Our Pluralistic Future: Fighting for Democracy

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Immigration and Internal Migration; Latino/a; Race


This roundtable focuses on current threats to our democracy by far-right advocates, white nationalists, anti-immigrant environmentalists, and eugenicists, among others. It examines the historical connections to imperialism and colonialism and reflects on our current moment of contestation over the fight for our demographic and democratic future.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Miroslava Chávez-García, University of California, Santa Barbara
Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds affiliations in the Departments of Chicana/o Studies and Feminist Studies. Author of Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s (Tucson, 2004) and States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System (Berkeley, 2012), Miroslava’s most recent book, Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (Chapel Hill, 2018), is a history of migration, courtship, and identity as told through more than 300 personal letters exchanged across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands among family members and friends. In 2019, she received the Barbara “Penny” Kanner Award prize from the Western Association of Women’s Historians for Migrant Longing. In 2020, that same book was selected as a 2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. She teaches courses on Chicana/o history, immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, and juvenile justice, among others.

Panelist: Celeste R. Menchaca, Texas Christian University
Celeste Menchaca is an assistant professor of history at Texas Christian University where she specializes in nineteenth century U.S. borderlands history.Her forthcoming article in Pacific Historical Review explores how the board of special inquiry, a three-member panel that decided on whether to admit or exclude an immigrant, served as a site of sexual regulation for Mexican female migrants between 1907-1917. Her book manuscript, "Borderland Sightlines: Vision, Science, and the Production of a Nineteenth-Century U.S.-Mexico Border" unearths the interplay between vision and science, spatial and social landscapes, and the regulation of bodies and borders along the southern border region. She is the past recipient of the Predoctoral, Dissertation, and Postdoctoral Ford Fellowships as well as a Clements Center Research Fellowship for the Study of Southwestern Studies. She earned her PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California.

Panelist: Lina-Maria Murillo, University of Iowa
Lina-Maria Murillo is Assistant Professor in the departments of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and History at the University of Iowa. She is completing her first book titled Fighting for Control: Race and Reproductive Health Activism in the U.S-Mexico Borderlands. She examines the tensions between advocates for population control and those committed to greater reproductive access for the majority Mexican-origin women in the borderland. She focuses on the history of Planned Parenthood’s population control rhetoric that racialized Mexican-origin women’s reproduction and shines a light on the unknown history of Chicana activism that challenged racialist reproductive health tropes in the movement. Several fellowships and grants including the AAUW American fellowship, the Boston Medical Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine at Harvard and the Schlesinger Library Research Grant at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University provided funding for this study. Her article, “Birth Control, Border Control: The Movement for Contraception in El Paso, Texas 1936–1940” is forthcoming with the Pacific Historical Review.

Panelist: Salvador Zarate, University of California Irvine
Dr. Salvador Zárate is a University of California Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California Irvine. Winner of the 2018 American Studies Association’s Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for Best Dissertation, he is currently finishing his book manuscript, The Social Life of Plants: Black and Latina Reproductive Laborers in the U.S. Sunbelt, 1921-1963. He also writes on immigrant labor and the ecology in Orange County’s residential gardening economy, which he worked since he was a child. His reviews, essays, and creative works have appeared in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicana and Chicano Studies, Anthropology and Humanism, and Cultural Anthropology.