New Directions in Midwest Latinx Histories

Endorsed by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS)

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Latino/a; Midwest; Social and Cultural


This roundtable places the conference theme, “Pathways to Democracy,” at the geographic and thematic center of Latinx Midwest history. The inequalities inherent in the creation of “democracy” and the inequalities of the histories of these Latinx communities are emblematic of the racialized processes of labor recruiting from within the Americas demonstrating that midwesterners recruited these workers not only because of the need for cheap workers but also due to their desire to hire unthreatening workers. Moderated by a scholar of the Latinx Midwest, this panel includes graduate students and junior faculty who are making their mark on this scholarship.

Session Participants

Chair: A. K. Sandoval-Strausz, Penn State University

Panelist: Mike Amezcua, Georgetown University
Mike Amezcua is an assistant professor of history and urban studies at New York University’s Steinhardt School. He specializes in 20th Century US History, Latinx History, politics, and metropolitan studies. He is working on a book about Chicago’s postwar white flight neighborhoods as they became a key battleground for waves of arriving Mexican immigrants. His book details how Mexicans built strong political, commercial, and cultural networks that helped shape the trajectory of their neighborhoods amid residential steering, municipal divestment, and predatory land expropriation. His writing has appeared in the Journal of American History, Journal of Social History, as well as The Sixties.

Panelist: Delia Maria Fernandez, Michigan State University
Fernández is a historian of Latina/o history whose work focuses on how Latina/os use panethnic identity to garner more political, social, and economic rights in the twentieth century. Her research and teaching interests also include the intersections of race, ethnicity, and sexuality in American history. She is particularly interested in immigration, migration, labor, social movements and women’s history. Fernández is working on a book length manuscript that focuses on Latino migration, panethnic identity, community formation, and activism among Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the 1920s to the 1970s. She is also working on article length pieces that explore the migration experiences of Latina/os to Michigan in the first half of the twentieth century.

Panelist: Juan Ignacio Mora, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Juan Ignacio Mora is a Ph.D. Candidate in Modern United States History and finishing his dissertation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His current project, titled “Latino Encounters: Mexicans, Tejanos, and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Michigan, 1942-1970," examines how three groups of Latinos forged national, transnational, and continental networks of postwar migration through their agricultural labor in the Midwest. “Latino Encounters” highlights the intersecting histories of race and ethnicity, citizenship, labor, migration, and popular culture.

Panelist: Carolina Ortega, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Carolina Ortega is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she specializes in U.S. history and its intersections with Latin American history, migration history, labor history, and Latina/o/x studies. Her dissertation, “De Guanajuato to Green Bay: A Generational Story of Labor, Place and Community, 1926-2010,” traces the history of guanajuatense migration to the United States across (and beyond) the twentieth century. Her work has been supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship; the University of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; the University of Illinois Graduate College; and the Tinker Summer Field Research Fellowship.