Race, Ethnicity, and Migration
Faculty in Race, Ethnicity, and Migration are broadly engaged in exploring how individual and collective identities are produced and analyzing the settings and ideologies that give rise to these categories. We have particular strengths in the study of race, ethnicity, and migration in the United States, but we also investigate the experiences of diasporic peoples, as well as the circulation of goods and ideas, across time and around the globe. Our work is particularly invested in understanding how categories of identity intersect and inform one another in spaces of cultural exchange. Our course offerings reflect our specialties in colonization and resistance, slavery and its legacies, migration and immigration, and nation-building and empire. Our research demonstrates a commitment to exploring relationships between race and ethnicity and other vectors of identity (such as gender, religion, citizenship, and national origin) as populations encounter one another. We welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in our areas of specialty and look forward to welcoming new minds into our collective.
Over the past thirty years, debates around race, ethnicity, and migration have cultivated a vibrant academic dialogue that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Spurred by the recent intensification of globalization processes on the one hand and an insistent focus on local realities of everyday life on the other, race, ethnicity, and migration studies have increasingly operated as a nexus of diverse scholarly investigations. Simultaneously, questions of racial identification, citizenship, and ethnic pride have captivated the public imagination, producing robust but often ahistorical commentaries on identity and belonging. Indeed, as historians Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob assert, “Because history and historical evidence are so crucial to a people’s sense of identity, the evidence itself often becomes the focus of the struggle.”[i] Faculty in REM are actively involved in research and pedagogy that engages both the history and historical evidence of race, ethnicity, and migration as both processes and outcomes, creating both innovative scholarship and important historical contexts for the broadest understanding of these complex phenomena. Further, as a flagship public university of a majority-minority state, Texas A&M University is in a prime position to foster public dialogue regarding the complex questions addressed in REM studies.
The work of faculty in REM reflects broader trends in the profession of history. The twentieth-century emergence of social history opened up a wide range of historical subjects whose experiences had never before been deemed worthy of inclusion in most grand historical narratives. For the first time, women, workers, and people of color began to appear in the work of professional historians who labored to liberate their lives from the margins. The ascendance of cultural history has meant that historians of race, ethnicity, and migration are necessarily attentive to narrative, language, and performance in their understandings of how such categories of identity operate. In the last thirty years, scholars have sharpened their efforts to explore the central role of race and ethnicity in shaping political, economic, and social opportunity, even as mass migrations across national, political, and social boundaries have accelerated.[ii] While early scholarship focused on uncovering the submerged stories of individuals who were marked as “different” by the dominant society in a given place and time, more recent work has complicated this approach by paying attention to historical agency of “Others” and highlighting the importance of considering interactions (including conflict) between and among racial and ethnic groups. No longer is North America viewed as a place where disparate communities rarely interacted; instead works like Gary Nash’s Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America (1974) and his later “The Hidden History of Mestizo America” (1995) helped to reveal that interracial unions and other close interactions between so-called separate races created a mass hybridization of cultures, peoples, and ideas from the colonial era to the present.[iii]
The history of immigration to the United States has also undergone important changes during the same period. Borrowing from sociology and legal studies, historians now understand U.S. immigration as more than a story of quick assimilation and upward mobility. As a result, narratives of U.S. immigration have become less linear and less triumphalist. For example, the sociological concept of “segmented assimilation” demonstrates that many immigrants have arrived into a stratified, unequal society where different paths of belonging to the U.S. nation-state were available and not all were necessarily beneficial. Furthermore, legal scholarship, such as Ian Haney Lopez’s White By Law (1996) has revealed that for many immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Catholic backgrounds, not being white, northern European, and Protestant have been serious obstacles to assimilation at one time or another. We draw upon these interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to the studies of immigration, race, and ethnicity to understand conflict and collaboration among and between the diverse peoples of the world.
Influential work in transnational history has further enriched our understanding of how categories of identity operate in specific historical contexts. Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation deployed the concept of “contact zones,” a useful way of theorizing the spaces in which peoples “geographically and historically separated come into contact with one another and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict.”[iv] This approach has proven especially fruitful for scholars of European empires and, as a result, Europe also is now perceived as a space where groups from different backgrounds came into contact and, through their negotiations, created new understandings of gender, racial, and economic relationships. Many new works, like Alec Hargreaves’s Immigration, ‘Race’ and Ethnicity in Contemporary France (1995) and Robert Aldrich’s Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums and Colonial Memories (2005) in the case of France, are especially attuned to how the migration of former colonial subjects to European metropolitan territories has called into question the boundaries of the nation-state and racialized definitions of citizenship, forcing a re-evaluation of more traditional narratives about modernity and universalism in European history.
