Americas South and North – An Introduction

First, allow us to welcome one and all to our new blog. In starting this blog, we know that there are many other Latin America blogs out there that focus on a variety of issues – many of them are even listed in our blogroll here. So why start another one?

Our answers to this question are several. We acknowledge that although there are many excellent Latin American blogs out there, they generally either have one person offering general comments and insights on a variety of issues, or one person writing detailed aspects of only one country/region in Latin America. There isn’t really a place where multiple people with a variety of chronological, regional, and topical specialties write in depth.

Additionally, each and every one of us has an extensive academic background in Latin America. Collectively, we have lived in seven different Latin American countries (and visited numerous others). Three of us are university professors, one of us has a Ph.D. and works with an international organization,  and four of us are Ph.D. candidates while another one of us has an MA and is now working with agricultural movements in the United States and Latin America. We study a variety of peoples, cultures, and countries, from Mexican exiles in the U.S. to indigenous peoples in Chile, from the middle class in Brazil to persons with physical disabilities in Argentina, from Hispanic farming communities in the U.S. today to 19th-century farmers in Brazil, from international human rights to ethnohistory in the colonial South American interior. Thus, with our academic backgrounds, we are able to cover a wide range of subjects in depth, including (but not limited to) social movements, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, medicine and science, transnational and border issues, rural and urban labor, culture, politics, religion, and much more in both colonial and modern Latin America. We feel that these factors make our blog unique in the so-called blogosphere, and that we can thus genuinely provide important new voices, opinions, and visions with regards to Latin America. Hence, we’ve begun this blog, with the hopes that it becomes an important forum for exchanging ideas, visions, and understandings of the Americas, both North and South.

With that said, here is who we are more specifically:

Shawn Austin is ABD at the University of New Mexico. He started out as a modernist studying twentieth-century dictatorships. For his doctorate, Shawn “converted” to the early or colonial period. His dissertation asks: what choices could natives make in the Rio de la Plata, especially the colonial city of Asuncion? Using notarial records, Shawn hopes to construct a sort of ethnohistory of the Cario-Guarani and other native groups around this colonial center. This approach interacts with a historiography (and a current historical culture) that argues that native corporate identities quickly dissolved in the face of Spanish cultural invasion. Shawn’s approach will also allow him to explore the choices that women had in early Paraguayan society; thereby, using gender as a category of analysis. Trained by an Andeanist with strong doses of Mexican history, Shawn is well-versed in a variety Spanish colonial topics. He has previously lived in Paraguay and is returning to begin his doctoral research in August 2011.

Scott Crago is ABD in the Department of History at the University of New Mexico where he preparing for a yearlong research trip in Southern Chile. His research focuses on indigenous Mapuche mobilization during and after the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Of particular interest to his research are the diverse ethnic representations of indigenous and national identities that disrupt prevailing binaries based on fixed ethnic representations that countries use to advance political and economic objectives at the expense of ethnic minorities. Focusing on Mapuche representations of Chilean history and ethno-nationalism, Scott hopes to examine the limits of the nation-state as an analytical category for indigenous histories. Scott also examines the rise of eco-tourism in Chile and how Pinochet used romanticized depictions of the Mapuche to attract an international audience to some of Chile’s most visited spots. Scott’s research interests, therefore, include race, gender, human rights, eco-tourism, and finding new ways to understand the nation-state.

Teresa Cribelli holds an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico and an MA and PhD in Latin American History from the Johns Hopkins University. Born and raised in Colorado, the mysterious background of her Mexican grandmother and ties to Argentina through her Italian grandfather originally sparked her interest in Latin American history and culture. Teaching ESL and citizenship classes to Mexican immigrants in Colorado and New Mexico was a further influence. Inspired by historian Judy Bieber, her graduate work at Johns Hopkins shifted from the Spanish-speaking Americas to Brazil. Her dissertation focused on debates about modernization and technological innovation during the reign of Dom Pedro II. She is also interested in immigration and nineteenth-century economic development in Argentina and Mexico. She has developed courses on the Jewish experience in Latin America, Comparative Frontiers in the Americas, the history of Argentina, and Brazilian culture and society. She is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama.

