Methods for Doing Ethnic Urban/Suburban History: A Roundtable

Endorsed by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS)

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Ethnicity; Race; Urban and Suburban


This interdisciplinary roundtable will address the obstacles encountered by scholars committed to researching and writing about communities of color, people whose voices and perspectives are so often overlooked, ignored, and marginalized by university and government archives. Approaching the question from the disciplinary perspectives of history, geography, and ethnic studies, panelists will explain the methodologies and practices they employ to: build relationships with community members, gather source material, create community centered archives, and publish narratives that highlight and affirm the presence and contributions of people of color in urban and suburban settings.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: David-James Gonzales, Brigham Young University
David-James Gonzales is an Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University, where he teaches courses on race/ethnicity in the U.S., immigration, and Latina/o social movements. David-James researches the relationship between the processes of migration, urbanization, and civil rights in Southern California. He is currently preparing a book manuscript on the effect of Latina/o civic engagement and politics on the metropolitan development of Orange County, CA throughout the 20th century.

Panelist: Juan De Lara, University of Southern California
Juan De Lara is a geographer and an Associate Professor in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His book, Inland Shift: Race, Space, and Capital in Inland Southern California is now available from UC Press. The book uses logistics and commodity chains to unpack the black box of globalization by showing how the scientific management of bodies, space, and time produced new labor regimes that facilitated a more complex and extended system of global production, distribution, and consumption. Professor De Lara's research interests include social movements, urban political economy, Latinx geographies, logistics, immigration, and the racial politics of big data analytics.

Panelist: Jerry B. Gonzalez, University of Texas at San Antonio
Jerry Gonzalez is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the author of In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills (Rutgers, 2018), examining Latino/s suburbanization in Los Angeles county. His research interests include Latino/a identity, immigration history, Los Angeles and the West, urban renewal, and suburbanization.

Panelist: Elaine Lewinnek, California State University, Fullerton
Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, Elaine Lewinnek wrote about early, working-class suburbanization in The Working Man’s Reward: Chicago’s Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl (Oxford University Press, 2014). Her current project brings together ethnic studies, labor history, queer studies, and cultural geography in A People’s Guide to Orange County (University of California Press, forthcoming, 2020), co-written with Gustavo Arellano and Thuy Vo Dang.

Commentator: Thuy Vo Dang, University of California, Irvine
Thuy Vo Dang, Ph.D. is the Curator for the Southeast Asian Archive and Research Librarian for Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. She has a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego, specializing in race and ethnicity, oral history, and refugee studies. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arts Orange County and the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association. Her publications include Vietnamese in Orange County (2015) and she is currently working on A People’s Guide to Orange County (forthcoming, UC Press), a book that foregrounds absented stories of the region through a social justice lens.