As noted, this cluster cuts across traditional temporal and geographical subfields of the profession, uniting faculty members based on the kinds of historical questions they ask and the methodological strategies they employ to answer those questions. In fact, one of the great strengths of this cluster is its internal diversity. Faculty members in REM are interested in similar questions— for example, asking how broad processes of identity formation take place in historically specific moments of cultural exchange— but their areas of specialization range from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and focus on the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. They bring these differing knowledge bases to the undergraduate and graduate courses they offer in the department, exposing students to cultures around the globe and across time. Thus, they make a strong contribution to achieving two high priority goals of Texas A&M’s Vision 2020 plan—diversification and internationalization.
Through their links with scholars in other College of Liberal Arts’ units, like the Women’s and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, Hispanic Studies, and International Studies programs, they also provide a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, as well as serving as important points of contact for students seeking a multidimensional educational experience. They thus help to promote another central university goal: bringing critical interdisciplinary perspectives to our ever-broadening student body. REM pedagogical successes are exemplified in prizes awarded to their students.[v]
On a more local level, REM faculty demonstrate leadership within and beyond the Department of History by organizing colloquia and other events that promote the exploration of questions of race, ethnicity, and migration, and frequently do so in forums that are both attached to undergraduate instruction and conducive to public participation.[vi] Such events help educate the university community about the complex issues we explore in our research and teaching and make a powerful contribution to establishing and maintaining an open and respectful climate for diversity.
HIST258- American Indian History
HIST300- Blacks in the United States, 1607-1877
HIST301- Blacks in the United States Since 1877
HIST304- Mexican-American Frontier to 1848
HIST305- Mexican-American History 1848-Present
HIST307- Latino Communities of the U.S.
HIST308- History of Native Peoples of the U.S. South
HIST319- U.S. Immigration and Ethnicity
HIST 320- History of the Atlantic World
HIST 321- The Age of Revolution in the Atlantic World
HIST 322- History of the Iberian World
HIST326- The Caribbean to Emancipation
HIST327- The Caribbean since Emancipation
HIST341- Colonial Latin America
HIST367- Colonization of North America
HIST368- Birth of the Republic
HIST369- History of the United States 1829-1860
HIST401- Slavery in World History
HIST406-The Era of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire
HIST450- The Old South
HIST451- The New South
HIST357- Out of Africa: The Black Diaspora and the Modern World
HIST401- Slavery in World History
HIST453- The American Frontier
HIST475- Empire and History
HIST601- Colonial North America
HIST604- The Early Republic History
HIST678- Comparative Border Studies
HIST679- Topics in Comparative Border Studies
HIST617- Latin America during the National Period
HIST615- Colonial Latin America
Armando Alonzo, a native of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, is a Borderlands historian who studies the 18th to the 20th century. He is the author of Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in Texas, 1734-1900 (1998), and scholarly articles on social, economic, and cultural aspects of Tejanos and border society. His present projects include a transnational history of Texas and Northern Mexico, 1848-1942, and a study of Nuevo Santander. His recent book chapters have been published in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, and Canada.
Carlos Kevin Blanton earned his PhD from Rice University in 1999 and taught at Portland State University's Chicano/Latino Studies program for two years before arriving to Texas A&M in the fall of 2001. He teaches introductory surveys of Texas history and the second half of U.S. history, as well as more specialized courses in Latinos in the U.S., U.S. Education history, Texas history, and the U.S. in the Great Depression and World War II. He teaches several graduate courses, including U.S. history from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era, the Great Depression to the Cold War, an introductory seminar in Comparative Borders, and a special topics seminar in Comparative Borders on Chicana/o History. In the last decade he has published research articles in several prestigious historical journals, including the "Journal of Southern History," "Pacific Historical Review," "Western Historical Quarterly," and "Southwestern Historical Quarterly" as well as a monograph on the history of bilingual education in Texas. He has won book and article awards for his scholarship. His next book, to be completed in 2012 is a biography of the major Mexican American intellectual and civil rights activist George I. Sanchez.
Cynthia Bouton is a social and cultural historian focusing on early modern and Revolutionary Europe and the Atlantic. She studies the ways that inequities in access to basic subsistence needs—often linked to status/class, gender, race/ethnicity, patronage/political relations, and location—have influenced responses to suffering (both the threat of it and strategies to alleviate it). Her first book studied responses to a subsistence crisis in 1775 France, several articles explored the history of the politics of provisioning in France from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and her second book analyzed 19th- and 20th-century cultural and political engagements with an episode of social violence over food security. Her next book, “Subsistence, Society, and Culture in the Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century and Age of Revolution,” studies staple food production, marketplace interaction, entangled Atlantic trade networks, and government policies to understand adaptations to the “Atlanticization” of food regimes in the French, Spanish, and British Atlantic during the 18th century and revolutionary era.
