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 Latina/o 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: “Echoes of Empire: 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 EngagementOne 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.Currently, I am involved in reorganizing and editing an academic twice-yearly publication: Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, published by Indiana University Press. Founded in 1976, this journal quickly became a venue for Latina/o cultural expression and scholarship, and included early creative writing by Sandra Cisneros and Norma Alarcón, as well as interviews with Jorge Luis Borges and the actorvist Edward James Olmos. The relaunch issue, slated for Fall 2016, will focus on Latina/o Film.
Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, Indiana University--Bloomington
Associate Professor, Department of History
Associate Professor, Latino Studies
Department of History