Julian Dodson is currently working on a dissertation that  delves into the history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, U.S.-Mexican diplomatic relations, Mexican military history, transnational history, and the history of the Mexican Catholic church in the early twentieth century. His work examines the ways in which borderlands have been useful to various groups as regions beyond the effective grasp of states/governments.  In the case of Mexico and the United States, the borderlands have long served as a place of refuge for revolutionaries, counterrevolutionaries, gun-runners, and drug cartels. Beyond these topics, his research interests include nineteenth and twentieth-century Mexican history, specifically the period of the Mexican revolution, 1910-1940 as well as gender and cultural history.  He hopes to provide contributions that do not necessarily consist of the usual doom and gloom oozing from presses this side of the border, instead offering a perspective on the borderlands rooted in an understanding of a time not too dissimilar from our own present.

Rebecca Ellis is currently a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of New Mexico.  After a bit of shifting around during her Master’s program, she settled into the study of medicine, health and disability in Argentina (after a brief stint studying Honduras).  Specifically, her current research compares conceptions and experiences of blindness and deafness during the first half of the twentieth century in Argentina.  She is also interested in the ways in which capacity, labor, and gender intersect and how that affects access to education, social services, and economic opportunities.

Joseph Lenti is Lecturer of Latin American History at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. He has also taught modern Mexican and world history at the University of New Mexico and Alliant International University in Mexico City. Having completed a M.A. in Latin American History at the University of New Mexico in 2005, he is scheduled to complete the Ph.D. – in the same field and again from UNM – later this year. His dissertation and published work studies revolutionary rhetoric and its role in mediating tripartite relations between state, organized labor, and business actors in post-1968 Mexico. His current teaching and research interests focus on the social and environmental impacts of Latin American commodity networks. During the course of the past decade, he has lived on and off in Mexico City for upwards of three years – a time during which he did doctoral research, taught, got married, traveled the country extensively, and gained first-hand knowledge of several Mexican political and law enforcement bureaucracies, among other things.

Tim Lorek completed his MA in Latin American history from the University of New Mexico in May 2011.  He has a BA in History and Spanish with minors in Geography, Environmental Studies, and Latin American Studies from Ohio University (2007).  For most of 2008 he lived in Santiago, Chile, where he worked at the National Library and the Gabriela Mistral Museum of Education library conducting research on the teaching of history in public high schools before, during, and after the Pinochet regime.  On a somewhat different note, he has also worked on environmental histories of Colombia (the Cauca Valley in the mid-twentieth century) and the Mexico-New Mexico borderlands (the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad in the early twentieth century).  His interests for twentieth century Latin America include the environment, agriculture, modernization and development programs, rural communities, nationalism, and historiography.  Before continuing on with his PhD work, he will spend the 2011-2012 academic year working for the Rio Grande Community Farm in Albuquerque and serving the city’s diverse Spanish-speaking farming population in the South Valley (a position under the Americorps umbrella).

Colin Snider is Visiting Assistant Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. He completed his Ph.D. in Colonial and Modern Latin American History at the University of New Mexico, where he also earned his MA in Latin American history. His dissertation examined middle-class politics, state-society relations, military rule, and university education in Brazil. His work focuses especially on the complex ways in which military states and a variety of social groups interact in ways that occur beyond repression and resistance. He has also begun preliminary research into a project that uses the creation of Brasilia to get at issues of race, region, class, and labor in the latter half of 20th century Brazil. Other particular interests include indigenous history, human rights, race and ethnicity, and labor and class identities (and the relations between race and class).

We look forward to providing our voices, and invite one and all to join us in discussions of your passions and ours as they regard the Americas, South and North.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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