Albert Broussard is the author of numerous books, including Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900-1954 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993), American History: The Early Years to 1877 with Donald A. Ritchie (Glencoe/McGraw Hill, 1997), African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998), and The American Vision with Joyce Appleby, Alan Brinkley, James M. McPherson, and Donald A. Ritchie (Glencoe/ McGraw Hill, 2002). His recent work includes considerations of African American civil rights dialogues in Hawai’i.
Glenn A. Chambers received his Ph. D. from Howard University in 2006 and joined the history department at Texas A&M the same year. Dr. Chambers teaches courses on the history of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. His most recent book Race, Nation, and West Indian Immigration to Honduras, 1890-1940 (Louisiana State University Press, 2010) focuses on the migration of West Indians to Honduras at the turn of the twentieth century to work in the American-dominated banana industry. His second book project expands the issues of race, ethnicity, nationalism, and immigration into a study on twentieth century Honduran immigration to New Orleans.
April Hatfield received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1997 and began teaching at Texas A&M the following year. Her work examines how borders and migration shaped individuals and institutions in the early modern Atlantic world. Her publications include several book chapters and articles and the monograph Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century (2004). Her current project “Creole Allegiances” follows a variety of individuals as they negotiated the borders of English and Spanish imperial spaces in the western Caribbean and southeastern North America.
Felipe Hinojosa earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston in 2009 and began teaching at Texas A&M University that same year. His teaching and research interests include Latina/o history, religion, comparative race and ethnicity, gender, and social movements. He is particularly interested in how Latina/o religious identities and cultures have operated within discourses of power and how they have helped shape cultural, political, and faith-informed activism in twentieth century America. In 2010 he was awarded a “First Book Grant for Minority Scholars” from the Louisville Institute and is currently working on his manuscript titled, “Quiet Riots: Faith, Activism, and Identity Among Latina/o Mennonites, 1932-1982.”
Angela Pulley Hudson is a specialist in American Indian history, with a particular interest in southeastern Indian ethnohistory. Her broad areas of research are the ethnogeography of indigenous North Americans, the intersection of American Indian and African American experiences, and the role of American Indians in U.S. popular culture. Her recent book, Creek Paths and Federal Roads: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves and the Making of the American South (2010), investigates the delineation of borders and paths between and across the Indian nations of the interior South from the Revolution to Removal. Her current project explores the phenomenon of interethnic impersonation and gendered performance in antebellum America by tracing the life and career of two successful “Indian” stage performers. She earned her PhD in American Studies in 2007 from Yale University and joined the faculty at A&M the same year.
Walter Kamphoefner earned his Ph.D. at University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978, has taught at Texas A&M University since 1988, and was awarded two Senior Fulbright Lectureships in Germany. A specialist on German-American immigration and ethnicity, he has published three authored or co-edited books in German and English versions, and articles in four languages. Much of his research is informed by a transatlantic perspective on German immigration, on the political socialization of German immigrants in the Civil War era, and on the persistence of ethnic language and culture across the generations. In teaching the history of immigration and ethnicity, he takes his course right down to the present, with an emphasis on comparisons across time and between various groups, posing the question of what had changed and what has stayed the same about the American ethnic experience over the past two centuries, and exploring the similarities and differences in the experiences of racial versus ethnic minorities.
Jason Parker conducts research on US-"Third World" relations that engages both the formal and informal "diplomacy" embedded in the interactions of empires, nations, and peoples. He examines the ways in which state- and non-state actors in the United States engaged with their counterparts abroad within a complicated matrix of strategy, security, decolonization, and race during the long "American Century." His first book looked at the actions of the US-based actors– the American government, African Americans, and Caribbean immigrants– in the push for independence in the British West Indies. His current project examines the US public-diplomacy campaigns to win the "hearts and minds" of the global South during the Cold War and how those campaigns inadvertently contributed to the formation of the Third World as a geopolitical concept and entity at the crossroads of empire, race/ethnicity, and nationalism.
Lisa Y. Ramos received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and has been at Texas A&M-College Station since 2008. She teaches courses on Texas History, U.S. History since the Civil War, the History of Race and Racism in the U.S., and Latino Communities in the U.S. Her research interests center on the Mexican American experience in the U.S., civil rights movements, and critical race theory. She is completing a book manuscript on the impact of race and ethnicity constructions on the Mexican American civil rights movement of the early twentieth century.
