth-century Virginia. I ask them to consider what U.S. history looks like from the perspective of the colonized and the immigrant, the exile and the transnational. In the Latino history survey we examine pivotal events and themes in U.S. history—expansion and empire, migration and nation building, industrialization and labor, and war and revolution—but from the perspective of “Latino” populations. It is an “American experience” broadly defined to include “americanos” of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, and Central/South American ancestries.

Having said that, if Latino history is U.S. history, it is also Latin American history. I can’t teach the history of the United States without drawing on the history of Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and so forth. I try to assign work by our colleagues in Latin American studies, if it is available in English, because it sometimes offers a very different interpretation of a particular event. The national history of the United States—and Mexico, Brazil, and other countries in the hemisphere, for that matter—looks very different if we examine it through a regional rather than a national lens. Some history departments, including my own, have begun to explore such possibilities through courses such as “The Atlantic World” and “Comparative Borderlands” as well as ones on comparative diasporas, etc. The study of Latinos and migration in general is an obvious thematic thread that is helpful in studying the history of our region.

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof: I think that those of us who teach Latina/o history are necessarily already doing what Vicki Ruiz describes, rethinking the United States from within the Americas. This is necessary because Latina/o is an ethnoracial category that encompasses a fragmentary set of experiences situated in strikingly different regions of the United States. The category Latina/o includes people of varied national backgrounds, of African, European, indigenous, mixed, and other ancestries, and of English, Spanish, and Portuguese fluency (not to mention dozens of indigenous and creole languages). It includes people who emigrated from Latin America yesterday, people who live in Puerto Rico and have never visited the mainland, and people whose families have lived in New Mexico for centuries. Furthermore, most of the people we teach about in Latina/o history classes never identified themselves as “Latinos.”

Latina/o history courses therefore cannot be fit into the classic ethnic narrative, with a naturally existing community of immigrants slowly overcoming resistance to their American citizenship. Teachers of Latina/o history have to conceptualize what, historically, brings together the varied experiences of “Latinos” into a single, comprehensible frame. My strategy is to situate diverse Latino histories in a broad framework of the Americas. The retelling of U.S. history from within the Americas becomes the unifying thread that can link Californio, Tejano, Cubano, Mexican American, Chicano, Boricua, and other histories. I start with the question, how does it come to be that one part of the Americas is imagined and represented as Latin and another part is imagined and represented as Anglo (or just American)? This process began with competition between Spanish and English colonial projects to colonize native spaces, but it was continued by Latin American republics and the United States as they engaged in conquest on their frontiers and turned colonial legacies into national projects. It has since been continually remade through moments of contact and conflict between U.S. and Latin American people. Latino history, I argue in my courses, is a history of many instances in which people who identify themselves (or are identified by others) as rightly pertaining to the Latin part of the hemisphere come to reside in the ostensibly Anglo region. The students and I think about the ways that different groups identified as Latino negotiated ideas about their difference while participating in major events of U.S. history—wars of expansion and conquest, labor movements and conflicts, industrialization, depression and world wars, the rise of the New Deal state, the legal history of immigration restriction and reform, civil rights movements, and the shift to a service economy. We think about struggles for rights and belonging (and efforts to maintain or define distinct or homeland-oriented cultures). But we always situate these processes within the broad scope of hemispheric relations, which depend on (and continually reconstruct) notions of a cultural and racial divide between north and south while also structuring inequalities of power and resources across geographical space.

María Cristina García: I am excited that we can have this conversation about Latino history and Latino studies, in general. When I began my graduate studies in the 1980s there were maybe a dozen Chicano studies programs in the United States and a handful of Puerto Rican studies programs, concentrated largely in the Southwest and the Northeast, respectively. The number of Latino graduate students was small, especially women; by the time I received my doctorate in 1990, for example, there were less than a dozen Chicanas in the United States with Ph.D.’s in history. The first graduate course I took in Chicano history had a limited reading list. We read a handful of foundational texts in the field by authors such as Américo Paredes and Rodolfo Acuña.[2] But every year the number of publications on my bookshelves grew. It was hard to keep up with all the new work that was coming out in Chicano and Puerto Rican studies, and this is what made this field so exciting.

By the 1990s a generational shift had occurred, and new types of programs emerged around the country, some focused on the experiences of a particular group such as Dominicans or Cubans, others focused more broadly on something called “Latino studies.” Like the Chicano and Puerto Rican studies programs founded in the 1960s and 1970s, the newer Latino studies programs were also born of activism by students and faculty. But as the scholar Juan Flores has argued, the emergence of Latino studies in the 1990s needs to be understood as a distinct social movement.[3] The students and scholars of this new social movement were the children of the post-1965 migration from Latin America; Latino/as who were too young to have lived through the earlier struggles for curricular reform but who stood on the shoulders of the earlier activists. Joining Chicanos and Puerto Ricans were Cubans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Ecuadorans, Chileans, and many other so-called New Latinos from over a dozen countries in the Americas, whose numbers in the United States were now large enough to complicate our understanding of Latino history, the Latino experience in the United States, and the ways race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality affect integration. Using the umbrella term “Latino studies” worked because it did not privilege any one group and could potentially provide a space for the discussion of many different realities and positionalities.

Given the very different histories and trajectories of these groups, there are many different ways to frame and teach the history of those we call “Hispanics” or “Latinos,” focusing on the local, the national, and/or the hemispheric. All approaches are critical to our understanding.

Virginia Sánchez Korrol: How exciting to know that we have reached a point in the development of the field where such a conversation can take place—and that others are indeed interested in the evolution and best practices of teaching Latino history. Picking up on María Cristina’s observation of how far we have come reminds me of the day I walked into the history department at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, in the early 1970s, declared that I wanted to write a dissertation on the history of Puerto Ricans in New York, and that if they couldn’t help me I would go somewhere else. My generation of Latino scholars didn’t have the many options and opportunities available today so I was taking a big risk. If you wanted to study the Latino experience you either concentrated in American or Latin American history. I chose the latter, feeling it was the best option to worm my way into U.S. Puerto Rican history; many of my colleagues chose the then fairly young field of American studies to accomplish similar goals. Although we didn’t call it “Latino history” then, we sort of understood that these discrete fields of interest were part of something broader. We hoped to be the pioneers who would help shape the field.

Once we gained a toehold in fledgling departments and programs for Puerto Rican, Cuban, Chicano, Mexican American, and other Latino studies, a gradual evolution reflecting the state of the field took place. I say toehold because these academic programs were interdisciplinary, with only one or two history courses appearing in the curriculum. Forget about graduate level courses or guiding dissertations; those goals would not be realized until the late 1980s and then only in certain regions of the nation. For a while, historians trained in one aspect of the field, for example, Chicano or Cuban studies, found it difficult to offer more comprehensive courses on the broader Latino experience, but this is no longer the case. Through additional training and collaborative efforts many of us found ways to surmount that obstacle. And as María Cristina and Jesse point out, the field has grown enormously in the past decade. When I am invited to lecture to non-Latino audiences today, those who attend are interested in a myriad of Latino historical topics whereas ten years ago such events found limited audiences.

It doesn’t surprise me that students encounter wow! moments when they discover they are learning so much about U.S. history in our courses. They seldom have encountered this information in everyday life or in other educational settings. Survey texts on American, Caribbean, or Latin American history continue to pay scant attention to the role and formation of diasporic communities, and this wealth of knowledge needs to penetrate the public consciousness through means other than the academy: through K–12 social studies curricula, through educational programs in public institutions, and through mass media and other venues of public history. While we’ve made significant inroads into the academy, where do we go from here?

María Cristina García: I agree with Virginia that this information really needs to filter down to all levels of our society, but in some areas of the country we are up against very strong forces. I have been following the deliberations of the Texas State Board of Education (sbe), which is currently evaluating the elementary and high school curricula there. The sbe has tentatively decided that figures such as the former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Henry Cisneros, writer Sandra Cisneros, and labor activist and leader Dolores Huerta are not important enough to discuss in history books or in the curricula. They also voted to exclude Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor and voted to replace her with Justice Benjamin Cardozo. Revisions proposed by the few Latinas on the board, calling for some discussion of the Tejano rebels who died at the Alamo, the League of United Latin American Citizens (lulac), the G.I. Forum (a Hispanic veterans organization critical to the civil rights movement), La Raza Unida party (an important third party in the 1970s), among other topics, were defeated. Instead, the board gave preliminary approval to including the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority in the new curricula.[4]

Kelly Lytle Hernández: My courses on the American working class and California history, for example, presume transnational realities, cross-border dimensions, and global developments. That I am able to work from this presumption is a testament to the work of scholars such as Ruiz and the many others she cites who have done the heavy lifting through rigorous research to set new terms for conceptualizing historical inquiry. Of course, hemispheric approaches may be a little unsettling for students trained in more traditional narratives with strict borders, familiar institutions, and a constant westward progression, but I have found that my students typically—but not always—appreciate narratives of the American West that push eastward and northbound rather than simply move from Puritans to the Pacific. And students become deeply engaged in discussions about ever-shifting borders and borderlands. Teaching in Los Angeles, I have found that hemispheric approaches render history more tangible and legible in the lives of my students, many of whom are from first- or second-generation immigrant families. Further, because transhemispheric approaches often dislocate national triumphs as a main historical theme and instead highlight uneven, never-complete power struggles, my students seem to have a better grasp of the role of interpretation in historical narratives and of the interplay between past, present, and future. Most of all, there is nothing discrete—neither space-bound nor time-bound—about transhemispheric frameworks, which allows my students to take history off of the shelf and see it as a process in which they have a stake. However, I find all of this much more difficult to do when working with K–12 teachers who have the challenge of covering difficult material with very young students and, at times, the additional pressures of state standards for history instruction that may leave them with little flexibility.

Donna Gabaccia: I’m a firm believer in internationalizing the history of the United States and other nations with insights from world history. This makes me an idiosyncratic participant since I don’t teach Latino history. I’m quite sure that I share with other participants a desire to help my students recognize how their understanding of their own nation (be it the United States or some other nation) shapes the way they learn about and view the past. I teach “Migration in Global History” with a map of the world shining behind me on a PowerPoint screen. Zooming in for more detailed analysis may mean looking at a single continent, a single ocean basin (“the Atlantic”; “the Pacific”), an odd network or splotch on the map that represents a diaspora or migration network, or a single hemisphere. That hemisphere might be the “old” or “new” worlds (the Americas and the Afro-Eurasian ecumene) of the early modern era or the global “south” and “north” of today’s world.

It is through the conceit of hemisphere that I enter the conversation on Latino history as U.S. history. First, I’ve found it puzzling that José Martí and his “Nuestra América” provided our intellectual foundation. Surely, Martí was a hemispherist. The America that Martí wrote of as “ours” in 1891 was an America larger than any one American nation. America was decidedly not a synonym for the United States in Martí’s work. (How often I have to remind students—even immigrant students—that Peruvians, Jamaicans, Canadians, and Mexicans also live in America!) Martí was calling for an alliance among nations and a rejection of the provincialism of the village. Still, Martí’s America was also, arguably at least, a Latin America rather than a hemispheric America. Especially in the second half of his essay, Martí repeatedly distinguishes his America from North America (did it include Canada? Montreal? I don’t think so). He even clothes the Europeanized Latin Americans, whose politics and intellectual life he rejects, in “North American coats.” In “Nuestra América” Martí is urging his America to take proper note of the United States, the giant to the north, and to recognize the threat of its models, power, and practices.[5]

Latino history as U.S. history is not necessarily hemispheric history. It’s focused on mobile people as much as on a national space. Maybe that’s the source of the confusion for María Cristina’s student who otherwise seems to echo Oscar Handlin in reacting to her course. (“Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America,” wrote Handlin inThe Uprooted [1951]. “Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”) Like Martí, Handlin advocated a more people-centered understanding of nation-building. Perhaps he was thinking only of immigrants from Europe when he asserted their power to define American history. Still, the resonance between his agenda and that of “Latino history as United States history” should not be completely denied, I think.[6]

Handlin did not ultimately provide an analysis of nation building that made the United States part of the rest of the world or the rest of the world part of the United States. Those elements figure far more prominently in my teaching and scholarship and in the teaching and scholarship of many participating in this interchange. A focus on the mobilities of people, commodities, and ideas encourages use of a large spatial frame, including a hemispheric one. But there are many ways to extend the geography of our courses and research, and there are consequences of the choices we make—continental, hemispheric, oceanic, global—in doing so. On this point I think of the image with which Martí begins his complex essay. “Cree el aldeano vanidoso que el mundo entero es su aldea” wrote Martí—“the conceited villager believes the entire world to be his village.” Here Martí imagined a provincial who never looked beyond the border or, at best, a villager who looks beyond his borders able to see only his village replicated there. This sentiment echoes but also reverses the sense of a proverb in Italian that I have used repeatedly in my work on Italian migration around the world—“tutto il mondo e paese” (all the world is a single village)—which conjures up a global village where even a villager can make his way and feel at home.[7]

Extending the boundaries of U.S. history into the hemisphere carries with it its own dangers of provincialism. It is not the same agenda as extending the limits of the world or of the hemisphere to include the United States, and it is not likely to produce a history of the hemisphere with which colleagues in Latin American history will be comfortable. By focusing instead on mobile people, Latino history has the potential to upset what we think we know about both the United States and Latin America. It’s that focus on mobile people that I find most exciting about this interchange.

