John Nieto-Phillips

Associate Professor, Department of History

Vice Provost, Diversity & Inclusion (2017-2022)

Associate Vice Provost, Faculty Diversity & Development (2016-2017)

Director, Latino Studies (2007-2008; 2010-2014)

Founding Editor, ChiricĂș Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures (2016-2021)

Associate Editor, Journal of American History (2006-2010)

Affiliated Faculty, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES)

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

Raised in Los Angeles, I have spent most of my life and career elsewhere: Indiana, New Mexico, New York, France, Portugal and Spain. My interest in cultures, languages and history spring from my family's roots in the hispano communities and traditions of New Mexico. Tales of Spanish grandeur that I learned on my mother's knee captured my imagination. But they perplexed me and filled me with questions. In college, I set off on a quest to discover the deeper, often troubling, truths of our past. And that journey has taken me to unexpected places.

As a historian, I have researched and taught histories involving Latinas and Latinos. I am especially interested in ways that culture, language, and education have shaped what it means to be an "American." My first book explores these themes. The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s-1930s, retraces national and regional debates over New Mexico’s admission into the Union in 1912, and critically examines the decades-long evolution of a “Spanish American” identity. 

In the past decade, I have retraced the cultural and intellectual movement known has Hispanism which, between the 1910s and 1940s, fueled a "boom" in the study of Spanish language, literature, and history. Hispanism not only popularized these, it also spawned relationships among scholars in the US, Spain, and Latin America. While most hispanists purported to advance a strictly "scientific" knowledge of all things Spanish, more than a few practiced Hispanism to advance ideological or political agendas. These individuals figure into my current book project on transatlantic political extremism.

Based on troves of declassified intelligence reports,"Mother Tongue, Fatherland: The Spanish Falange Secret Network in the Americas," explores how diplomacy and espionage shaped US-Spanish relations during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The network's ostensible dissolution in 1943 helped pave the way for strategic diplomacy which, eventually, made Cold War allies out of two unlikely partners: one authoritarian, the other democratic.

At several moments during my career, I have been entrusted with the mantle of leadership. Most recently, I served as Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion for the Bloomington campus as we developed and implemented strategies to diversify our campus at every level. What has guided me in this and other roles (as a mentor, educator and editor) has been my desire to serve the common good in meaningful ways and to create opportunity for others (and myself) to grow and prosper. 

Among the many rewards of teaching has been my engagement in community-facing scholarly work, including the development of a Service Learning course option that immerses my students in volunteer work, promoting family literacy among Indiana's immigrant communities. I also have enjoyed mentoring students and developing and directing IU Study Abroad programs in Aranjuez, Spain, that also involved Service Learning components. For the past several years, I have served as the Ford Foundation Fellows Regional Liaison for the Midwest and as a Director on the Board the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Honors and Awards

  • 2023 John & Julia Wickes Award for the study of war and society, Indiana University

  • 2023 Vice President for International Affairs Mobility Grant, Indiana University

  • 2023 College Arts & Humanities Institute Research Grant

  • 2023 Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS) Travel Grant

  • 2022 Indiana University Bicentennial Medal, awarded by IU President for distinguished service

  • 2017 Fellow, Executive Leadership Institute (ELI), Indiana University

  • 2016 Fulbright Senior Researcher Grant, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Spain

  • 2016 Mellon International Research (MIIRT) Fellowship

  • 2016 Fellow, Academic Leadership Program (ALP), Big 10 Academic Alliance

  • 2014 Faculty Award, Commission on Multicultural Understanding, Indiana University

  • 2014 Faculty Award, Latino Faculty and Staff Caucus, Indiana University

  • 2014 College of Arts & Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship

  • 2014 Institute for Advanced Study (Indiana University), Faculty Research Fellowship

  • 2007 Indiana University Multidisciplinary Ventures and Seminars Fund

  • 2006 Indiana University Overseas Study Program Development Grant

  • 2005 Indiana University Trustee’s Teaching Award

  • 2005 Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá Book Award, (New Mexico Historical Society)

  • 2005 Indiana University Lumina Foundation Grant for Service Learning

  • 2003 Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education

  • 2002 National Endowment for the Humanities, Faculty Research Grant

  • 2001 Smithsonian Institution Short-Term Visitor Award

  • 2000 Outstanding Faculty Award, New Mexico State University

Courses Taught

  • Fascism and Antifascism
  • Latinx Histories in Film
  • Empire, Culture & Soft Power
  • Empire & Resistance: Language, Race, Latinidad
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • History of US Latina/os
  • Latinos and the American Dream: Latino Memoirs
  • US History Survey, since 1865
  • History of Latinos in US Education
  • Immigration from Mexico and the Caribbean
  • Latino Families during Wartime
  • Immigrant Nations: Latinos and the Politics of Citizenship
  • American Borders, Boundaries, Frontiers
  • Race, Immigration and Citizenship


Selected Publications

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara and John Nieto-Phillips, eds., Interpreting Spanish Colonialism: Empires, Nations and Legends. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.
John M. Nieto-Phillips, The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s-1930s. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004. Winner of the 2005 Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá Award, awarded by the New Mexico Historical Society.
John Nieto-Phillips, “El auge del español en los Estados Unidos: El hispanismo fundamentalista de Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa,” in Hispanismo. La civilización hispánica interpretada desde el extranjero, Antonio Niño Rodríguez, ed. Madrid: Marcial Pons, forthcoming Spring 2024.
________. “From the Editor: Estelas en la mar,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 5, no. 2 (Spring 2021): 1-3. 
________. “From the Editor: The Autumn of Our Discontent,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 5, no. 1 (Fall 2020): 1-2. 
________. “From the Editor: The Art of Survival in the Age of Coronavirus,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 4, no. 2 (Spring 2020): 1-2. 
________. “From the Editor,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 3, no. 1 (Fall 2019): 1-2.
________. “From the Editor: Race, Contamination, and Rage,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 2, no. 2 (Spring 2019): 1-2.
________. “From the Editor: Brown Spaces, Memory, and Awakening,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 2, no. 2 (Spring 2018): 1-3.
________. “From the Editor: The Growing Multitude of Latinx Voices,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 2, no. 2 (Spring 2018): 1-2.
________. “From the Editor: Latinx Culture in Turbulent Times,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 2, no. 1 (Fall 2017): 1-2.
________. “From the Editor: Empires and Mother Tongues,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 1, no. 2 (Spring 2017): 1-3.
________. “From the Editor: The Inaugural Issue of Chiricú Journal,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol 1, no 1 (Fall 2016): 1-6.
________. “Introduction,” and editor, “New Directions in American Borderlands History,” Journal of American History, vol 98, no. 2 (Sept. 2011): 336; 337-454.
_________. “Mémoire et consanguinité: Les origines de l’identité Spanish-American au Nouveau Mexique” in Mario Menéndez, ed., ALHIM, No. 7 (Histoire et mémoire des migrations en Amérique latine). Paris: Université de Paris VIII, Vincennes-St. Denis (Fall 2003): 83-99.
________. “Spanish American Ethnic Identity and New Mexico’s Statehood Struggle” in Erlinda Gonzales-Berry and David Maciel, eds., The Contested Homeland: A Chicano History of New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000), pp. 97-142.
________. “Citizenship and Empire: Race, Language, and Self-Government in New Mexico and Puerto Rico, 1898–1917,” Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Fall, 1999): 51-74.