Rebecca Hartkopf Schloss specializes in the French Atlantic Empire and has a particular interest in the construction of racial, economic, gender and national identities throughout the French Atlantic during the long-nineteenth century. Her recent book, Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique (2009) focuses on how the movement of peoples, goods and ideas between Martinique and continental France helped shape ideas about French national identity and the physical boundaries of the French Empire from 1802 to 1848. Her current project, France at the Edges: Life in France’s Atlantic Port Cities, 1760-1830, explores connections among French Atlantic port cities in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe during the so-called Age of Empire. She teaches courses in Atlantic World History, Modern French Empire, and the Caribbean.
Philip Smith received a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2007. His dissertation “Persistent Borderland: Freedom and Citizenship in Territorial Florida” looks at the Florida’s diverse Indian, African, and Caribbean heritage during the antebellum period, and it has expanded to also include the New South era. His research interests are the options for inclusion and exclusion for non-whites in the Florida Territory and later in what he calls Caribbean Florida. The options included degrees of citizenship for free blacks to rebellion by Indians and Africans during the antebellum years to limited assimilation or separation during the New South era. At the center of his research interests are the legacy of Spanish Florida and Indian resistance to removal. Though specific to Florida, aspects of Spanish and Caribbean colonial definitions of race and citizenship are common to broader Gulf Coast studies and the greater southeast.
Ernest Obadele Starks’s most recent publication, Freebooters and Smugglers, examines the tactics and strategies that the adherents of the foreign slave trade used to challenge the law. It reassesses the role that Americans played in the continuation of foreign slave transshipments into the country right up to the Civil War, shedding light on an important topic that has been largely overlooked in the historiography of the slave trade. He has previously held a joint appointment at Texas A&M University-College Station and Texas A&M University at Qatar.
Julia Erin Wood’s current work is a transnational history analyzing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), its relationship with international liberation struggles, and the place of Cold War politics in defining domestic civil rights from 1960 through the early 1970s. While the civil rights movement has typically been historicized as a southern and/or national phenomenon, it can be more fully understood as a transnational movement. There were symbiotic relationships between freedom struggles in the United States and in decolonizing countries, with peoples and events around the world inspiring and affecting one another. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, a cross-continental dialogue of race and rights emerged, and the civil rights movement needs to be placed within this transnational context. Wood argues that SNCC demanded social change within and beyond the borders of the United States, and that a better understanding of SNCC furthers the internationalization of U.S. history, and a new retelling of the Black freedom struggle. More broadly, she is interested in transnational United States history, investigating the ways in which local, national, and international histories are intertwined. Wood’s work also focuses on African American history, Pan Africanism, and the relationships between diasporic peoples.
Larry Yarak is a historian of Africa. His first book investigated the pre-colonial political and social history of the Asante Kingdom, located in today's Ghana, using European (principally Dutch) archival sources and Asante oral traditions. He is currently completing a manuscript on the recruitment of soldiers by the Dutch in the 19th century West Africa, the intersection of this activity with indigenous forms of servitude, and the experiences of the African soldiers in the Dutch East Indies. His current research project concerns the 19th century social history on the peoples of the Gold Coast littoral, with a focus on the town of Elmina.
[i] Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth about History (New York: Norton, 1994), 4.
[ii] Some influential works include: Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993); Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001); Linda Gordon, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).
[iii] Nash, Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America (New York: Prentice Hall, 1974) and “The Hidden History of Mestizo America,” Journal of American History 82:3 (1995): 941-964.
[iv] Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge, 1992), 8.
[v] For example, in the 2010 History Department undergraduate competition, first prize went to Kevin Pesek for his paper "Catholic Charismatic Renewal: Boom or Bust," written for a HIST481 course directed by Felipe Hinojosa. Mr. Pesek's paper focused on the Catholic Charismatic movement within the Latin American church and used a wide variety of sources, including interviews, church documents and newspapers. This is a topic of growing interest in the history of religion and in Borderland Studies. Second-prize co-winner, Brian Bajew, was enrolled in a HIST406 course directed by Rebecca Schloss. In 2009, another student of Rebecca Schloss’s won the undergraduate prize for her essay, “Constructing a Sense of Place: The Portraiture of Elite Jewish Women in Colonial British America.”
[vi] For example, during the past academic year alone, REM faculty organized numerous events. In 2010-11, the Indigenous Studies Working Group, co-directed by Angela Pulley Hudson, hosted events with Cherokee Fantasy Writer Daniel Heath Justice and Creek Poet/Musician Joy Harjo. In 2010, Felipe Hinojosa organized a showing of "The Longoria Affair,” a documentary film chronicling Mexican American Veteranos and the fight for Civil Rights with a special visit by the film's director, John J. Valadez.