Adrian Burgos Jr.: I concur with Jesse’s point about those of us teaching U.S. Latino history courses being compelled to take seriously Vicki’s call for heeding Martí in thinking about U.S. history in a transhemispheric frame as a foundation for our teaching of Latino history. For example, in the “Caribbean Latino Migrations” course I teach, we start in colonial Puerto Rico under Spanish rule, and I use Eileen Suárez Findlay’s Imposing Decency to establish how ideas about family, gender, sexuality, and race were used to exert and/or establish power.[8] Equally important, this strategy decenters the United States as the source from which such ideas among Puerto Ricans originated (too often students feel that Latino migrants gain their racial understandings only after they arrive on the U.S. mainland).

Likewise, for my first book, Playing America’s Game, where I examined the racialization of Latinos, it was vitally important to follow the actors (ballplayers, managers, team executives, fans, and journalists) as they traveled throughout the Americas to truly capture the circulation, production, and manipulation of racial knowledge. The leagues in which these actors participated throughout the Americas—and regardless of where they were consigned according to the color line used in U.S. organized baseball—constituted a circuit in which we can best witness these actors at work. Confining one’s analysis to only what happened within the United States neglects how what happened outside the States was transported with the actors back to the States as well as opened opportunities at different locations on the circuit. That to me is the type of dynamic that Martí implored scholars to engage with seriously. In some cases, performance in the Cuban league or another Latin American professional league resulted in a player being offered a contract to play in the Negro leagues or in the major leagues. This also worked in the other direction. North American players gained positions in a Latin American league based on their performance in either the Negro leagues or the major leagues. Away from the baseball diamond, Latinos would at times try to manipulate the racial knowledge they acquired about how U.S. Americans differentiated between white, black, or others along the color line to gain advantage in social interactions. That meant, as I wrote in Playing America’s Game, at times emphasizing Spanish accents when ordering food in spots known to discriminate against African Americans but not always against those perceived as foreign. This was part of an arsenal of practices that Latinos developed. However, it was not just Cubans, Puerto Ricans, or Dominicans who acted in this manner. Black and white (U.S.) Americans also used the racial knowledge they acquired in moving about these circuits to affect how they or others were positioned racially, socially, or professionally. For example, in 1911 the Cincinnati Reds and local Cincinnati sportswriters defended the Reds’ signing of Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans, the first two Cubans to play in the majors in the twentieth century, by calling them “two of the purest bars of Castilian soap.” This attempt to alter racial understandings—stressing European ancestry versus the actual Cuban nativity of the two—arose from the interactions between white Americans who had traveled to Cuba to participate in or cover the Reds’ 1908 tour. Not only did members of the Reds entourage witness the two Cubans perform, they also learned the ways Cubans differentiated among themselves along the lines of ethnic origins within Spain—and Castilians were of a much higher racial stock than ordinary Cubans.[9]

Paul Spickard: I was struck, in reading María Cristina’s and Virginia’s accounting of the development of Latino historical studies, by parallel developments in Asian American studies. Whereas what is now sometimes called Latino studies began as a social movement that claimed a space in universities and brought into the academy the study of Chicanos or Puerto Ricans (depending on where one was in the country), Asian American studies began as a student movement that created a space initially for teaching and researching about Chinese, Japanese, and, to a lesser extent, Filipinos. We are now in our second or third wave of post-1965, post–Asian American movement students. Just as Latino studies has called on students and scholars from a wealth of Latin American backgrounds and has expanded the scope of its field’s narrative to include many Latin American peoples, so too has Asian American studies expanded to include the full range of people of the post-1965 immigrant wave—Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Indians, and others.

That broadening of scope has necessarily complicated the narrative in Asian American studies, not just because it brought in a lot of peoples who were not initially part of the field’s concern, but also because these other immigrants, and those who came to represent them in the academy, came to the field on very different class trajectories. I have heard veterans of the Asian American movement grouse at meetings about the privileged sons and daughters of Third World comprador capitalists who flew in from the Sorbonne on jumbo jets and took over Asian American studies. I am not sure this is true, but the scholars in the generation that was hired onto faculties in the 1990s and 2000s surely look very different, in ethnic origin and in class placement than their predecessors who are of my generation and Virginia’s. I wonder if the shape of Latino studies has similarly been made more complex by the addition of peoples from different immigrant streams than the original founders of the field, and how you all see the complications of different backgrounds in countries of origin and in the migration process, as well as different class trajectories.

In Asian American studies, and in a similar way in Latino studies, there has been a transformation in recent years from an out-of-Chinatown, U.S.-centered, assimilation-or-not narrative to one that focuses on diasporic spreadings and transnational linkages. That change helps us see migrations as well as family and community making much more clearly, but some scholars (for example, Sau-ling Wong at the University of California, Berkeley) argue that it also privileges middle- and upper-class people.[10]

We may teach the history of Latinos in the United States and frame it as a hemispheric history (Rudy Guevarra would extend the hemisphere to Hawaii), but if we are to take up Ruiz’s (and Martí’s) challenge, then how do we bring Latino history to the center of the American story?[11] What are the axes of interpretation on which we will build that understanding?

I wonder if two of the themes to such an effort might be colonialism (not just English and Spanish but USian, Mexican, Brazilian, etc., within their own national territories) and race making (which I take to be a colonial activity). I have been struck recently by the work of scholars such as Julia María Schiavone Camacho and Verónica Castillo-Muñoz on the complex racial identities that have been mediated back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border—with elements of ancestry that are Spanish and variously indigenous, as well as African, Chinese, and Filipino.[12]

Then there is the practical problem of how to convince our colleagues who are enraptured with other ways of framing American history—as the march of democracy, as an evolving contest of economic forces, etc.—to think about history in a hemispheric frame built around race, colonialism, migration, and other themes that make more sense to some of us.

George J. Sánchez: I would like us to discuss more directly the gap between Vicki’s transformative call for “Latino history as U.S. history” and what comes through in these initial comments about the reality of teaching today’s students in history and American studies departments where it is rare to have more than one or two historians familiar with Latino history and where most students come into our one or two classes dedicated to Latino history having gained almost no knowledge on the subject in high school or in the U.S. history survey. It seems to me that her call is aimed not only at Latino historians but at all historians for greater inclusion and diversity in the ranks. In California, where half of all high school students are Latino, the teaching corps is poorly prepared to teach inclusive history and the universities and the history departments have not made transforming the ranks of historians a high priority. Most are satisfied with one or two Latino scholars in each department of thirty or forty. How can this situation lead to “Latino history as U.S. history”?

Burgos: This is quite a rich conversation on the place of Latino history in the U.S. educational structure (K–12 and postsecondary) as well as on how we approach doing the work of Latino history as U.S. history. The comments of María Cristina and Virginia remind me of why I ventured into the field of U.S. Latino history. One reason was to better understand the lived experience and (transnational) perspective of many of the people I grew up around in south Florida who were American in the broad sense, Latino in their transnational activities, and Mexican, Puerto Rican, Colombian, and Cuban, among others, in terms of their nationality. Another reason was to contribute to the cultivation of a historical literature that illuminates the circuits of exchange and the mobility of individuals that resulted in the mixture I saw in my nephews and nieces who were not simply Boricua, NuyoRican, or Floridirican, but rather EcuaRican or Puertodorian, Cubanorican, etc. What dawned on me from an early age (and, given George’s comment, what must dawn on most Latinos going through the U.S. primary education system) is that we are presented to this nation as a people without a (long) history, that Latinos are always the recently arrived—a notion rooted in a historical framework that refuses to acknowledge the long history of mobility for people from the Spanish-speaking Americas and Latin America as a whole (thanks, Donna, for stressing this point).

Matthew Garcia: I had the fortune of being the co-chair of the program committee for the 2006 oah conference where Vicki Ruiz gave her presidential address. We talked about the conference theme and landed squarely on Martí’s concept of “Nuestra América/Our America” as a way to encourage participants to think beyond the borders and bodies of water that “contain” the nation-state—to expand the scope and geography covered by American historians. We also hoped to encourage participants to turn toward Martí’s consideration of how the “two Americas” related to one another and to consider the dialogue between “the two.”[13]

Martí famously contrasted “Nuestra América” (“Our America”) with the “Other America,” the United States, a country that he believed threatened Latin American independence movements as much as Spain. Interestingly, however, it did not start out this way for Martí in the United States. Upon his arrival in 1880, Martí wrote with admiration about U.S. ideals as he had understood them from afar:

I am, at last, in a country where everyone seems to be his own master . . . One can be proud of the species. Everyone works; everyone reads. . . . I am deeply obliged to this country where the friendless find always a friend and a kind hand is always found by those who look honestly for work. A good idea finds always here a suitable, soft, grateful ground. You must be intelligent, that is all. Give something useful. You will have all what you want. Doors are shut for those who are dull and lazy; life is sure to those who are faithful to the law of work.[14]

Over the next fourteen years in the United States, Martí had his Horatio Alger–esque opinion shaken by the conditions he witnessed among the poor and the working class, including a Latina/o diaspora struggling and surviving “inside the monster.” Martí’s organizing of Cuban and Puerto Rican dissidents in New York City and proletarian cigar workers in Key West, Tampa, Ocala, and Jacksonville, Florida, manifest the historic “circle of connections” (to quote the historian Louis Pérez) between Latin America and the United States and foreshadowed the development of large U.S. Latina/o communities already growing in the U.S. Southwest and that would take root in the East and Midwest during the century following the Spanish-American War. More importantly, Martí’s observation of worker discontent and exploitation in the United States impressed upon him the need and value of a class-based movement in the United States even as he focused on the creation of an anti-imperialist, Cuban nationalist movement for the liberation of his homeland. For Martí, these strategies were not mutually exclusive. They promised to serve the same purpose: to check U.S. imperialism in the hemisphere and allow for the economic and cultural autonomy of the peoples of the Americas, including those within the United States.[15]

I was pleased to find that many of the participants at the 2006 oah conference took up the challenge and that we had one of the strongest showings of Latino historians ever at the conference. We as Latino scholars talk a lot about the need to “internationalize” American history, and I believe evoking the historical example of Martí gave us a useful idea around which to organize our thoughts. I would be remiss, however, in not acknowledging Nancy Mirabal’s wise observations that such evocations run the risk of mythologizing and exulting an individual—in this case, José Martí.[16]

That conference also involved the National Council for Public History, providing a wonderful opportunity to share this expansive perspective on American history with K–12 educators, who are far more likely to attend this national convention than others at which we gather. Ruiz’s eloquent, fun, and challenging address at this meeting with so many educators—academics, K–12 teachers, museum professionals, etc.—was an important opportunity to open up a discussion about the place of Latino history in U.S. history that goes beyond the conversations among specialists in the profession.

María Cristina García: As excited as I am about the growth of Latino studies over the past twenty years, I agree with Vicki that we need a “fuller recounting of Latino history.”[17] As Adrian pointed out it is easy to forget that the Latino presence goes back centuries because a disproportionate amount of media and scholarly attention is focused on the first generation immigrants who make up half the Latino population. The social scientific literature on Latinos far exceeds the scholarship on them in history and the arts, in part because Latinos are cast as social problems. Most of my undergraduate students who have gone on to pursue graduate work in Latino studies have chosen sociology, demography, or political science—not history—because they want to influence policy. These are noble goals, of course, but where are the historians? How do you shape policy—domestic or international—without an awareness of history, culture, and language? In part, these choices mirror larger trends in the university.

As for a more transhemispheric understanding of history, I would love to see the creation of programs/centers that focus on the Americas as a whole, rather than carve up the hemisphere into Latin American studies and American studies as we currently do. Latino studies is usually subsumed into one or the other of these area studies, but Latinos overlap these geographic and intellectual spaces. Our histories are interwoven. The United States is now the fifth-largest Spanish-speaking country; in Latin America, English is the second language of instruction (even in Cuba, which has not had full diplomatic relations with the United States for over fifty years). Doesn’t it make more sense to have an “Americas program”?

Gabaccia: Since it’s my interest in mobility and in the long-term perspectives of world or global history that gives me entrance into this discussion, I wanted also to share a few thoughts about how Latinos and Latin America figure in a course that focuses on the world rather than on a hemisphere. One big difference is that a focus on the early modern Atlantic (and to lesser extent Pacific) allows for discussions of the entire American hemisphere, albeit as a hemisphere connected to Asia and to Africa and Europe across two oceans. This brings North American and Caribbean and/or Latin American histories into a new juxtaposition, and it’s a juxtaposition that really unsettles students’ understanding of colonization, settlement, slavery, and European relations to natives, which are topics typically viewed through U.S. history. Suddenly, some of the migrants, colonizers, and slave owners speak Spanish and Portuguese as well as French and English, and of course, the role of Catholicism and Protestantism in histories of slave plantation systems and governance also falls quickly into focus. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to the varied ways that racial, ethnic, and national categories were created in Spanish, Portuguese, British, and French imperial contexts and to ponder how the United States and other “neo Europes” borrowed from imperial precedent in defining their newly independent nations in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. And, of course, it always opens a discussion of the categories of our own times, including the category of Latino.

