For the past twenty years, I’ve been researching and teaching transnational histories involving Latinas and Latinos. I am especially interested in ways that race, language, and education have shaped changing notions of U.S. citizenship and identity. 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. Fundamental to that identity was hispanidad, or popular identification with Spanish colonial, linguistic, cultural and racial heritage. The Language of Blood led me to examine the parallel struggle for self-government in Puerto Rico. That struggle centered on competing popular perceptions of Puerto Ricans’ racial identity and “fitness” for sovereignty. In Puerto Rico, as in New Mexico, some educators sought to Americanize schoolchildren by replacing their Spanish mother tongue with English. Other educators countered that Americanization need not require the subtraction of one’s mother tongue, and that the Spanish language was a cultural asset to be conserved, appreciated, studied; they fought for Latina/o language rights and cultural pluralism.That comparison of Americanization in New Mexico and Puerto Rico has evolved and expanded into my current book-length study focusing on the Spanish language and the global reach of Hispanism, 1910s-1940s. In some regards, Hispanism, as a cultural and intellectual movement, served as a cross-current to Americanization and Anglo American cultural hegemony in the Americas. By retracing transatlantic networks of scholars, we can understand the sudden rise, in the 1920s, of the study of Spanish language and history in U.S. high schools and universities. Through their promotion of the Spanish language, Hispanists introduced many Americans to the Spanish language and to Latina/o cultures in the United States.
Academic Service and Community Engagement
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching at Indiana University has been my 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 undergraduate and graduate students, directing the Latino Studies Program (2006-07 and 2010-2014), and developing and directing two summer IU Study Abroad programs in Spain (2008, 2009). I also took great pleasure, as Associate Editor of the Journal of American History (2006-2010), in working on the September 2010 scholarly interchange on Latino History, moderated by JAH Editor Edward J. Linenthal. In 2016, I launched and still edit the twice-yearly scholarly publication: Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, published by Indiana University Press.
Associate Professor, Department of History
Founding Editor, Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures
Vice Provost, Diversity and Inclusion
Associate Professor, Latino Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES)
Department of History