The Southwest and its Borders
Culturally, as well as geographically, the Southwest lies between Missouri and Mexico, between the South and the West, and between the Gulf of Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. Consequently, the region has never been exclusively or irreversibly southern, western or exceptional, but has instead been made and remade by connecting links across these borders and by the conflict and cooperation of the varied people of the region, most of whom long maintained ties to their point of origin beyond those borders. Thus studying the Southwest provides a perfect laboratory for the exploration of themes relevant to the larger historical profession, including the construction of culture, the creation of identity, the causes of political behavior, the shaping of economic activity, the practice of comparative history, the nature of transnationalism, and the influence of race, gender, immigration, and ethnicity. In that sense, the region’s borders extend beyond geographic boundaries to include the culturally constructed divisions between groups in the Southwest. Conceived in this fashion the study of the Southwest and its Borders moves far beyond the traditional geographic, thematic, or chronological subfields of the profession, and it recently has led to several widely acclaimed publications. Prospective graduate students interested in exploring the history of the Southwest and its Borders are encouraged to send inquiries directly to any or all members of this cluster.
A large number of undergraduate courses fall under the
general category of the Southwest and its Borders or cover significant
aspects of this history. These include:
226, The History of Texas
258, American Indian History
304, Mexican American Frontier to 1848
307, Latino Communities of the U.S.
319, U.S. Immigration and Ethnicity
322, History of the Iberian World
325, Texas Cultural History
359, American Environmental History
416, Texas Since 1845
441, History of Mexico, 1821 to the Present
450, The Old South
451, The New South
453, The American Frontier
481, Senior Seminar
Other undergraduate courses that focus on race, ethnicity, and gender might also include material on the Southwest. On the graduate level courses that cover aspects of the Southwest and its Borders include:
615, Colonial Latin America
617, Latin America, the National Period
633, The American West
636, The American South
678, Comparative Border Studies
679, Topics in Comparative Border Studies
Again courses that focus on race, gender, and ethnicity all might easily deal with the Southwest.
Faculty Members in the Cluster
Armando C. Alonzo, a native of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, is a Borderlands historian with interest in the social and economic development of Texas and Northern Mexico from the 18th century to the present. His PhD is from Indiana University in U.S. History, and his Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734-1900 (1998) concerned settlement and development in the trans-Nueces. Currently, he is working on a transnational history of Texas and Northern Mexico with emphasis on settlement patterns, community formation, and economic linkages. He is also studying the economic history of Nuevo Santander.
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 at Texas A&M in 2001. He teaches 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 also 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, as well as The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981 (2004). He has won book and article awards for his scholarship and currently serves on the executive board of the Texas State Historical Association.
Albert S. Broussard is an historian of the American West and African American history, and his most significant publications include Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West (1993), African American Odyssey: The Stewarts, 1853-1963 (1998), and Expectations of Equality: A History of Black Westerners (2012). His graduate students have written master’s theses and dissertations on such disparate topics as women’s suffrage in Texas, racial activism and community building in San Antonio, the United States army’s response to race riots in Los Angeles, and racial violence against African American women and children in Reconstruction Texas.
Walter L. Buenger received his PhD from Rice University in 1979 and began teaching at Texas A&M University that same year. He specializes in the history of the South/Southwest and Texas. He has authored, co-authored, or co-edited six books. His The Path to a Modern South: Northeast Texas Between Reconstruction and the Great Depression (2001) received the Coral H. Tullis Award, for the best book on Texas history. His recently published Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away from Past Interpretations (2011), co-edited with Arnoldo De León, evaluates what has been written about Texas history over the past twenty years. He is currently working on a study of the connections between evolving memories of the past, the formation of cultural identity, and the creation of public policy in Texas since 1820.
Glenn A. Chambers received his PhD from Howard University in 2006 and joined the history department at Texas A&M the same year. He teaches courses on Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. His most recent book, Race, Nation, and West Indian Immigration to Honduras, 1890-1940 (2010), focuses on the migration of West Indians to Honduras at the turn of the twentieth century and their impact on the nationalizing discourse in the nation. Future projects expand the issues of race, ethnicity, nationalism, and migration/immigration by examining the related migration of Louisiana Creoles of Color into Southeast Texas and Honduran immigration to New Orleans.
Thomas R. Dunlap does research in American and transnational environmental history, with an emphasis on the relation of science to our understanding of the world around us, and he has published five books that explore these themes. His most recent book is Guided to Nature (2011). His work relates to the southwest primarily in terms of land and water law and policy, the aesthetics of desert landscapes, and the adaptation of cultures to southwestern environments.
Felipe Hinojosa earned his PhD 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, “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 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.
Walter D. Kamphoefner earned his PhD 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. Several of his articles deal with Texas Germans, their interactions with other cultures in the area, and the similarities and differences between their experiences here and in other regions. 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.
Ernest Obadele-Starks is a professor of American History at Texas A&M University. He specializes in African American history and has written and researched topics on slavery, labor, and civil rights. He has published two books, Black Unionism in the Industrial South (2000) and Freebooters and Smugglers: The Foreign Slave Trade in the United States after 1808 (2007). He is currently working on two new studies. The first focuses on the political relationship between African American and black British activists during the modern civil rights era. The second project examines the historical significance of free black settlements in Canada, the United States and Mexico in the nineteenth century.
Lisa Y. Ramos received her PhD from Columbia University and has been at Texas A&M University 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.
Philip M. Smith received his PhD from Texas A&M University in 2007. His research interests center on antebellum Florida as a contested zone between the Caribbean, and what it represented in terms of black rebellion, freedom, or degrees of citizenship for free blacks, and the American South. At the center of his interests are the legacy of Spanish Florida and the Seminole resistance to removal. Though specific to Florida, aspects of Spanish government and Spanish definitions of race and citizenship are common to Gulf Coast studies, including Texas, and the greater Southwest.
Katherine Unterman received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2011. She also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School. Her work examines borders from a legal standpoint, particularly focusing on jurisdictional disputes along the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders. She currently has an article under review about extradition in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez borderlands region at the turn of the twentieth century. Her book manuscript, “Nowhere to Hide: International Fugitives and American Power,” contains numerous case studies involving accused criminals who fled across the U.S.-Mexico border.