In our discussions of the nineteenth century, too, the formation of nations, especially in South America, necessarily reveals movements into Argentina and Brazil and Peru, allowing for comparisons to the Atlantic and Pacific migrations into North America. It’s fascinating to see students grapple with the different ways that intermarriage, “amalgamation,” assimilation, and race were understood during these massive migrations. At that point in the semester most students begin to relinquish their firmly held view of the United States as a distinctive nation of immigrants.

I have also set them up thereby for the final segment of the class, which asks them to ponder how the oceanic east/west/east migrations of the Atlantic and Pacific worlds of the nineteenth century gave way to the movements from global south to global north, which is the movement that most associate with Latinos and with Latin America in their own worlds. Comparing guest worker programs in North America and in Europe in the twentieth century (and then ending the class with a focus on comparable programs in the oil-rich economies of the Middle East) puts Mexican migrations to the United States into a strange and different context for most students, and the results—at least as exhibited in classroom discussions—can be quite exciting.

Hoffnung-Garskof: I come to the discussion as someone who teaches Latina/o history, but not really U.S. history. All of my other classes, and my primary engagement with Martí, derive from my training as a specialist on Latin America and the Caribbean. My major interest has been less to make the history of Latinos the center of U.S. history than to make it a primary axis of Latin American and Caribbean history (and not just by adding one lecture in the final week).

I teach the Latinos course mostly from primary documents, and as a consistent theme throughout the course I pair readings that reveal ways that people in different parts of the Americas regarded each other. Often I start with a discussion of Sir Francis Drake, the English pirate who attacked Spanish Santo Domingo and Cartagena in the sixteenth century. English histories and poetry celebrated Drake’s incursions against a tyrannical Roman Catholic enemy, for the glory of England and Protestantism. These tales of glory were especially useful to Oliver Cromwell in his own plan (toward the middle of the seventeenth century) to take possession of Spanish America. Cromwell also sponsored English publications of The Devastation of the Indies, a critical account (originally published in 1552) of the early Spanish conquest written by the Dominican friar and conquistador Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas proved useful in Cromwell’s efforts to spread a negative view of Spanish colonizers. This view, known as the Black Legend, portrayed Spaniards as bloody, gold hungry papists who were averse to work, and it was, in turn, useful to promoting a notion of British colonialism as comparatively enlightened and humane. Of course, the Spanish produced their own image of the English as piratical and guilty of Protestant heresies. A classic text in this vein is the 1597 play by Lope de Vega, La Dragontea, which recounts the valiant efforts of Spanish heroes to rebuff the attacks of the terrible Drake. Spanish perceptions of Protestant competitors is also clearly visible in the writings of early eighteenth-century Franciscans sent to the northern frontier of New Spain to prevent incursions from the barbaric Protestants.[18]

I try to get the students to think about what these ideas about the other reveal about how the authors conceived of themselves. I also try to get them thinking about how these ideas give birth to our present-day ideas about what is Latin and what is Anglo, both in terms of the division of the hemisphere geographically and in terms of ethnoracial concepts within the United States. Martí’s “Nuestra América,” paired with Theodore Roosevelt’s fascinating and horrifying essay “The Spread of the English Speaking Peoples” provides a window into the imagining of two Americas in the particular moment of the 1890s. I also ask students to read selections from Ariel (1900), by the Uruguayan politician and essayist José Enrique Rodó. By including Rodó I am challenging the students not to accept the allure of Latinidad (or Nuestra América) as simply a heroic response to Anglo-American empire and racism. It was that, but it was also a discourse that, in a complicated triangulation, helped a generation of Latin Americans think through their troubled relationship with Latin American popular sectors (including many of the same groups whom Roosevelt excluded from, or hoped to fold invisibly into, Anglo-American identity: immigrants, indigenous and mestizo peoples, and people of African descent). Many of the key tropes of Latinidad as distinct from Anglo-Saxon society—culture, community, hierarchy, and spirituality in contrast to materialism, social leveling, and individualism—originate in this period. Although they became powerful resources for both anti-imperialist and Latino movements, these concepts of Latin difference tended problematically to conceive of a uniform, well-ordered, patriarchal, Latin identity that bore little resemblance to the societies they described.[19]

Martí was part of that generation, but also different from it in crucial ways. He was the leader of a social movement that included both professionals and merchants and cigar workers (many of whom were black or brown), so his formulations of national and regional unity (against both Spain and the United States) resembled the thinking of other Latin American intellectuals in their emphasis on homogeneity and social peace among Cubans, Antilleans, or Latins. Those formulations were thus comforting to his wealthier and whiter allies and helped neutralize Spanish accusations that he was unleashing a race war. But Martí was also unique among nationalists of his time in his willingness to include a defense of black humanity and equality as a centerpiece of the idea of racial harmony. That is, he incorporated the arguments that black and brown intellectuals in Cuba and Puerto Rico (some of them his close friends) had been making for decades. To talk about this, I assign Martí’s 1893 essay “Mi raza,” which I find more interesting than “Nuestra América.” In it he spells out his evolving notion of race and national identity in ways that reveal to students the tenuous alliances and real tensions that lay within it. I try to get students thinking about the particular experiences of coalition building among Cuban and Puerto Ricans in the diaspora in the 1890s, about comparative racial formations, and about the potential that Martí’s formulations could have to restrict open discussions of racial or class oppression and difference, as well as its potential (recognized and celebrated by Martí’s black and brown contemporaries) to help transform Cuban society according to notions of racial and class justice.[20]

JAH: There seems to be a consensus among you about the need to situate narratives (i.e., Latina and Latino, Asian American, immigration histories) within transhemispheric or transnational frameworks. You all have been engaged in this endeavor for years now. So, in many ways, it would seem that Vicki’s presidential address served as much to publicize a trend as it did to challenge all U.S. historians to question conventional narratives and chronologies. There seems to be general agreement among you that “Latino history is U.S. history” (and, as María Cristina adds, it is also Latin American history).

We’d like you to explore that challenge a bit more. That is, as Paul put it, “If we are to take up Ruiz’s (and Martí’s) challenge, then how do we bring Latino history to the center of American history? What are the axes of interpretation on which we will build that understanding?” What kinds of changes need to be introduced to textbook narratives, to U.S. history survey courses, to school standards, to university curricula?

We are also struck by the fact you all seem to allude to particular structures (state history standards, the academy, area studies, disciplinary orientations and boundaries) that institutionalize or order historical narratives or privilege some historical subjects over others. Might you all elaborate a bit more on those structures and how they have impacted your research and teaching?

Gabaccia: Quite a few years ago, in the JAH special issue on transnational history I wrote somewhat autobiographically about the ways that nation-based job descriptions (U.S. history; European history; Latin America) “discipline” researchers who study mobile people. Already when I did my dissertation in the 1970s I had learned (from doing research in local Sicilian archives) that the people who left Sambuca di Sicilia had traveled to Canada, Germany, and Argentina, as well as to the United States. Having done research on two continents and having written about the migratory linkages between the Sicilian towns and U.S. destinations, I was quite aware that my professional identity had become blurred: was I an Americanist or a Europeanist? This was a question I was asked regularly. I didn’t have tenure in the 1980s, making me extremely reluctant to take on what seemed like the next great intellectual challenge for me (of tracing migrations of Sicilians “everywhere”—and especially to South America). Fortunately, I did get tenure and benefitted from the transnational theoretical “turn,” the fascination with globalization, and the growing popularity of undergraduate courses in world history. Those trends provided me with a way of transforming what had seemed a professional disadvantage into a firm foundation for the international collaborative project (“Italians Everywhere”) that I undertook with Fraser Ottanelli, Franca Iacovetta, and others in the 1990s. Since 33 percent of Italy’s migrants traveled to North America, 25 percent to South America, and almost half to other European countries or around the littorals of the Mediterranean (and one could find many comparable cases, for example, among the Chinese, South Asians, Irish, etc.) a global history that made migration and diasporas a central theme seemed the most accommodating framework for my teaching, research, and professional engagement. I am sure that the power of national historiographies, nation-based curricula, and even the tendency of area studies to fix a boundary that separates North and South America complicate the task of those who would understand the centrality of movement in the lives of the Spanish-speaking peoples of the Americas.

I think I understand how a focus on Latinos might work in the study of U.S. history but I’m especially curious to hear what others think about how that focus changes the teaching of Latin American history. How common is it, for example, for an individual to teach both U.S. and Latin American history? At the small college where I once taught without tenure, breadth was generally appreciated but I was, I think, nevertheless the only member of my department who taught two world regions. I suspect that has changed in the past decade.[21]

Matthew Garcia: It has been my experience as a member of various history departments throughout my career that “American” history is usually the only area of history organized by nation-state, while the others are geographically or linguistically marked. In other words, European, Asian, and especially African history are organized according to continent; Latin America is organized by a common link to “Latin”-based languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French) even though this does not capture the diversity of peoples, languages, and cultures in “Latin America”; and “America” is really U.S. history. In one of these departments I challenged my colleagues to organize “American” history not by nation-state but rather by geography like all other areas. I asked, “why not North American history?” This approach would encompass the transnational flows of goods, labor, and culture among Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and for Latino historians, it would offer a more inclusive conception of what we now call “American history.” Such a configuration would fit well with Américo Paredes’s “Greater Mexico concept,” Gloria Anzaldúa’s “La Frontera,” or even Martí’s interesting idea that “Nuestra América” does overlap with the “the other America,” the one that most historians mean when they refer to “American history.” Most of my colleagues could not get their heads around the idea, and it was received as if I was destroying U.S. history. In short, it made me question whether perhaps I had lost all perspective or even lost my mind for suggesting it.[22] At least three experiences over my career have reassured me of my sanity. First, in the late 1990s I had the privilege of attending a Latino studies conference in Gronigen, Holland. The organizers included scholars working on Quebec, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and on French-, Portuguese-, and Spanish-speaking peoples in the United States, often on integrated panels. This was an expansive, inclusive, and because of language differences, sometimes challenging conference that worked quite well. Dutch and other European scholars who attended fully embraced this expansive conception of Latino studies. Although a distinct minority in their institutions, many had been teaching Latino history, literature, and other subjects under this broad definition of the topic and expressed disbelief that we—as U.S. Latino scholars—had to fit our work within rubrics that often split our affiliations; i.e., I am a member of programs in history (United States), ethnic studies (Latino studies), and Latin American studies. This, of course, increases my/our work load. The second experience was the execution of the Bracero History Archive Project. Our team of graduate and undergraduate researchers worked with a team at the University of Texas, El Paso’s Institute of Oral History, and the Smithsonian Institution to collect over seven hundred interviews throughout the United States and Mexico. In the early stages of the project, our partners at the National Museum of American History wondered if we could execute a transnational project. To their credit, over time they fully embraced it and, though we began with interviews on the U.S. side, our subjects—the braceros and their families—forced us to go transnational. This happened in El Paso when, during a collection of oral histories, several people came over the border to tell their stories. We eventually began traveling to them. The same phenomenon occurred in Heber, California, in the Imperial Valley. We worked with the international bracero justice organization, Bracero Pro-A, which worked with its Mexicali chapter and chartered a bus from Mexicali to Heber for the interviews. We were overwhelmed. We also sent researchers into Mexico to collect oral histories from most of the states in Mexico that sent guest workers. The project’s exhibit and Web site are bilingual and are being used on both sides of the border by scholars and writers who are in the process of rewriting “American” (Mexico and U.S.) labor history with this oral history archive. Finally, my discovery of the new School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University reassured me that there are colleagues, and now universities, that are challenging nation-bound conceptions of the United States and Eurocentricity in an institutional context. In all these examples a healthy interdisciplinarity is being practiced, which might suggest that the problem exists within the discipline of history, and more specifically, with U.S. historians. Is the field of U.S. history simply too conservative to let go of nation-bound conceptions of “American history” and embrace transnationality in North America?[23]

Sánchez Korrol: Many of the intellectual experiences that hone our concepts of Latino history as transnational and hemispheric have come about precisely because researching and teaching Latino history privileges an interdisciplinary, unbounded perspective. That kind of conceptual thinking does not easily fit into the majority of prevailing academic structures in U.S. institutions. As a result, Latino scholars tend to gravitate toward academic units or intellectual opportunities that promote expanding physical and mental boundaries and reward interdisciplinary approaches in tenure evaluations. Latino studies specialists in European or Latin American institutions tend to have even less institutional flexibility and also seek intellectual venues outside of their university systems. Hence one of the venues for Latino studies interchange and scholarly production has been the series of Latino studies conferences held in Europe or Latin America over the past two decades.

