Specialty: Latinx, Women and Gender, Immigration, Labor, Oral History
Sarah McNamara is Assistant Professor of History and affiliated faculty in the Latina/o, Mexican American Studies Program at Texas A&M University. McNamara’s research focuses on Latinx, women and gender, immigration, and labor histories in the modern United States. Her first book, From Picket Lines to Picket Fences: Latinas and the Remaking of the Jim Crow South, follows migrant, immigrant, and US-born Latinas, from the Caribbean and the Americas, who collided in the Cuban community of Ybor City and Tampa, Florida. Over two generations, these women organized against fascism and combatted Jim Crow to create an internationalist vision of Latinx rights. McNamara’s book examines the South as a borderland where gender and sexuality played a central role in the (re)making of race, community, region, and nation. From Picket Lines to Picket Fences is under contract with University of North Carolina Press and has received support from the American Historical Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and others.
McNamara has authored numerous articles and essays. The Journal of American Ethnic History published her article, “Borderland Unionism: Latina Activism in Ybor City and Tampa, Florida,” and her essay, “A Not-So Nuevo Past: Latina Histories in the U.S. South,” was featured in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History as part of a state-of-the-field forum on the history Latinxs in the U.S. South. McNamara also contributed a chapter to the edited volume 50 Events that Shaped Latino History. Her ethnopoetic article, “I Speak Inglés,” published in the interdisciplinary journal South Writ Large: Stories, Arts, and Ideas from the Global South, examines the life of an undocumented activist through performative writing to illustrate what it is like to live undocumented in the U.S. South. In 2019, McNamara co-edited a special issue of the Journal of American Ethnic History, themed, “Multi-ethnic Immigration and the U.S. South,” which highlighted the experiences of Latinxs and Asians throughout the region.
Beyond her historical writing, McNamara is dedicated to uniting her research with public history and popular discourse. From 2015 to 2016, McNamara led an oral history and public history initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and American Library Association Latina/o Americans Big Grant. This project included oral history interviews with Cuban Americans in Florida who were part of the pre-1959 generation and coordination of public events and exhibits that examined this immigration story. Presently, McNamara serves on the board of the Tampa Bay History Center as part of the curatorial board for a forthcoming exhibit on Cuban immigration to Florida. Additionally, she has written for popular outlets such at the Washington Post and Public Seminar.
At Texas A&M, McNamara is proud to serve as faculty advisor to the Council for Minority Student Affairs (CMSA), which unites and advocates for immigrant students at the university. She also serves as a board member to the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and Southern Labor Studies Association. In May 2019, McNamara was honored to be one of the keynote speakers at Texas A&M’s first, bi-lingual Latinx Graduation Ceremony.