But in my experience the challenges are astronomical and the successes few and far between. From 1985 to 1990 I was part of an international team of scholars involved in a project to create a Latino studies curriculum for the New York State Department of Education. Entitled “The Ibero-American Heritage Curriculum: Latinos in the Making of the United States of America: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” the kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum promoted an interpretation of Latino society as racially and ethnically diverse, multicultural, multilingual, and mobile; it employed a historical time frame that began in the precontact period, evolved into the present day, and underscored the longevity of the Latino experience as well as the integrative processes and transnational nature of more recent immigrants. The curriculum spanned a hemispheric and international geographic setting, acknowledging political transformations over time and space by focusing on “Latinos in what is today the United States.”[24]

The project yielded original research, essays by leading specialists in American, Latin American, Portuguese, Spanish and Latino history, student activities from K–12, and an unprecedented collection of resources. To my knowledge the curriculum was never mandated in the schools of New York. City teachers did not seem to know about it, and there was limited space in the social studies framework for its use. While excerpts of the material may be accessed online, hundreds of copies of this extensive work may be lying in some state warehouse while we continue to negotiate centering Latino history as U.S. history.

Another project in which I participate, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, has been more successful, particularly in the incorporation of its publications in university course work. Since the Arte Público Press, University of Houston–based project began in 1990 its goal has been to recover Spanish literary texts or English-language texts written by Latinos, primary source documents, and newspapers from the earliest voyages of exploration of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca to the 1960s. Because of its unique focus, the project’s conception of the United States is particularly inclusive. The project has recovered a treasure trove of novels, poetry, chronicles, memoirs, and essays, translated them into English, and published them (sometimes in bilingual editions) with critical scholarly essays. The novels of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, for example, so valuable to understanding the plight of the Californios in the aftermath of the U.S.-Mexican War, gained currency because of their recovery through this project. So has Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s The Rebel, an autobiography that takes into account the Mexican and Mexican American experiences on both sides of the border and documents the experiences of the founder of the Cruz Blanca (the white cross, an organization similar to the Red Cross) during the Mexican Revolution.[25]

Perhaps as Latino scholars our responsibility is not only to offer cutting-edge research or the resources that enable a centering of Latino history but also to provide the tools, rationale, syllabi, and best practices to enable others to do that job as well.

María Cristina García: We are faced with two challenges as scholars of U.S. history: first, teaching U.S. history as inclusively as possible to reflect multiple experiences and perspectives; and second, examining U.S. history as part of a network of international relationships. While these may seem divergent goals, many of our colleagues have found very creative ways to introduce students to the various ways of understanding U.S. history and of examining the local, national, and the international. One may not be able to cover everything in one survey, but one can introduce students to narrative and interpretive possibilities.

I would like to address the role of graduate education and the impact it could have on textbook narratives, survey courses, and school curricula. I think we fail our graduate students in U.S. history—and, ultimately, those they will educate over the next generation—if we don’t ask them to read beyond their own area of expertise. Graduate students will always be specialists because that is how the dissertation is structured, and the job market rewards specialization; but it is their intellectual breadth (or lack thereof) that will most affect their teaching.

When graduate students find their first job it is very likely that they will be asked to teach at least one section of the U.S. history survey. Indeed, I know historians of Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia who also teach at least one section of U.S. history because some states require all their undergraduates to take a certain number of U.S. history courses to graduate. Faced with these curricular expectations and heavy teaching loads (not to mention the challenges of facing a classroom of students who dislike history) is it any wonder that our junior colleagues fall back on the syllabi they saved from past courses? It’s easier to replicate what they learned and how they learned it (or hastily structure the course around a textbook). One way to get our students thinking about what—and how—they want to teach is to require them to work on course syllabi early in their graduate studies. Have them write a prospectus for a particular course, “defend” their syllabi (in much the same way that they will defend their dissertations), and receive input from scholars in the department. It’s a rewarding exercise for everyone involved.

I remember one syllabus that was particularly inspiring and that I thought exemplified the history that Paul spoke about, that brought race and ethnic history to the center of American history. The graduate student took as inspiration for his proposed history survey Gary Okihiro’s book Margins and Mainstreams (1994). In the preface to his collection of essays, Okihiro wrote: “the core values and ideals of the nation emanate not from the mainstream but from the margins—from among Asian and African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, women, and gays and lesbians. In their struggles for equality, these groups have helped preserve and advance the principles and ideals of democracy and have thereby made America a freer place for all.” The student organized the survey’s lectures and readings around struggles for equality, from the early republican period to the present, that he thought helped define American democracy. The proposed syllabus sparked a lively debate among the committee members. I remember thinking that I would have loved to have taken this course as an undergraduate student.[26]

I’d like to briefly address Donna’s question about the teaching of Latin American history. Universities often locate Latino studies within Latin American studies departments and programs, and therefore, it’s not uncommon to find historians who were trained in U.S. history teaching Latin American history. For many of them, migration becomes one of the key themes in understanding the history of a particular country (or the region in general). Historians, sociologists, and anthropologists have demonstrated how “Latino” exiles planned revolutionary movements from abroad; created “ethnic” lobbies that affected electoral outcomes in their countries of origin; changed gender and family relationships, and hierarchies of power, through their remittances; and adapted cultural forms through transnational contact, etc. Jesse’s book, A Tale of Two Cities, is a terrific example of the intersections of U.S. and Latin American history (in this case, the Domincan Republic), with Dominican (im)migrants as the unifying thread. When I teach my course on U.S.-Cuba relations, Cuban exiles and immigrants are a necessary focus of that history, from the nineteenth-century independence leader Félix Varela to José Martí and the Cuban Revolutionary party, to the Bay of Pigs invasion. You can’t understand Cuban history without examining the roles played by exiles and immigrants.[27]

Hernández: Thanks to María Cristina for clearly stating what I also see as the two major teaching challenges—taking a substantively inclusive approach to U.S. history and incorporating transnational frameworks—and I have appreciated learning more about the participants’ approaches to these challenges. In my own teaching I have found that it is often by moving beyond “Latina/o” as an identity or even the Americas as a region and focusing instead on protean themes and concepts such as mobility, citizenship, race, and borders/borderlands that I am best able to bring Latino history to the center of U.S. history and to highlight the value of looking beyond the nation-state to understand historical developments.

I would also like to address funding structures. In terms of transforming Latino and U.S. history, I am watching some of my best graduate students working their way toward a Latino/a history framework as opposed to beginning, for example, with a community study focused on Latinos. From when and where they enter, they are finding provocative new ways to understand U.S. history as Latino history. Yet one struggle I have encountered is the matter of dissertation funding. For example, my graduate students working on race, crime, and punishment are doing what I believe to be some of the most dynamic and meaningful research on a topic of crucial importance to the contemporary Latino community, and their work will broaden our understanding of what counts as Latino history and, thereby, what counts as U.S. history. They often struggle to find funding, however, because their projects are not only interdisciplinary but also intersectional while our institutional funding streams for the study of race are divided among various ethnic studies centers. It takes a particularly adept graduate student to craft funding proposals without being disciplined into their intellectual frameworks.

Sánchez Korrol: Teaching U.S. history as inclusively as possible to reflect multiple experiences and perspectives and viewing U.S. history as part of a network of international relations are clearly challenges that we should strive to meet, particularly when a required survey course, often one semester, may be the only history course an undergraduate student will ever take. But I wonder if we are not addressing two different approaches toward centering Latino history. A thematically organized course in U.S. history that takes the Latino experience into consideration, as well as the diverse experiences of all other Americans, is not quite the same as teaching a course on Cubans in the United States that addresses U.S. cultural, political, and economic themes from the Cuban perspective. It is understood that both courses might incorporate race, gender, migration, country-of- origin experience, labor force participation, remittances, and U.S.-Cuban relationships as analytical categories. My question is, would a course on Cubans in the United States meet general education requirements as a U.S. history course? And does a U.S. history course that incorporates the Latino experience when thematically appropriate actually center Latino history?

Spickard: I much appreciate María Cristina and Kelly’s focus on graduate education as a key point for intervention. I have done something several times like what María Cristina suggests—in my case, for a world history graduate seminar: I have students design a syllabus and defend it in a ten-to-fifteen-page paper. I have found that (a) students loved the exercise, (b) they thought it very helpful as they entered the job market, and (c) it succeeded in forcing nearly all of them to think outside the pathways in which they had been taught. They have come up with a couple of dozen different courses, each of which is animated by the passions of the student in question and none of which looks like a standard undergraduate survey. Were we to challenge our graduate students to design and defend intersectional, hemispheric history courses, I bet that they would create courses we would love to see in the curriculum. Like María Cristina, if I were to design such a course, I might choose human migration as an integrating theme, or perhaps some of the other themes that Kelly suggests.

If we want to bring Latino and hemispheric perspectives into the study of U.S. history with any impact, we will also need to reach the textbook market. Currently, all U.S. history textbooks look very much alike. Even though much of the content has broadened over the last couple of generations, the texts still have pretty much the same chapter headings as U.S. history textbooks did in 1950. Can we imagine a textbook for the history of North America or of the Americas? What would it look like? What would be the themes? The chapter divisions? That would take powerful reimagining, but it would be worth the effort.

Gabaccia: I’ve found that graduate-level seminars on world and/or global history can be quite effective in helping students, regardless of regional or national expertise and training, to think beyond the curricular “boxes” in which their individual research interests are contained. I regularly teach a seminar called “Comparing Global Migrations,” which sometimes draws students more widely across disciplines and departments than it does across regional or area studies. In the past it had been mainly students focusing on the (North) Atlantic, broadly understood, who enrolled in the class, but this year I have an Africanist and at least one Asianist; so I’m hoping this now-outdated association between migration and a single relatively narrow space (North America) is finally beginning to break down, even here at the University of Minnesota, where migration studies has, until the past decade or so, focused on immigration (and especially European immigration) to the United States. I began teaching the course five years ago and am now seeing the results of such training in student dissertations, including one in sociology and one in American studies that fit beautifully within the paradigms of Latino studies as U.S. history that are under discussion in this interchange.

Minnesota requires a comparative field of all graduate students and four graduate courses outside the history department. This means that roughly comparable postnational and/or transnational intellectual currents in American studies and several of the social sciences that are deeply involved in training students in migration studies also seem to be pushing graduate training in the directions we’ve discussed. This is true, furthermore, not just for graduate students in Latino studies but those in other area studies as well.

Spickard: Can you tell us about the history textbook you are working on María? Have you been framing it much after the fashion of other textbooks, but with significantly larger portions of Latino history as a minor theme? Or have you been able to reconceptualize U.S. history in the way we have been talking about in this interchange? That would be a monumental task, but it strikes me as the kind of rethinking and course rebuilding we need to do if we are to achieve the goal we are discussing. A few years ago when Oxford University Press asked me to write a new history of immigration in the United States, they strongly pushed me to write essentially the same old story but updated for the 1990s and 2000s. I ended up recasting the frame of the story, which took me to Routledge and a book that came to be Almost All Aliens.[28] But even as much as I framed the story very differently than earlier books, I did not take on a continental, much less an intercontinental American frame. I’m hoping we can begin to conceptualize how to do that.

Hernández: I think Virginia raises critical questions regarding Latino history as U.S. history, and they force a more direct discussion of the project of centering Latino history. General education requirements will, of course, vary across institutions. At my home institution a Chicana/o history course, for example, would meet the history department’s criteria for a U.S. history class, but it might most often be offered through the Chicano studies department and then cross-listed as a history course. This circumstance, I think, points to George’s earlier comment about hiring patterns in traditional departments and Virginia’s comments on interdisciplinarity and Latino history—those who are equipped to teach Latino history are often not in history departments. But, as the experiences of Paul, Virginia, George, and María Cristina suggest, institutions of higher education are only one site for the centering of Latino history; the question of Latino history as U.S. history unfolds against popular notions about Latino/a history as a subset of U.S. history. I’ve never written a textbook but—strangely enough—this discussion reminds me of an undergraduate quiz bowl I was judging where the following question was asked: “Name the first African American Congresswoman.” There was an awkward silence, and then one of the students responded, “How would I know? I am not black.” This certainly spoke volumes about popular notions of what counts as general, i.e., centered, knowledge regarding U.S. history. That student had found a race escape to the history of Congress—a political entity I think many students would regard as “central” in U.S. history—and thereby felt exempt from needing to know anything about Shirley Chisholm, which, I would argue, effectively barred him from learning very much about Congress. This type of decentering happens every day and in many ways. Despite well over a century of scholarship focused on centering the margins—and with at least the last one and a half generations of this scholarship institutionalized at many colleges and universities—there remains a disconnect between what we are teaching in our classrooms and what is available on the History Channel, in textbooks, and at most museums.

I would argue that diversity and, more important, intersectionality in themes, processes, events, and identities—as well as global and hemispheric approaches such as those taken in the courses Donna has outlined—are as crucial to the centering process as is an explicit focus on Latinos. We need multiple vectors of analysis and frameworks to center Latino history as U.S. history rather than simply within U.S. history. Further, as many of the participants have indicated, we need multiple modes of distribution to bridge the gap between our classrooms and public narratives. Many of us and others are already engaged in this work.

I am also seeing another process of centering unfolding, at least at the University of California, Los Angeles (ucla). I am encouraged by the diversity of students in the Chicano studies major at ucla. The many Chicana/o and Latina/o students in the major are increasingly being joined by many other “others,” whose investments in the study of Chicano/Latino history is a ground-level process that both reflects and furthers the work we are doing in the classroom by making clear that the social importance and educational value of Latino/Chicano studies is not bound to embodied identities. Unlike the young man at the quiz bowl, these students have focused their educations on Chicano/Latino studies and centered their intellectual development on the Chicano/Latino experience as broadly meaningful and instructive. I regard their work as part of the process of blurring the boundaries between Latino history and U.S. history.

María Cristina García: I think Kelly raises a very important point about what is considered “general knowledge.” I see signs of change but also retrenchment. A third or more of the students who take my courses in Latino history are not of Latino ancestry; we also have more and more non-Latino students minoring in Latino studies (we don’t have a major). They choose our courses because on some level they realize it will serve them personally and professionally to know something about the people who will be their employers and employees, their colleagues and staff, their neighbors, family, and friends. They experience what it means to be a minority—if only for three hours each week—because they know there is something to be gained from the experience. The discourse that Latino studies is only for Latinos—that it is a political project rather than an intellectual one—has been challenged. This wasn’t true fifteen years ago. It helps that non-Latino scholars are writing some excellent studies of Latino history—and whether we like it or not, this conveys openness and gives the field a certain legitimacy. But as Kelly points out, we still have much work to do. Not too long ago, one of my former undergraduate advisees (who is not Latino) wrote to tell me that he had given up on his dream of studying Latino history at the graduate level because the professors in his graduate program insisted that he major in Latin American history instead. They told him that an “Anglo” would never find a job teaching Latino history, so he left graduate school and is now doing advocacy work. His advisers thought they were acting in his best interest, and perhaps they were. We know that many colleges and universities demonstrate their “commitment to diversity” by hiring a member of an underrepresented minority to teach underrepresented history. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

But I will know things have really changed for the better when students such as this advisee can study what they want; when an institutional “commitment to diversity” means more than it does now; when being “inclusive” means more than dedicating half a class to Latino/African American/Asian American history in the general survey. Maybe by the time my nieces reach high school the sat/act will have a question or two on Latino history; but since Latinos are only mentioned once in their social studies book (the Alamo, what else?), I’m losing hope on that score.

Burgos: Thanks to María and Donna for sharing their teaching experience and insights about graduate education. It is important to demonstrate how studying Latinos is not only a means of recentering them within U.S. history but it can also be quite productive for graduate students, who can learn new approaches to studying whatever they examine in their dissertations. I am often disappointed, however, at how often graduate students (continue to) see studying Latinos as not germane to their intellectual interests or as offering them little as they pursue their study of American history. And this happens with many graduate students who would not offer the same level of resistance to taking a course in African American history. The point here is not that students should take Latino history over African American history, but rather to note that even as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, Latino history as central to the understanding of U.S. history narrowly understood or American history broadly construed remains alien to too many graduate students in U.S. history. How are undergraduate courses dealing with the addition of Latinos to the syllabi (and the American tale)? And will that addition substantively alter the understanding of this history for the next generation of scholars who enter graduate school? Will they approach the learning, teaching, and research exploration of American history in a more complex and comprehensive manner?

Sánchez: I want to return to the discussion of “axes of interpretation” and say how important it has been in my teaching of Latino history and general U.S. history to spend significant time with both undergraduates and graduate students reinterpreting eighteenth- and nineteenth-century U.S. history. As a twentieth-century historian, I did not usually recognize this early in my career, but clearly, the fact that from one-third to one-half of what we now consider the United States was once part of New Spain is critical in any intervention in “transnational history.” This history of conquest, manifest destiny, and imperialism is often ignored in general U.S. history surveys, but it could help students reorient themselves away from a historical narrative that always begins in England, makes its way to Plymouth Rock, and then unfolds westward from there.

The first book that taught me the importance of this reorientation was Ramón Gutiérrez’s When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away.[29] I began to use that book to start my Latino history course and my general U.S. history classes. It forced all of us to confront the erasure of Spain, Mexico, and indigenous people from our stories of beginnings and to acknowledge that Latinos were subsequently put into focus only as twentieth-century immigrants. How do we teach the history of New Mexico or the United States, for example, when some families there have never left the region and predate almost 99 percent of other families in the land that is now the United States? When Santa Fe is an older European settlement than Jamestown?

Teaching from this perspective is critical when one is teaching in the current U.S. Southwest (and I would imagine in Puerto Rico or Florida). It allows history to unfold across nation-states without physical migration. It forces students to confront what is native and what is “new” about any part of the United States. And it certainly forces us to rethink the idea that the history of Latinos always begins with the history of immigration from Latin America across a border to the north.

One additional word on public history: I will never forget when I got a call from folks working with Ken Burns on his monumental “history of the American West.” Over and over I argued that you cannot do justice to the history of this region by focusing only on the period after 1848. How can you discuss settlements, villages, towns, and families only by picking up the story when the United States arrives and calling that “comprehensive history”? They would have none of that in their monumental public history extravaganza. It challenged too many deeply held notions about what U.S. history was and how it should be told. East comes west, and any challenge to that telling shakes the foundation of too many in the United States. Not surprisingly, I was never called again by these producers.[30]

María E. Montoya: Like Donna, I do not teach Latina/o history, although it was a steady part of my teaching portfolio at the University of Michigan. And, probably, like many of you (at least the older ones) I was not trained as a Chicana/o or Latina/o historian because there just were no mentors at my school. My cohort learned by cobbling together small seminars and agreeing to a list of books that included ones by Rodolfo Acuña, María Cristina García, Virginia Sánchez Korrol, and Vicki Ruiz. Often we were guided by professors who were sympathetic but learning along with us.[31]

For most of my career I have taught the U.S. history survey as well as surveys in the history of the American West. So, as George suggests, I come to this interchange from another direction: How does Latina/o history help us tell a richer (and more accurate) story about the founding, making, and telling of U.S. history? I am currently co-writing a U.S. history textbook for Houghton Mifflin (now Cengage Learning). In writing this textbook, our goal has been to rethink the way we tell the story of the United States. One major goal has been to move away from framing the United States as exceptional and toward employing a model that looks at the place of the United States in a global and hemispheric context. We have also sought to tell a multiregional and multiperspective story. For us, colonial history begins in Santa Fe, not Jamestown, and that story comes after a chapter devoted entirely to Native America, without a trace of Europeans to be found. For us, this seems to reflect the more complex and realistic picture we have as scholars when we think about and teach U.S. history. But, as George notes, challenging these sacred timelines of American history is a difficult and tricky business. My sense, however, is that it is not the students who are unwilling to be challenged and to think about different interpretations, but institutions and scholars who have so much invested in these myths and stories about how we tell our national history.

It seems to me that thinking about the Latina/o experience in all its diversity and complexity is the perfect vehicle for repositioning our ideas about U.S. history. This is not an “add on” in American history, but a complete refocus that puts these regional histories on par with others (West versus East, in particular) and recognizes that the term “Americans” applies to all people who inhabit and migrate to, around, and from this space.

Spickard: Hallelujah! María, I sincerely hope that you and your colleagues succeed in pulling off your plan for this textbook. This is precisely the sort of reorienting of U.S. history that we need. I think you are right to believe that if there is resistance it will come from faculty who are deeply invested in the ways they have learned and taught U.S. history for their entire careers. When I tried to do a similar refocusing of U.S. immigration history in Almost All Aliens, I found that students and younger faculty (under forty-five or fifty) welcomed the reframing. They understood it intuitively, and it helped them see things they had sensed at some level but not yet grasped clearly. But most older folks, especially specialists in the immigration of European groups, just couldn’t see beyond Ellis Island to the imperial and race-making dimensions of the story. I am very excited about your project and look forward to seeing the textbook.

Sánchez Korrol: María, despite the lack of mentors, I think that somewhere along the way our cohort experience prepared us to think inclusively, to respect and legitimize different perspectives, and to work collaboratively. Because we often moved from the margins into what has been considered U.S. history, we understood that Latino history is complicated and could not merely be addressed through an “add and stir” process. I am delighted to hear you are taking such a comprehensive and realistic approach in your textbook.

Sadly, Paul’s experience is all too common. While today’s college students live and learn in an increasingly changing and diverse world, and they are somewhat less resistant to multiple points of view, they are often not the ones who determine textbook adaptability. Textbook publishing is too often driven by the marketplace, and when historians aim to introduce the concepts and interpretations discussed in this thread in K–12 settings, we confront resistant state educational systems. That is why I believe so strongly that, while it may begin in the college classrooms, teaching a more inclusive and realistic concept of U.S. history needs to go well beyond the academy.

A word about the “axes of interpretations”: In teaching my courses on Puerto Ricans in the United States, I cannot ignore the intersections of U.S., Caribbean, and Latin American histories. By the very nature of the courses I must adopt a transnational and south-to-north perspective. I cover a gendered history from the earliest contact between “Americans” and the Caribbean dating to the American Revolution; Manifest Destiny; the time of slavery and the slave trade, which spurred annexationist designs on Cuba and Puerto Rico; and the American Civil War. Because Latino populations in cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia during the nineteenth century tended to be multiethnic, I must include historical backgrounds on U.S. Cubans, Mexicans, and other Latin Americans and address historical events in their countries of origin as they affected the U.S. communities. The intersections with U.S. history become more obvious after 1898, when Puerto Rican enclaves increase dramatically in size and number, and their members enter a growing labor force and forge communities that ultimately buffer the large migrations following World War II. Interestingly, “The History of Puerto Rico” (a two-semester course that covers five centuries), cannot be divorced from that of indigenous America, Spanish America, and certainly not from that of the United States after 1898.

I continue to be amazed that scholars insist on addressing U.S. Puerto Ricans and other Latinos as if they only arrived during the mid-twentieth century. Granted, migration, mobility, and immigration are important approaches to understanding the complexities of U.S. history, particularly in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but when Plymouth Rock was just another rock, Spanish/Latino communities in what is today the United States were already creating history.

Matthew Garcia: George’s trouble with Ken Burns prefigured the more recent flap over Burns’s World War II documentary The War. In October 2007, at the American Studies Association (asa) conference, I, along with Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez, Desirée Garcia, Steve Pitti, and Phil Deloria, addressed the omission of Latinos and Native Americans from Burns’s film. This incident revealed a need for us to correct such ignorance in the realm of public humanities, where Burns’s films are located.[32]

The absence of Latinos in The War followed his egregious omissions of Latinos in films he made on two other important subjects in U.S. history: jazz and baseball. Recent books by Luis Alvarez, Anthony Macias, and Josh Kun have shown how deeply Latino musicians and audiences are implicated in the popular music of this country. On the issue of baseball, scholars such as Sam Regalado, José Alamillo, and Adrian Burgos have offered important correctives to Burns’s black-white vision of racial politics in major league baseball, and John Virtue’s South of the Color Barrier demonstrates how white, black, and Latino ballplayers played brilliant and profitable major league–quality baseball in Mexico during the 1930s and 1940s, long before Jackie Robinson’s arrival in Brooklyn in 1947.[33]

It would be, and has been, easy to point the finger at Burns’s ignorance about Latino history and his stubborn unwillingness to change. While Burns is a problem, I think such attention on him obfuscates a challenge that we as Latino historians need to embrace head on: our role in the construction of public history. Latino historians need to claim a larger share of the public humanities ground from people such as Burns in both their own projects and the careers and projects they endorse for their students. This constitutes one of the most important new directions for Latino studies, and I want to offer a few examples of scholars and projects that are reshaping the place of Latinos in the discussion of our national history.

Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez has been a pioneer in the creation and promotion of public humanities projects focused on the role of Latinas and Latinos in World War II. An associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas, Austin, Rivas-Rodríguez has overseen the collection of more than seven hundred hours of audiotaped interviews with Latina and Latino veterans of the war by graduate and undergraduate students. The U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project is accessible to the public at its user-friendly Web site.[34] Perhaps most impressive are the political dimensions of Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez’s work. As the public learned of the content of Burns’s World War II film, she embraced the role of protest leader and public television enemy number one. When I was putting together the panel for the asa, Lea Sloan, the spokesperson for the president of pbs, Paula Kerger, assured me that Maggie spoke only for a small cadre of extremists who were ignorant of Burns’s project. (Needless to say, Kerger, Sloan, and Burns refused invitations from then-asa president Vicki Ruiz to attend the panel.) In fact, Rivas-Rodríguez organized a well-orchestrated listserv and Web site called Defend the Honor and embarked on a national speaking tour to raise public consciousness about the problem. In the end, Burns and pbs were forced to make concessions by “tacking on” short films highlighting both Mexican and Native American veterans—a result that almost no one was satisfied with, including Rivas-Rodríguez. The campaign against Burns’s film, however, demonstrated a form of academic activism in the realm of public humanities that will hopefully make public television more accountable to an increasingly diverse audience that includes Latinos.[35]

George Sánchez’s Boyle Heights Project is another wonderful example of consequential public humanities.[36] Through the pedagogical model of service learning, Sánchez united a multiracial group of students with public humanities institutions such as the Japanese American National Museum and public high schools to create a project with multiple outcomes: a major museum exhibition, free teacher’s guides for teaching Los Angeles history, high school student radio projects, undergraduate and graduate research papers, and Sánchez’s own scholarship.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this project has been Sánchez’s incorporation of young scholars and his embrace of a multiracial community story that influenced the Bracero History Archive Project. These projects not only place Latino studies in dialogue with a deeper history of race and ethnicity in America but also provide useful outcomes for the promotion of these perspectives among a new generation of scholars, students, and teachers.

The Bracero History Archive Project is another example of not just talking back to Burns but offering a model of collaboration with public humanities institutions that are changing the way Latino history reaches the general populace. Unlike public television executives who were defensive about, and dismissive of, Latino complaints concerning their programming during the Burns controversy, the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution has taken steps to address its service to Latino audiences. When I was a graduate student and a participant in the first Latino qualitative studies seminar program at the Smithsonian Institution in 1994, I read and commented on a Smithsonian self-study entitled “Willful Neglect,” in which curators and Smithsonian staff revealed the lack of attention to Latino subjects in their exhibits and the alienation of Latino audiences in their museums. Although the response by the Smithsonian to the study was not swift—complicated by executive mismanagement, dwindling budgets, and the imposition of right-wing “political correctness” from Congress—some within the institution have managed to find a space for creating exhibitions and public history programs that have begun to reverse this historic neglect. The embrace by the Smithsonian of the Bracero Archive History Project, which is now a traveling exhibition, “Bittersweet Harvest,” demonstrates how much a public humanities institution can change. While there are miles to go for our nation’s history museum, I think the bracero project achieved two major goals: it expanded the knowledge of Latino history for a richer national dialogue on the issues of race, immigration, and labor, and it created archives and exhibitions that will serve as a foundation for the production of knowledge and policy affecting Latino communities.[37]

I think it is worth noting that the projects I have mentioned have only tangential affiliations with traditional history departments at academic institutions. More often, these programs have been sponsored or facilitated by interdisciplinary academic units such as American studies or ethnic studies, journalism, or stand-alone institutions. Notably, Maggie is a journalist, and the Bracero History Archive Project grew out of the heroic efforts of Kristine Navarro, not a historian by training, but a committed, community-sensitive director of the Institute for Oral History at the University of Texas, El Paso. These are notable affiliations and origins because they exist on the fringes or beyond the boundaries of traditional history departments. It is worth citing George Sánchez’s important and provocative 2007 article in AHA Perspectives, in which he labels as a crisis the collective failure of history departments in this country to train and engage students of color. In my opinion, such a “crisis” exists not only because traditional history departments place geographical and temporal limitations on knowledge that often alienate students of color but also because these same departments endorse very narrow methodologies for conducting and delivering historical research. This is why so many students of color interested in historical research as a career demonstrate a preference for graduate programs in interdisciplinary departments such as American studies and ethnic studies. In some ways, this answers Donna’s question about what interdisciplinary departments such as American studies are doing to facilitate Latino history. From my perspective they are carrying the torch.[38]

JAH: We are intrigued by George’s effort to impel Ken Burns and his staff to rethink the chronological starting point of his documentary on the history of the American West. We’re wondering if you all might expand on the seeming disjuncture between complex scholarly understandings of, say, the U.S. West (and Latinos therein) and simpler narratives and “sacred timelines” that continue to shape the public imaginary. María’s textbook project strikes us as one tangible way that scholarly knowledge might work to shape public knowledge. Matt’s work on the bracero exhibit and Virginia’s work on public school curriculum both seem aimed toward similar objectives. Does anyone wish to elaborate on their efforts, or add your own?

We also wonder if we might shift our focus a bit to attend to the particular themes and prevailing subfields that drive much of current U.S. historical scholarship. For example, we were especially intrigued by Matt’s transnational work involving bracero oral history, and we were wondering what challenges or opportunities it portends for historians of U.S. labor who do not think of themselves as scholars of Latino experiences, per se.

What challenges and promises do you all see for expanding these and other interpretive categories—within and also beyond those of “race, class, and gender”? How do Latino histories speak to trends in existing subfields, themes, or regions as presently organized within U.S. history (i.e., the U.S. West, southern history, urban history, environmental history, economic history, and the like)? In other words, to what extent does viewing “Latino history as U.S. history” necessitate working within existing nation-bound and conventional categories, subfields, themes, and regions—rather than beyond or outside them?

Gabaccia: From my perspective, Latino history adds to a small chorus of voices that have over the years worked to transform U.S. immigration history and—less successfully—to change how movements of peoples are integrated into the narrative of U.S. history. Like it or not, many general U.S. textbooks still treat “immigration” as a theme related to either industrialization or “westward expansion” and discuss it only for the years between 1870 and 1920. (It has been quite a few years since I stopped teaching U.S. women’s and gender history, so I would need to do some additional work before I could say how Latino history, along with other more international approaches, are working their influence.) Immigration as an element in the narrative of U.S. history remains too little changed from what it was thirty years ago. I haven’t had the chance to review large numbers of syllabi for courses such as “The U.S. in the World,” or “Global America,” although I suspect these do treat migration more consistently and centrally over a longer chronological range. Outside the academy, however, as George’s experience suggests, resistance to change is equally, if not more, intense. I have literally had documentary filmmakers stop the camera and ask me to “keep it centered on the United States” when I have offered my usual talking head comparisons of the United States to other countries shaped by international migrations.

Sánchez Korrol: In my experience working with cultural and historical institutions beyond the classroom I find it easier to educate and effect attitudinal changes by relating to established comfort zones (such as the use of conventional categories) while at the same time posing subtle challenges that tend to unsettle previously held perspectives. I search for opportunities to center Latino history in which I get to work collaboratively with other scholars and historians because such teamwork fosters a rich, comprehensive understanding of the task at hand, whether it be mounting a new museum exhibition, writing a book, or consulting on a research or film project. More importantly, collaborative work engenders a sense of commitment, investment, and ownership of a project that often results in a positive gain.

A current project in which I am involved offers a good example. It is sponsored by the New-York Historical Society and El Museo del Barrio and involves mounting a major exhibition of Hispanic New York history and culture, “Nueva York: 1613–1945,” which challenges conventional wisdom about the history of the city and the role of Hispanic/Latinos before the great mid-twentieth-century migrations/immigrations. The team of scholars and historians (including the filmmaker, Ric Burns, since the Burnses have been mentioned before) consulting on the project have met for several years to hammer out the ideological foundations for this exhibition. There are many issues with which we are still grappling but many more have been resolved and form the crux of what I expect will be a highly publicized, informative exhibition and an important step in centering Latino history in New York City.[39]

I find that bringing in the faces of Latino history—stories of individual Latinos—is absolutely priceless in telling the story of a people. It is a useful way to introduce Latino history into the conversation within existing nation-bound categories and subfields. (Please understand that I use the term Latino to include Latinas as well.) If Latino scholars were up in arms over Ken Burns’s interpretation of World War II, it was precisely because Latinos did not see themselves or their deeds in his recounting; and they know that they were part of the history of that war, a significant, often canonical event in the national saga. If nothing else, historians who specialize in Latino history realized once again the influence of film in telling a people’s story, the impact it has on public awareness, and the degree to which World War II is internalized into the national psyche.

Biography may seem passé to young historians today, though I find it to be among the most challenging of historical writing. It is the one area where Latino history is most lacking. Had it not been for the work on Latina history that Vicki and I co-edited, I would not have appreciated, for example, the complexity of religion in Latino history as both a prescriptive and proactive factor in building community and forming individual experiences. And another stereotype bit the dust when our women’s life stories demonstrated that Latinas were leaders in a myriad of religious movements, organizers of radical groups that challenged both popes and shamans; prophets, feminists, and community organizers in pastoral services; founders of conventual orders; and one was even a saint in progress. None of their actions occurred in a vacuum; each woman was a witness or agent of change in Latino history. Against the backdrop of the research in Latino subfields, individual lives offer countless opportunities to bring Latino history into public awareness, but substantial challenges also remain.[40]

María Cristina García: Regarding the influence of Latino studies on particular subfields and themes, I am struck by how many scholars in area studies—Southeast Asianists, Latin Americanists, etc.—have been inspired by the scholarship on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, much of which came out of Chicano studies. It has had an enormous influence on the study of borders worldwide: as geopolitical constructions, cultural spaces, and as metaphors for hybridity and “in-betweenness.”

Scholars of immigration and foreign policy are also now drawing on each other’s scholarship as the relationship between foreign policy decisions and population flows is increasingly acknowledged and explored. Until fairly recently, you would have rarely found a panel on immigration issues at a Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations conference, for example. That isn’t true anymore, and I think that historians of Latino immigration have helped facilitate those discussions.

Montoya: I want to continue to talk about the public history and storytelling aspect that Virginia brought up earlier. First, I want to second her observation that biography and story are often the keys to reaching the widest possible audiences. As accomplished academics we are all smitten with theory, historiography, and pushing the intellectual limits of our field. After all, that is how we are rewarded in the profession with tenure, book contracts, and prizes. Rarely are academics rewarded by their institutions for their public service: textbook writing, consulting on exhibits and films, or curating an exhibition. My experience suggests that we (or at least I) do these projects out of a sense of devotion to the larger project of having history “trickle down” to larger audiences—audiences for whom a certain project might be their only encounter with Latina/o history. (Another topic of conversation might be to examine this divide between academic tenure standards and the desire to work in a more public realm of history.)

I have been involved recently with two projects that speak to the interpretative power of biography and storytelling. The first focuses on a single iconic figure of Mexican American history, Padre Antonio José Martinez, the beloved, but also hated priest of northern New Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century. The second was part of a project to incorporate Mexican Americans into a history of the American West. In two very different ways these projects place the history of Mexican Americans in a broad, transborder, and national historical perspective.

First, I have been a consultant for Paul Espinosa’s documentary project on Padre Martinez. The film has been a long time in the making as Espinosa, a professor at Arizona State University, has been looking for funding through agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (neh). As the project has evolved, due in part to critiques made by neh panels, its scope has broadened to encompass not only the biography of this fascinating man but also an examination of day-to-day life on the borderlands, the power of Enlightenment thinking in Mexico and the emerging United States, and the interactions between local Hispano communities and encroaching Anglo military and religious peoples. Individuals and biography can be a powerful lens through which historians can tell stories about a group of people or a region. But, like Virginia, I think that biography often gets belittled because it is not seen as a type of history worthy of academic attention.[41]

I have also been involved in a project to develop a “History in a Box” on the American West for the Gilder Lerhman Institute. These boxes include images, audio material, questions, and a short book aimed at helping middle school and high school teachers incorporate the history of the American West into their curriculum. Under the leadership of Elliott West, the team of Patty Limerick, Richard White, Marni Sandweiss, and I developed a set of teaching materials in twelve lessons that would tell the story of “the West” from a multiethnic perspective. We wanted to counterbalance the triumphalist narratives of westward expansion. Our goal was to create a story of the richness and complexity of settling the American West—the removal of Indians, the dispossession of Mexican Americans, the discrimination against Asian Americans, the accompanying environmental devastation in conjunction with the well-worn narratives of Anglo expansion and development—in a way that was understandable and teachable to younger students. We found that stories and biography were the most compelling tools in getting our point across.[42]

Matthew Garcia: I appreciate everyone’s recognition that Latino history has the power to transform the narrative of “American history” as well as area studies such as labor history, history of the West, economic history, etc. María’s textbook project is a glowing example of this. I also second Virginia’s call to avoid the “add-and-stir” approach, or as Charles Payne has labeled it, “me-too” history.[43] Payne’s point applied to African Americans, but I think it is equally relevant to Latinos: too often historians look for African Americans in accepted historical moments without thinking about how their presence transformed history, or perhaps more importantly, exacerbated problems such as genocide, social inequality, and other trends.

The Bracero History Archive Project presented us with a similar dilemma. Some wanted to frame the project as part of the “greatest generation” who fought World War II. Tom Brokaw has made this point, as has Tom Hanks, Stephen Ambrose, and Ken Burns (to mix journalists, actors, academics, and filmmakers in one thought!). We ultimately rejected that framing for a number of reasons. First, it largely doesn’t apply to the braceros when you look at when a majority of guest workers served: approximately 4–7 percent of the total 4.6 million contracts filled during the life of the program were filled during the war years; nearly 72 percent of the work happened between 1955 and 1964. Second, the “greatest generation” often emphasizes men’s contributions, and that tack would again be misrepresenting the experience: the commitment involved entire families, not just the men who traveled north. The program made single mothers out of thousands of women with the stroke of a pen, placing both governments in the awkward position of giving legal sanction to the separation of families.[44]

In executing the project and listening to the interviewees we discovered something much more profound: these families’ experiences marked the first serious dependence on temporary workers in the United States, a condition that we still live with today. The braceros contributed to the creation of agricultural empires in the South and West after the completion of federal water projects in the 1930s and 1940s. For Mexico, paid labor in the United States provided a degree of relief from the poverty in the Mexican countryside and allowed Mexican laborers to apply their considerable agricultural expertise. On the other hand, Mexican nationals and the Mexican government constantly had to manage racial hostility and the resentment of competing laborers in the United States. The Mexican consulate had to intervene in several locations due to violence against braceros by Mexican American residents. The program encouraged such competition by placing bracero camps on the proverbial “other side of the tracks,” near Mexican American barrios where “the guests” often competed with locals for jobs and the affection of local women. Such conditions led to suspensions in the program; it also contributed to the formation of the farm workers movement led first by the famous labor intellectual Ernesto Galarza in the 1950s and later by César Chávez in the 1960s.

Again, dealing with the divide between perception and reality, the popular lore surrounding the farm workers movement is that it brought an end to the bracero program. While the specific agreement between Mexico and the United States ceased after 1964, the bracero program established U.S. employers’ dependence on foreign workers. Undocumented workers continued to exist, as did guest worker programs: the H-2A program, begun in 1943 and augmented in 1986, has brought thousands of guest workers to the United States. Today, guest workers come from Asia, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and involve male and female workers in numerous industries.

The guest worker programs remain popular among liberals and conservatives, as well as among Mexican and American lawmakers in plans to overhaul the immigration system. The braceros and their families, despite being a fraction of the total work force from 1942–1964 have had an enormous influence over discussions of race, labor, and immigration then and now. Additionally, the issue of temporary guest workers has expanded to other countries. In short, the program links so many subjects that are important to laborers, industries, and nations that it behooves policy makers and scholars to become familiar with this history to know where we’ve been and where we are headed as a global society.

Hoffnung-Garskof: I think the invisibility of the bracero program in public discourse about the peopling of the United States is really important. I think it is part of a bigger problem: the continued power of a “sacred timeline” in which immigration to the United States is imagined to have stopped in the early 1920s with the passage of national origins restrictions and started again in 1965 with the triumph of liberal reform. This narrative enshrines as the two key points of immigration history moments that either did not pertain to Latin American immigration or had an effect opposite to the one popularly understood. The restriction of migration from Europe in the 1920s helped spur labor recruitment from Mexico and Puerto Rico, and of course, as María Cristina points out, the 1940s (when there was ostensibly no immigration in the United States) was a period of massive immigration from Mexico, although defined as temporary or illegal. The mid-1960s marked the end of the bracero program and a wave of anti-Mexican sentiment, and the legislation in 1965 was intended to reduce the flow of Latin American immigration. In effect, it defined many in the subsequent generation of migrants from south of the border as illegal by restricting the availability of visas to the region. I think that it is remarkable how little these basic facts, well known to scholars in Latina/o history, have penetrated the narratives taught in U.S. surveys. I can’t tell you how many journalists, students, and even colleagues I hear describe Latin Americans as part of a “post-1965” immigration wave. This is not just about K–12 education but also about how U.S. surveys are taught at the university level. Wonderful colleagues, who have dedicated their careers to unteaching the basic mythologies of U.S. history, still don’t unravel the mythology about 1965 as the triumph of liberal policy that unleashed a new wave of ethnic diversity. The result is that the most prominent message about the timing and shape of immigration is that everyone always wants to come here and the only factor that determines whether they succeed is what laws Congress passes. In fact, both the desire (or perceived need) of some (but not all) in the world to come to the United States after World War II and the conditions that made fulfilling that desire possible need explaining but have very little to do with the 1965 legislation. Paul can perhaps chime in for a continued focus on 1965 for understanding Asian American history, but for the vast majority of immigrants who came to the United States between 1950 and 2010, other factors were much more important than immigration reform: for example, having a long history of migration under various conditions (as was the case with Mexico) or having U.S. foreign policy entanglements (in the cases of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Haiti, Central America, Vietnam, Korea, Colombia, Cambodia, even Japan, Germany, Bosnia, and Iraq—not to mention Puerto Rico, which was perhaps a case of a foreign policy entanglement in a domestic sense). In other words, here is a case where the basic narrative of Latino history can crucially redirect U.S. history away from a “sacred timeline” (and correct the reading of a central historical phenomenon). Not surprisingly, the alternate reading suggested by Latino history requires significant attention to the United States in the world and to social processes in parts of the world that do not fit easily into established narratives of immigrants as inevitably drawn to the beacon of liberty and opportunity.

María Cristina García: I agree with María and Virginia’s comments about biography and story as keys to reaching a wider audience and to conveying a sense of history that is personal. Over the past few years I’ve offered a yearly seminar that has a service-learning component, in part to allow students to hear stories, to see how “immigration theory” plays out in their own backyard. I know that service learning has its critics, but I have found this course to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a professor. The seminar functions in much the same way as other seminars I offer—we read about and discuss issues and topics related to the subject of immigration to the United States—but the community service project sets the course apart. Ithaca and the surrounding Tompkins County have a large, diverse immigrant and refugee population (Ithaca is a self-designated “city of asylum”), which is easy to ignore if you don’t travel outside the ivy gates. With the assistance of Cornell University’s Public Service Center, students identify and work on individual projects in the local community. Fortunately, the federal work-study program allows students to receive financial compensation for the time invested in their projects, so students do not have to choose between community service and a paycheck. Students have worked as tutors; others have assisted local doctors, lawyers, and unions to provide information to underserved members of our community. Some of the students have been involved in an oral history project that we set up with Cornell Library to document the stories of immigrants and refugees in our community. The students keep a journal of their experiences, which they contribute to the archives at the end of the semester. Many students become so involved in their projects that they continue their work until graduation. More than a few have changed their career choice as a result of their projects. As a professor I am pleased to see how the students integrate what they read and discuss in the seminar with their experiences in the community. They come to class informed, committed to integrating service into their lives, and deeply moved by the stories they hear.

Burgos: Jesse vividly captures why Latino history offers a troubling corrective to popular history of immigration, the American dream, and racial understandings. The popular story of immigration and even the focus of immigration history, which for so long was on European immigration, has created a lacuna between 1924 and 1965: that is, since European immigration was largely restricted then “no one” was immigrating or migrating to the United States. As the work of the scholars in this forum demonstrates, nothing could be further from the historical truth: Latinos were coming from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and elsewhere from Latin America.

JAH Associate Editor John Nieto-Phillips: Many of you are doing important work in the public humanities—K–12 education, museums, documentaries, etc.—and that work clearly gains urgency in light of curricular debates throughout the country. Several of you have mentioned your roles in the creation of textbooks and curriculum. María Cristina’s service-learning project suggests the power of civic engagement not only to ground historical understanding in experiential learning and individual lives but also to build an archive of Latina and Latino voices.

Another way our work enters the public realm is through the teaching of future educators. Over the past fifteen years, probably like many of you, I’ve taught hundreds of school of education students. I’ve done so in two very distinct settings: at New Mexico State University (a Hispanic-Serving Institution with about a 45 percent Latino student body) and at Indiana University, Bloomington (a predominantly white midwestern public institution with a 3 percent Latino student body). At both universities, the education students who have taken my courses have usually done so as an elective, rather than as a requirement of a teaching degree or certificate. And they’ve typically looked to my courses as primers for understanding the cultural backgrounds of their future Latino students. This is perhaps more the case in Indiana, where the vast majority of my students are white, from working- or middle-class families, and from towns with small but growing Latino populations. These students’ perceptions of Latinos often are shaped more by popular media outlets (film, tv, music) than by face-to-face experiences; whereas Latino students in New Mexico, who composed upward of 75 percent of my enrollments, typically took my classes to gain a firmer grasp of their own history—a history they felt they had been deprived of in high school.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how my pedagogic mission and strategies have changed as I’ve adapted to my current institution. No longer can I take for granted that many of my students will see themselves reflected in the course content; nor can I expect to have more than a handful of Latino students enroll in any given class. And of the Latinas and Latinos who have enrolled, some have privately expressed misgivings about their roles as “tokens” or “spokespersons” among mostly non-Latino students enrolled in a Latino history course. That perhaps explains why other Latinos study in the relative obscurity of large, general U.S. history surveys, while many avoid history courses altogether. While I’m delighted, on the one hand, that so many non-Latino students are eager to gain “cultural competency” by studying Latino history, I’m distressed at the paucity of Latinos enrolled in my courses and in all history courses and what that bodes for the future of the discipline. I’m wondering what experiences or thoughts you all might wish to share in this regard.

In his 2007 piece in the AHA Perspectives, “Confronting a Crisis in the Historical Profession,” George Sánchez points to the low percentage of history bachelor degrees awarded to minorities:

One sign of the current crisis in the history discipline is that as the number of bachelor’s degrees being awarded to racial minorities has been steadily increasing over the past 15 years, history majors continue to be among the whitest groups at the undergraduate level. Between academic year 1992–93 and 2003–04, the proportion of minorities receiving bachelor’s degrees at U.S. colleges went from 17 percent to 27 percent. While this figure was consistently between 6 and 7 percent behind the overall population figures, it did show consistent improvement. The percentage of history bachelor’s degrees awarded to minorities in the same period, however, increased only from a low 8 percent to a mere 15 percent (that is, a full 12 percentage points behind the overall average). This put the discipline of history as the whitest undergraduate major in the humanities or social sciences at the national level.[45]

This trend, combined with the fact that a mere 7 percent of all doctoral recipients are Native American, African American, or Hispanic, compels me to wonder: Who will be producing and teaching “Latino history as U.S. history” as the student body continues to diversify? Who will be taking Latino history courses?

I would like to hear your thoughts on matters of the educational pipeline and the challenges and opportunities of diversifying the ranks (undergraduate and graduate students and faculty) of history departments. How does diversity figure into the future prospects of Latino history or the historical profession?

Spickard: I can think of no issue more important than this one. I serve in the University of California system, which has for the past few decades turned out more Latina/o history majors, more Latina/o high school teachers, and more Latina/o history Ph.D.’s than any other I can think of. Yet our numbers have not been large—despite, for example, a twenty-plus percent Latina/o undergraduate enrollment on my campus (we too are a Hispanic-Serving Institution).

One problem is that public decision making seems designed to make our output of Latina/o teachers and scholars small. This will inevitably affect our ability to change the U.S. history paradigm in the ways that we have been talking about in this conversation. Not that many years ago the people of California, the University of California Regents, and the legislature decided to outlaw affirmative action in the University of California system. For a decade or so after that, we at the University of California, Santa Barbara, managed to continue a measure of outreach that has kept our overall Latina/o undergraduate numbers high. But recently all outreach funds have been cut. Our president and regents are determined to make the move that the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia seem to have made already: to transform our school from a top public institution to a high-priced institution that is public in name only. Tuition has nearly doubled while support funds for graduate students have dropped precipitously. Our incoming graduate student cohort has been cut to a third of its former size. This means that the students we perhaps best served—bright kids from new-to-college, working-class, often Latina/o backgrounds—no longer have a place. It is no longer possible for graduate students to come without funding and support themselves by working only part time while pursuing a graduate education. Our incoming graduate students this year are all going to be white, all upper-middle class, and mostly from privileged Ivy League backgrounds. And my mostly white, mostly upper-middle class, and largely privileged history department colleagues seem unfazed by this development.

This is a gigantic problem chosen by the political class. It is a racialized decision that seems likely to have long-term negative consequences—not only for our Ph.D. programs and Latina/o students but across the board in terms of reduced access to higher education for people from working-class families. A few colleagues and I continue to do all we can to try to stem the tide, and we are turning out some tremendous students. But there is only so much we can do as individuals to deal with a problem that demands an institutional solution. Our nation is in the grip of an economic crisis caused by the collapse of Reaganite/Thatcherite economic assumptions, but this change in the nature of our university was in the planning stages long before the current economic crisis. I fail to see how a Reaganite/Thatcherite response—privatizing the university—does anything to help the situation.

We as historians can perhaps only address certain aspects of this problem. When George wrote about the racial crisis in the history profession, he identified one of our main challenges. With respect to those Latina/o students who remain in the university—and the University of California system will still have quite a number at the undergraduate level if not at the graduate—how do we make history attractive to them and get them to want to study it? Then, how do we teach it to a new generation?

These transformations point to the urgency of changing the paradigm of U.S. history. It cannot be taught as the history of European-descended people on the North American continent, with the occasional vignette about people of color thrown in as garnish. If we fail to recast the paradigm we are likely to become as irrelevant to students’ lives and to the overall process of higher education as the very white, very Eurocentric philosophy departments on most campuses.

Matthew Garcia: I think the financial crisis hitting universities threatens to reduce the flow from the pipeline to a trickle. In my observations at a few universities including my own, the size of entering graduate classes are being reduced in response to dwindling resources. In history departments it was always a tall order to get more than one or two students interested in Latino history into programs because of the competition for a few slots among Europeanists, Americanists, Latin Americanists, Asianists, etc. When you have a department of forty or more faculty, and the graduate school cuts admissions down to ten admissions to get four or five, it has been my experience that students of color are often the odd applicant out.

Equally troubling, money for fellowships—for postdoctoral and predoctoral students—seems to be drying up a bit. These are the easiest areas to cut for universities under financial pressure. They are also critical opportunities for junior Latina/o scholars to get their projects and careers kick-started. It is the duty of those of us in fellows programs or at universities that offer such programs to defend their preservation for the students we mentor and for future generations. We need to hold the line as much as possible on this.

Some interdisciplinary programs have done a better job than our history departments in feeding the history pipeline. We need to be supportive of Ph.D. degree–granting programs such as American studies and ethnic studies that contribute new historians to the profession.

Hoffnung-Garskof: Yes, the budget crisis is on our minds, but budgets grow and shrink in cycles. The University of Michigan is weathering the storm well because, alas, we already shifted to a tuition-based model of university budgeting over the last decade. Here our bigger crisis is the state ballot initiative banning affirmative action. Given the significant private funds invested in getting this on the ballot, the dishonest way that it was worded (as a civil rights initiative), and the large proportion of voters who favored it, this policy is likely to continue to tie our hands for a long time. Clearly, we are not the only ones facing the difficultly of openly discussing the goal of racial and ethnic diversity (not to mention ideas as radical as equity or justice). At the graduate level those of us who are committed to recruiting, mentoring, and placing students from underrepresented groups still do okay. Indeed, the shocking realities in history programs at the national level revealed in George’s study remind me of how lucky I am to be appointed in not one but two programs (American culture and Latin American history) that are rare pockets of institutional commitment to equal opportunity for students of color and working-class white students. Oddly, we benefit from the generalized lack of interest in this project shown by other programs, who don’t admit enough students who qualify for on-campus diversity fellowships, even in the post–affirmative action era. A few programs end up carrying the weight of university-wide initiatives and reap most of the benefits of those programs. At the undergraduate level, however, the picture is bleak. This is the dilemma of teaching at a major research university. Our admissions standards are set in a way that they can—for the most part—only be met by students from private schools or elite public school systems. Since the federal and local governments have conspired for decades to segregate housing by class and race and to create school districts that mirror housing segregation patterns, the University of Michigan, more than most elite public universities, ends up simply ratifying the existing class/race structure of our state through “merit”-based admissions standards.

[1] Vicki L. Ruiz, “Nuestra América: Latino History as United States History,” Journal of American History, 93 (Dec. 2006), 655–72.

[2] Américo Paredes, “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (Austin, 1958); Rodolfo Acuña, Occupied America: The Chicano’s Struggle toward Liberation (San Francisco, 1972).

[3] Juan Flores, “Latino Studies: New Contexts, New Concepts,” Harvard Educational Review, 67 (Summer 1997), 208–22.

[4] James C. McKinley Jr., “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change,” New York Times, March 12, 2010, Texas Education Agency, “Proposed State Board of Education Rules,” 2010,

[5] José Martí, Our America: Writings on Latin America and the Struggle for Cuban Independence, ed., Philip S. Foner, trans. Elinor Randall (1891; New York, 1977).

[6] Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People (Boston, 1951), 3.

[7] Martí, Our America, 84.

[8] Eileen J. Suárez Findlay, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920 (Durham, 1999).

[9] Adrian Burgos Jr., Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (Berkeley, 2007), 98.

[10] Sau-ling Wong, “Denationalization Reconsidered: Asian American Cultural Criticism at a Theoretical Crossroads,” Amerasia Journal, 21 (nos. 1–2, 1995), 1–27.

[11] Rudy P. Guevarra, “Aloha Compadre: Historical and Contemporary Latina/o Transpacific Migrations to the Hawai‘ian Islands,” paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 2009.

[12] Julia María Schiavone Camacho, “Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: The Mexican Chinese Transpacific Journey to Become Mexican, 1930s–1960s,” Pacific Historical Review, 78 (Nov. 2009), 545–77; Verónica Castillo-Muñoz, “Divided Communities: Agrarian Struggles, Transnational Migration, and Families in Northern Mexico, 1910–1952” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Irvine, 2009).

[13] Martí, Our America, 74–75.

[14] José Martí, Selected Writings, ed. and trans. Esther Allen (New York, 2002), 32–33.

[15] Philip S. Foner, ed., Inside the Monster, by José Martí: Writings on the United States and American Imperialism, trans. Elinor Randall (New York, 1975), 39. Nancy Hewitt, Southern Discomfort: Women’s Activism in Tampa, Florida, 1880s–1920s (Urbana, 2001), 64. Louis A. Pérez Jr., “The Circle of Connections: One Hundred Years of Cuba-U.S. Relations,” in Bridges to Cuba—Puentes a Cuba: Cuban and Cuban-American Artists, Writers, and Scholars Explore Identity, Nationality, and Homeland, ed. Ruth Behar (Ann Arbor, 1995), 161–79.

[16] Nancy Mirabal, “‘Ser de Aquí’: Beyond the Cuban Exile Model,” in American Dreaming, Global Realities: Rethinking U.S. Immigration History, ed. Donna R. Gabaccia and Vicki L. Ruiz (Urbana, 2006), 447–52. See also Paul Giles, “The Parallel Worlds of José Martí,” Radical History Review, 89 (Spring 2004), 185–90.

[17] Ruiz, “Nuestra América,” 672.

[18] I often teach the 1658 play William Davenant, “The Play-House to be Let, containing the history of Sir Francis Drake, and the Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru,” in The Works of Sir William Davenant Consisting of Those which were formerly Printed, And Those which he design’d for the Press: Now Published Out of the Authors Originall Copies (London, 1673). Bartolomé de las Casas, The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account, trans. Herma Briffault (1552; Baltimore, 1994); Bartolomé de las Casas, The Tears of the Indians: Being an Historical and True Account of the Cruel Massacres and Slaughters of above Twenty Millions of Innocent People, Committed by the Spaniards in the Islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, &c. (London, 1656). Fray Mathias Sáenz de San Antonio, “Lord if the Shepherd Does Not Hear,” 1724, in The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition from 1542 to the Present, ed. Margarite Fernandez Olmos and Harold Augenbraum (New York, 1997). Unfortunately, not yet in translation is Lope de Vega, La dragontea (Burgos, 1935).

[19] Theodore Roosevelt, “The Spread of the English Speaking Peoples,” in The Winning of the West (New York, 1889), 15–261; José Enrique Rodó, Ariel (Santiago, Chile, 1900). José Enrique Rodó’s writings in defense of Latin American culture against the craze for all things North American were broadly influential across Latin America. In Ariel, borrowing from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Rodó cast the United States as a lumbering, mediocre, and materialist Caliban threatening to consume the spiritual and cultured Latin American, Ariel. To Rodó, a preservation of social hierarchy and the rule of the cultured elite were crucial to the defense of Latin America against the imperial threat.

[20] José Martí, “Mi raza,” Patria, April 16, 1893.

[21] Donna R. Gabaccia, “Is Everywhere Nowhere? Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of United States History,” Journal of American History, 86 (Dec. 1999), 1115–34. For the work of the “Italians Everywhere” project, see Donna Gabaccia, Franca Iacovetta, and Fraser Ottanelli, “Laboring across National Borders: Class, Gender, and Militancy in the Proletarian Mass Migrations,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 66 (Fall 2004), 57–77. For the statistics on Italian migration, see Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (Seattle, 2000), table I.1.

[22] Américo Paredes, Folklore and Culture on the Texas-Mexican Border, ed. Richard Bauman (Austin, 1993), 139; José David Saldívar, Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies (Berkeley, 1997), 37. Américo Paredes saw the proliferation of the Spanish language, Mexican music genres of orquesta and conjunto on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border as examples of a cultural area he called “Greater Mexico.” Gloria Anzaldúa embodied this concept in her memoir and meditation on U.S.-Mexican border identities. See Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, 1987).

[23] “Shifting Boundaries: Place and Space in the Romance Cultures of North America,” Eighth International Conference on Latina/Latino Cultures, May 25–29, 1998, University of Groningen, the Netherlands; Bracero History Archive,; “The School of Transborder Studies: A Bold New Venture of Arizona State University,” Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,

[24]The Ibero-American Heritage Curriculum: Latinos in the Making of the United States of America, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Albany, 1992).

[25]“Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage,” Latinoteca, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Who Would Have Thought It?, ed. Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita (1872; Houston, 1995); María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, The Squatter and the Don, ed. Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita (1885; Houston, 1997). On the life and work of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, see Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita, eds., Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton (Houston, 2001). Leonor Villegas de Magnón, The Rebel, ed. Clara Lomas (Houston, 1994).

[26] Gary Y. Okihiro, Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture (Seattle, 1994), ix.

[27] Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950 (Princeton, 2008).

[28] Paul Spickard, Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity (New York, 2007).

[29] Ramón A. Gutiérrez, When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500–1846 (Stanford, 1991).

[30]The West, dir. Stephen Ives (Florentine Films, 1996) (dvd, 5 discs, pbs Home Video).

[31] Acuña, Occupied America; María Cristina García, Havana, usa: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959–1994 (Berkeley, 1996); Virginia E. Sánchez Korrol, From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City (Berkeley, 1994); Vicki Ruiz, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930–1950 (Albuquerque, 1987).

[32]The War, dir. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (Florentine Films, 2007) (dvd , 6 discs, pbs Home Video).

[33]Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns, dir. Ken Burns (Florentine Films, 2001) (dvd, 10 discs, pbs Home Video); Baseball, dir. Ken Burns (Florentine Films, 1994) (dvd, 10 discs, pbs Home Video); Luis Alvarez, The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance during World War II (Berkeley, 2008); Anthony Macias, Mexican America Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935–1968 (Durham, 2008); Josh Kun, Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America (Berkeley, 2005). See also Juan Flores, From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity (New York, 2000). Samuel O. Regalado, Viva Baseball! Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger (Urbana, 1998); José M. Alamillo, Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town, 1880–1960 (Urbana, 2006), 99–119; Burgos, Playing America’s Game; John Virtue, South of the Color Barrier: How Jorge Pasquel and the Mexican League Pushed Baseball toward Racial Integration (Jefferson, 2008).

[34]U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project,

[35] Suzanne Gomboa, “Hispanics Pressure pbs over WWII Series,” usa Today, March 30, 2007, http://www; “Burns Documentary Angers Latino Veterans,” ibid., April 8, 2007, Defend the Honor,

[36]Boyle Heights Project: The Power of Place,

[37] Smithsonian Institute Task Force on Latino Issues, “Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos,” May 1994, box 1, accession 95-073, Office of the Under Secretary, Latino Task Force Records, 1993–1994 (Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C.); National Museum of American History, “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942–1964,”

[38] George J. Sanchez, “Confronting a Crisis in the Historical Profession,” AHA Perspectives, 45 (Oct. 2007),

[39] “Nueva York: 1613–1945,” El Museo del Barrio New York,

[40] Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol, eds., Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia (Bloomington, 2006).

[41] “The Life and Times of Padre Martínez,” Espinosa Productions,

[42] On “History in a Box,” see “Teaching American History Grants: Educational Resources,” Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History,

[43] Charles Payne explained to me that he used the label “me-too history” in a lecture I witnessed at the University of Illinois as a shorthand for Vincent Harding’s description of “Negro History.” According to Harding, advocates of “Negro History” attempted to validate the black presence in U.S. society by writing of black contributions to such things as conquest and westward expansion. Harding wrote of this approach: “Negro History is perhaps most tragic . . . because Negro History comes in on westward expansion by talking about black cowboys and by talking about how we were there too, and how we played our role in the winning of the West.” See Vincent Harding, “History: White, Negro, and Black,” Southern Exposure, 1 (Winter 1974), 60. Charles Payne to Matthew Garcia, e-mail, June 9, 2010 (in Matthew Garcia’s possession).

[44] Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation (New York, 1998); Manuel García y Greigo, “The Importation of Mexican Contract Laborers to the United States, 1942–1964,” in Between Two Worlds: Mexican Immigrants in the United States, ed. David Gutierrez (Wilmington, 1996), 49–50.

[45] Sanchez, “Confronting a Crisis in the Historical Profession.”

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The full text of the Journal of American History (1914–current) is available online to members of the OAH and to institutions that subscribe to the print versions of the journal. Electronic access is provided by Oxford University Press.

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A subscription to the JAH is one of the many benefits available to members of the Organization of American Historians (oah). To join the oah and receive the JAH, complete and submit a membership application at the oah Web site.

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Selected current and back issues of the JAH are available both as single issues and for large quantities, at volume pricing. For more information, please visit Oxford University Press